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Wednesday, November 22, 2000

The Guess Who chat transcript

On Wednesday, November 22, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings of The Guess Who joined JAM! for a chat with their devoted fans. Below is the complete transcript of the chat.

ATIKOKAN CONAN: GUYS: There's mad rumours that you are going to do a club show in the coming weeks, possibly Toronto. It would be awesome to see you guys in a small venue. So, spill the beans, please!

Burton Cummings: We can't really respond to that yet cause it's not official. There is some validity to the rumour but location and time have not been chosen yet.

Anthony James: Is there a new album in the works ??

Burton Cummings: Same answer as the last one! Randy has some unfinished songs, I have some. What's happening now is we're playing the Grey Cup this week, a show with the Doobie Brothers. Once things calm down, we're going to get together. Definitely there's no doubt about that. We will do a new album now that we're up and running again. Grey Cup - we'll play 3 tunes, No Time, Bus Rider, Share the Land

battfredh: What do you guys think of the push to get The Guess Who into the Hall of Fame, and would you like to be the first Canadian BAND to be inducted?

Burton Cummings: I'd love to be in there. I did a one man show there last week. I got a tour of the place. It's overwhelming, stunning! There's a petition in Vancouver, Winnipeg and one on the net somewhere. Of course we would be more than honoured. I hope to the rock and roll gods that someday we can get in there. I talked to on eof the curators there, he asked us how many singles we had that charted on Billboard, I said 22, he said that was more than some of the inductees. So there's a chance Randy - They also had a ballot in Cleveland and the Guess Who was the wild card.

Kevin Dandeno: Randy, are you still planning on releasing the covers from the early days that the Guess Who recorded? If so when do you expect to release them?

Randy Bachman: It's still waiting in the wings. The live double CD is coming out in early December. BMG will do it and then they're talking about a box set. The double CD I had that was some of our English tracks is all together on CD. I talked to the head guy at BMG. Burton said, everything will happen in the right time. Next year, new album, the other CD we're talking about will also be coming out - "This Time Long Ago"

Burton - Hopefully we will have a huge deluxe box set. The box would probably be 4 discs with a nice booklet. We've never really had that. There would be 100 cuts. I think, Randy would agree, it's about time. We did commercials, (Honda, Coca Cola) The real fans, now that there's more focus on it, it's time to have all this on a huge package. There's such momentum around the band. All started with Lenny Kravitz' cover of American Women. I'd look for the set in 2001.

Janis - Toronto: In the movie, "Almost Famous" - it's apparent that director Cameron Crowe is a devout Guess Who fan? What is your relationship with director Cameron Crowe? Did your paths ever cross in the early 70's? (P.S. - Thanks for the music!)

Burton Cummings: Cameron interviewed the band many many times when he was the wonder kid at Rolling Stone. The first time was when Randy was still in the band. There were several times after that. He was a fan in the band, now that he's such a big director it's nice. In the movie, the whole time Lester Bangs was talking he had a Guess Who shirt on which was great, 8 minutes of Screen time.

Randy - he also interviewed BTO, he looked like the kid in the movie! He had this verve and enthusiasm.

Rocky Barker: I watched your show in Kelowna and was touched by the sense of Canadian nationalism you generate. How important is your connection to country to your art, especially your songwriting?

Randy Bachman: I don't think there's another band with a song like "Running Back to Saskatoon" we always felt like we were prairie dogs. It comes out in the music, over and over again. Burton's mentioned it in other songs. Looking back, when writing a song, you're thinking about where you came from. You think you owe some thanks.

Burton - I think it was Peter Godard who said he thought "Running" was the first, real, Canadian song. It mentioned Moosejaw, Red Deer, these are not songs that get mentioned a lot in songs.

BLUE: Burton: About a year ago, there were rumours going around that you were in hospital, lost weight and were thinking about retiring. Is it true you were sick, and what was wrong? Please settle the rumours.

Burton Cummings: No, I was in the hospital for one day for digestive problems. That's just a rumour. I feel pretty good. I'm in show business for the long hall. I've been doing this one-man show for 6 or 7 years and it's such a thrill to be back in a band. That 2 and a half hours on stage was so great.

