HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: October 2011. We had the great luck to talk with a legendary musician, Andy Fraser. He co-founded Free when he was just 15 years old and he co-wrote one of the most famous songs ever written “All Right Now”. He played with John Mayall and Sharks, wrote hit songs for Robert Palmer and Joe Cocker and has a very successful company, McTrax International. His last solo album is called “On Assignement”.Read below the very interesting things he told us:
Are you satisfied by the result of your “On Assignement” solo album? How long did it take you to compose these songs?
I feel “On assignment” is the most accomplished sounding recording to date, and that I am getting a hold on the current recording process, which is changing exponentially. The value of the content is always a personal decision for each listener, but for me it expresses a lot of important issues. I regarded “Naked… and finally Free” as a ‘coming-out’ album, and one can’t make 2 of those. Some of the songs took no time at all to write, like a couple hours, and some come from a pool of songs that have built up over the years, and then I suddenly see “ah! that’s how it should be recorded / sung / arranged / performed”. Often I feel my writing is ahead of my ability to perform, and only later get struck by a “wow, that’s a pretty good song, and needs to be done like this”. I am very satisfied it honestly represents and expresses where I am now, or maybe a year ago, and that’s all one can do as an artist.
Do you want to tour more for “On Assignement”?
I always enjoy touring, but these days it’s a matter of fitting everything into my life. More and more I am finding I need at least a 36 hours a day. My plate is very full. I just did a lengthy promo tour to introduce TOBI and his new album, and surprisingly enjoyed all the travel.
How difficult was to overcome your health problems and return to music? I guess it would be very difficult..
It was difficult, and at times nearly inconceivable. But truly, for a while now, I can’t believe how good I feel. There is a balance in my life, which includes sleep, nutrition, exercise, knowing when to let go, and often I observe how free of pain I am, young I feel, and see many contemporaries are now deceased and can’t believe I am still going strong. There was a time when getting out of bed, getting past the aches and pains and negativity that comes with day after day of feeling lousy, that now seems far in the past. Maybe I just appreciate “normal” since having been deprived of it. A shift in values.
How you came up with the idea to compose a song about Barrack Obama “Obama (Yes We Can)”?
I found him refreshing, inspiring, and then when I saw Michelle also speak without notes in an arena, with the skill of an Aretha Franklin singing, I figured here was a pair of winners. They both understand the power of coming from a place of silence, making every word and space in between count, and rising to a crescendo when driving home a point. Given the state of affairs they inherited, it would be understandable if anyone failed. Not a job I would have taken on. But of the choices, he was obviously the best. All know that if the economy gets better he can’t lose re-election, so no wonder his opponents are trying for the opposite to happen. When it also effects the rest of the world, I can’t think of anything more un-patriotic, un-Christian, unethical – all things they claim to be. The song itself, sort of wrote itself, while I was taking a shower… I felt I had to rush to the studio upstairs, and get it down before I lost the moment. It was as quick as that.
Do you miss old friends like Paul Kossoff, Robert Palmer and Alexis Korner?
Very much. You have certainly named the 3 big ones here. Koss, it’s hard to believe had such a clever, witty, biting, sense of humor to watch him turn into just the opposite was a truly painful period in my life. I did so much to change the outcome, and feel a failure for not succeeding. Very difficult. Robert, who when I first met him in his hometown Scarsborough as Allan Robert Palmer, I always liked, when he came to see us at his local club where we played. I always figured he came to see Rodgers, being a singer, but later learned he thought of himself a bass player and that’s why he came. When he moved down to London, also got signed to Island Records, initially with Vinegar Joe, we became very close, and in fact he was the one who turned me onto Marvin Gaye. Played me “What’s Going On” and blew my mind. I was thrilled when he did some of my songs and had such success with “Every Kinda People”.
How much time do you dedicate per day at McTrax International?
Mctrax has become all encompassing. Much bigger than me personally. Andy Fraser is just a part of Mctrax. So the whole change of events has taken me by surprise. Now that we have signed TOBI, a 16 year old singer / guitarist / songwriter from London, recorded and released his first album, “Spirit in Me”, and the first single and video, “Brighten up my Day” which as we speak is #2 on iHeart radio’s top 20 in demand, and eligible in about 10 Grammy categories, including ‘best new artist’ has meant I have had to focus a lot of attention on him and the label. TOBI, even at 16, is an inspiration. Has all the hallmarks of being a “John Mayer” in concert, and a “Justin Beiber” with the girls. Together we spent the last 3 months on a North American promo tour, visiting local radio and TV, reminding everyone to go to http://www.artistssupportjapan.com and help the the Japanese people through an ongoing crisis that hasn’t disappeared, although out of the headlines. A mission equally important to us both.
Do you have any clear memories from Isle of Wight Festival in 1970? Did you had the chance to meet Jim Morrison?
My memories are still vivid. We were flown in by helicopter, my first ride, at the behest of Island’s Chris Blackwell, who was wise enough to know that the energy expended of just getting into an event that size, even for the artists, can be so draining, there is no energy left to give maximum performance. It was a thrill, and we were fresh and ready to go. Though only on for about 15 / 20 minutes, meeting the energy of what I am told was 750,000 people, and giving it back left us exhausted anyway. I didn’t meet Jim Morrison, but had a great feedback from Pete Townsend of the Who, a band that I always thought gave a great performance, and in fact his guitar playing, inspired me to write the guitar riff in All Right Now. Always thought he was “king of the big Chords”. Had a weird encounter with Tiny Tim, Seemed like he was from a different planet.
Do you have any contact nowadays with Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers? Had you ever been offered an option for Free reunion?
Simon and I remain very friendly. Paul and I, not so much. There is almost a weekly offer from promoters for a FREE reunion gig. There is a standing invitation for us to play the London 02. But sadly, the relationship between Paul and I is such that the only thing we agree on, is that we are on different pages now. There is more chance of us re-marrying our former wives that reforming FREE.
You’ve written two of the most popular songs in modern music Free’s “All Right Now” and “Evey Kinda People” for Robert Palmer?
I just consider “Someone is watching over me”, and gives me Faith to continue.
Do you think you should have worked more with Chris Spedding?
An odd question, but interesting. He’s a great guitarist, and if the Sharks hadn’t gone in the wrong direction, further collaboration would have been great I think.
Have you ever been to Greece? Send a message to Greek fans.
I am looking forward to my first visit to Greece, which could be with TOBI. I am aware of the current financial status of a once great empire. There is a lesson there for all the others, including and maybe especially the US, where I live now. For now, remember that Japan is in worse shape because of enormous crisis. Go to artistssupportjapan.com and help with a couple dollars.
A big “THANK YOU” to Mr Andy Fraser and to Edwin Coolidge.