Randy - we all felt like junkies for the Guess Who music, and the reaction... that's why we wrote the music in the first place. 2000 has been the greatest year.

John McLean: Burton And Randy What are you favourite Guess Who songs ?

Randy Bachman: I think it changes night to night, I love playing Albert Flasher,it's like an old fashioned dance thing. No Time is also a killer. I don't really have one, I have 5 or six.

Burton - I've always enjoyed playing No Time, I love the harmonies, that I can strap on the guitar. It has a soft spot in my heart cause up to that point, all our records were kind of soft. When No Time came out we started getting taken more seriously as a Rock and Roll band. It bridged the gap. It's always been a favourite of mine. I also love doing the new version of Let It Ride.

Chris McDowell - Winnipeg: Why did Jim Kale drop out of the line-up - is there still some personal differences? - and will he be joining the band in any future shows?

Burton Cummings: There's no personal differences. Jim is working with a trio called Dink Boy, they've been together for 2 years, he has a new son, probably a year and a half now. It's pretty rigorous and gruelling to be on the road. Jim wasn't quite ready to do all that. I think this is a proper line-up. The five piece Guess Who that now exists is the best line-up.

Randy - I felt the five guys were destined to play this summer. I've been on the road, Burton, Donny, but Jim hasn't been on the road for many, many years. To go on the road and travel for a couple of months, we didn't know if it was possible for it to happen. But the four guys were destined to play the Pan Am Games.

Heygoode Hardy jr.: Now that you've reunited, are you worried that your image as "The Guess Who" has been tarnished south of the border due to the vile pap that has been released by another band going by the same name for the last decade or more?

Burton Cummings: I don't think it's going to hurt this reunited band to tell you the truth. The fact that it's us, it's the most valid Guess Who that ever once. Once the special shows on PBS....we've already done some American gigs and the people went nuts. I don't think it's going to hurt us at all.

Randy - I agree. Once they see the special, people will forget all about it and focus on the band as it is. This is the best personnel the Guess Who have had. Some from the older, some from the new. We all respect each other. Burt and Garry have always been there. I enjoy playing "Glamour Boy" I just love it! Wish I'd played it on the record.

Burton - I think we have all the great songs under that umbrella. That touring band wasn't doing as much of the Guess Who legacy as this band does. It's exciting to me to be able to string all these songs together as the Guess Who. I don't think the other band will bother us at all.

Randy - The other band kind of did some Vegas versions of the songs. Lounge. We went through great pains to make them shine a little bit better than the CDs.

Rette: We American fans would love a tour down here. What might happen in that direction?

Burton Cummings: I think that's inevitable, our manager is already talking about American dates. We'll be playing the states extensively next year. I know, when I go online to chat rooms, people are asking me from Texas, Nebraska, they want us to come back. We had a great following in California, Portland. There's a lot of people that want to see this band again.

Randy - We have December 15 date with the Doobie Brothers in Minneapolis.

Leon Durupt: I'm writing from China and have been performing here for 4 years (including My Own Way To Rock, These Eyes, etc.). I'm assuming you won't be performing here in the near future, but what's the chance of The Guess Who bringing some of their music to the rest of the world? Asian tour, perhaps?

Burton Cummings: Well, we did tour Japan once, Tokyo... way back about 1972, I don't know, it would depend on what the demand is over there. I'm pretty sure we'll be going back to Australia at some point. Usually you stop in Japan on your way there. BTO went and did a live album in Japan. We can only take it one step at a time. Next is the states.

Jeff: My question: Buddha Records has done a phenomenal job with the recent re-issues of Guess Who albums (AMERICAN WOMAN and LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT). Two more (SHARE THE LAND and CANNED WHEAT) are out or will be shortly. Will the entire Guess Who catalogue be re-issued? Would love to have A WILD PAIR and PALMYRA (aka THE WAY THEY WERE) on CD!! Thanks, guys!

Randy Bachman: I do know they're doing a fantastic job, the booklets are really great. They're very enthusiastic there. It's giving the music a really great dressing. There's talk of bringing a lot of things out. They asked me to do some liner notes for Canned Wheat, there were old tracks I'd forgotten about. I'd asked Burton to help me. It's neat to drag my memory and then get the CD. The Guess Who has a legacy of albums, RCA, like anybody, they look at the record sales. Thank god we have this legion of fans who buy everything. I think everything will come out in its own time. The fans are loving the way they sound. Paramount has all sorts of cuts I'm forgotten about.

Burton - I'd heard a lot of people comment on the way the Paramount sounds. We recorded that album in early 1972 after Rockin.

WPG. CLEM: Hey guys -- In Randy's new book, he talks about how Burton left the rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the reunion tour. I was wondering if Burt wanted to clarify what went wrong, why he walked, what made him come back, and how he feels now, knowing what he would have missed out on, had he refused to return.

Burton Cummings: First of all, I never really walked out and left it. I was just trying to light a fire under the guys. It seemed to me that the rehearsals were a bit more lethargic than they should have been. I thought maybe I could shake everybody up a bit by storming out. In retrospect it seemed to have work.

Randy - It did work. He's right, the rehearsals were getting lethargic. That's when we noticed the problem with Jim Kale. We were being plagued constantly by interviews, photos, we were just get rolling and suddenly we got stopped. After this moment with this altercations. After that, the rehearsals were closed, we got down to business. I had never practised this much in my life! Every single day for a full month. We really needed a booster. We got shook up, came up with more resolve. Closed rehearsals - just the band. At that time we realized that Jim was not up to what we were facing.

Burton - He was preoccupied. We'd be rehashing intricate vocal parts and he was thinking about rehearsing with his trio. It was holding us all back a bit. I would never have walked out, it was just to shake them up. Then everybody worked hard. Someone had to be the taskmaster.

Randy - Burton did take a great leadership role in running everything. If it went wrong, it was his reputation at stake. We saw the press...we were like "Holy Cow" in Burton's mind we weren't on schedule. We made the time line which was amazing cause it seemed hopeless.

dick fiddler ann arbor, michigan: when will the "VIDEO" of the concert be released?

Burton Cummings: From what I hear from our manager it will be on sale on DVD next year, probably next year. It will show one more time on TV before it goes on sale. We're going to add some more cuts - Guns Guns Guns, some fabulous personal footage from the rehearsals. Scenes of Randy doing flamenco guitar. We've got some great bonus stuff. Maybe six months from now it will be available on DVD.

Randy - I also heard RCA will go back to their archives cause they shot some videos way back in 1969 and 70 in Winnipeg. The DVD is going to be way more than just the show. They've (RCA) also got some outtakes, they've got all this stuff they're going back to get. There's even some CBC footage with us on snowmobiles. Burton - Also, I think the interviews will be greatly expanded in the DVD version. There's also a video of us doing "No Time" in a wheatfield - pretty cool. We did about 70 shows in two season and of Let's Go but most of them got erased.

Randy - I think there's two or three that exist.

Steve D.: Is there a magic to a group like the Guess Who or the Beatles that allows it to maintain a link with fans even after the group has been away from its fans for a long time? And in your case does that magic flow back when you are performing in front of those fans again?

Randy Bachman: Yeah I think so. The whole reason for the summer success was when we got on stage and felt the magic, and the magic from the fans, you can' put a word on it, it's a connection. A thousand faces dancing, singing, time travelling back....people are seeing us when they first saw us at their highschool dance and there's nothing like that feeling. We had it all summer long. Some people think that Canada was waiting for this to happen. All the Canadians can get together and have these moments of time travel. Sometimes we come off stage...it's work but it's fun. I'd say give us a cold drink and we can go back out!!! The energy, bouncing off each other on stage. I'm glad the fans noticed it.

Burton - I'm glad it was all captured on film. When I watched the special, I felt that again. I think they really captured. Sometimes the band is great but the cameras aren't rolling or vice versa. But that night everything was on form. I was getting fabulous feelings from that. The five-piece brotherhood. The fans know that. We were really connecting.

Carole in Cornwall, Ontario: What advice would you give to a 10 yr. old who has a passionate love for music (always singing!),a dream to perform & great voice?

Randy Bachman: I think Burton and I had a similar passion. I was five or six when I started violin. You have to do that cause you're getting picked on at school for being a sissy. Don't lose your passion, try to find people with similar passion, find guys who can sing and play and start a band. Here the two of us here, years later, and we still have that passion. You overcome those odds, we did, and then came back decades later. \

Burton - also, we listened to records incessantly, that's always a good think. It made me try harder, Jagger, Lennon & McCartney. You can never listen to too much music. Everytime you listen to a cut it builds more of your musical personality and leanings. I think it's important to listen to as many records as you can by different artists.

CODY: Guys, I checked out the tracklisting for the live album. Why does it kick off with American Woman and These Eyes and doesn't follow the set list you guys used on tour?

Burton Cummings: I don't know, we stayed away from it. They were even mastering it here in Winnipeg. I had heard the stuff every night for 30 nights and I didn't want to get involved. From what I hear, it's wonderful.

Randy - When you do a stage show, it's very different from building an album. This album is a true, live album. No fixing at all, we didn't have the time between the tour to listen to this. We just trusted our sound guys and they just put together the best album.

Burton - I'm right here in Winnipeg, I never went in. What's weird too is cause they did it in a studio in Bannatyne. I haven't heard it yet but I hear the package is fabulous, a 12 page booklet. From all the reaction I've heard is that it's a really monumental live album. It will be in stores on December 5.

Bryan Lord: During your "Running Back" tour, what did you guys do to pass the time in between gigs? Does it differ greatly from the "old days" on the road?

Burton Cummings: There wasn't that much time between gigs. Maybe a few days, usually that was travelling. There wasn't much running around. Never went out to clubs, wasn't much partying. We really kept the schedule. We're all over 50 but we were really on the tread mill. Playing 5 nights a week out of 7.

Randy - we literally had no free time. Went out to dinner sometimes. Went out to work out once and a while.

Burton - We couldn't even get our laundry done. A little bit of shopping when you can grab 3 hours in an afternoon. In the old days, some of us were crazier, drank too much. It's more serious now, we're adults now. I think all five of us are thrilled to be back in this working band and that's enough of a buzz, there's nowhere near the buffoonery that was there in the old days.

Randy - we have a lot of fun talking about the old days though.!

Terry Wright, Barrie, Ontario.: Hi Randy, even though you love playing Gretsch guitars, anytime I've seen you live you're using strats. Any particular why you don't use Gretschs when touring? P.S. It is wonderful to see my musical heroes on top again.

Randy Bachman: My first guitar was a Gretshe, they're cool in a studio but they do feed back and howl on stage. The Strat is a more utilitarian guitar. My style has changed too. Somewhere after Shaking All Over I invented this thing called a .....and you need a solid body guitar. In the middle of the song if you break your string, he can't hand you a different one, you need a Strat that has certain sounds, I'm really happy with what I've got. You saw them on the special.

Burton - I saw you break a string on American Woman and keep on playing without missing a beat. That was impressive! Of all the songs we didn't want to fall apart, American Woman was right at the top. When Randy broke that string, I thought the transition was pretty smooth.

Kimmi: I'm a Canadian living in eastern Europe and we just had Bryan Adams here. Could you please, please come to Bucharest Burton!! You're my #1 all-time performer.

Burton Cummings: I don't know how much of a demand there is for us there. But I'd go if they asked.

Randy - Our whole future is just a phone call away. We're rock and roll junkies we play where people want us to go. If the phone calls come, our manager takes them and works it out.

Burton Cummings: We'd just like to thank everybody for the incredible support. It's impossible for the fans to realize how honoured we feel to have that kind of reaction over all these years. Our songs have never gone away because of all the support.

Randy - I would say the same thing. This has been the most incredible year for the Guess Who. It all boils down to the fans, all the critics who ended up being fans. It was a great celebration of the Guess Who this summer. I hope to keep the celebration going.

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