Still Got the Mojo: A Conversation with Foghat’s Roger Earl (Part 4 of 4)

Continued from Part Three

With regard to a life in music, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

I left school when I was 15. I’d been working after school since I was twelve years old. I worked three nights a week after school. Saturday mornings I would work in a bakery, and Saturday afternoons I would go for my drum lessons. We weren’t rich at all; we lived in semi-detached houses and stuff, so it was a little difficult once I did get a drum kit.

Most musicians that make it have a degree of success and then you’re allowed to sort of be creative. I think it’s because we’re inherently selfish. Maybe not that’s the wrong word, but all you think about is music. You’re thinking about a tune or a song, and you practice day in and day out. You don’t put your instrument away. It’s there even today. We live on a houseboat, so it’s very small. But I even have a pedal and a pad in the bedroom. And I have a drum shed outside where I have my real kit set up so I can make some serious noise.

For me the inspiration was always about music. It was always about making music. It wasn’t about being Buddy Rich because I knew that was never in my genes. But the best advice? “Find music that you love.” And for me it was always about the music. But you have to have a day job because drums and cymbals are very expensive; pianos and guitars are too. I guess you can start off with cheaper ones, but that’s not much fun, though. You want to work with the best, don’t you?

What can you tell me about the making of Sonic Mojo, Foghat’s latest album?

Our previous studio album, Under the Influence, had Scott Holt on it, and Kim Simmonds played on four songs. What happened was were doing Under the Influence album and Tom Hambridge was producing it…

I just interviewed him! [link here]

Isn’t he cool? Brilliant, brilliant man. And a good friend, as well. He came down to our studio down in Florida and was working with us. We were struggling; we had about one and a half albums done. We were short three or four songs. And so I invited Scott Holt, who I’d known since 2014, to come down and write some songs with myself and Scott and Brian. And instead of writing three, we wrote 17! A couple of the songs actually went on that Under the Influence album.

And then We went down to Nashville, did a few more. And Sonic Mojo was a lot of fun to make. We probably had seven or eight songs left over that didn’t make it onto this album! But what’s really cool about the band that we have now with Scott Holt and Brian Bassett is that they just love playing together, trading back and forth. And Scott joining the band has given us a new lease on being creative and making music. We have an absolute blast. We have our own studio down in Florida, so we can make as much noise as we like.

We just did two release parties, one in New York at the Iridium, and then went out to L.A. and did a record release party at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. And we played eight or nine songs from the new album in front of an audience, which is kind of brave, I think.

Yeah, usually when you say, “We’re going to play the new one,” they say, “We’re going to go get a beer,” right?

That’s a really cool thing and a great thing about the current band: we’re kind of brave like that. In fact, that night, the day before we did the show in New York, I said, “Let’s do ‘Louisiana Blues’ as a tribute to Kim.” And everybody said, “Yeah, okay! Great song; love playing that.” And then we added “Hurts Me Too,” which we also hadn’t played in a while. It’s all about having fun.

So you change the set list up? Because some bands, they learn the 15 songs and those are what they do night after night.

You’re often booked for a certain amount of time. Our road manager, when he gets to the venue, he finds out if we can play longer. If we’re on a festival, if there’s three or four bands on, then we just stick to our hour or whatever it is, right up to the moment. Because you don’t want to screw things up.

Actually, this year, when we’re allowed to sort of do what we want, we’re up to about an hour and 50 minutes. I want to feel tired and feel like I’ve given it everything I’ve got. There’s a song in there! Give it everything you’ve got, because tomorrow might be too late!

After doing this for more than half a century, what keeps it fresh and interesting for you?

Well, I think, like, I mean, having Scott in the band has given all of us a new lease on playing. He’s a fantastic singer, fantastic guitar player, and we just have fun. Maybe because he’s only like 57 or whatever; he’s not old. Also not unlike Dave Peverett, he’s steeped in the blues. He has great knowledge of all things musical. So when we’re sitting in our studio, he just starts playing. We’ve got everything set up so we can play, and it’s fun.

I’m having the time of my life. Everything’s still working. I mean, I’ve got Band-Aids all over my body: Knees, hands, shoulders, feet, my big toes. A bit of a problem, but not a big problem. I’m having the time of my life. I make music. I play music.

Not long ago we did a show in El Dorado, Arkansas. And these people were just absolutely fantastic. It was a really cool gig. And it was the first night that we played three songs from the new album as well. And afterwards, we were back in the dressing room, and Scott and I were having a glass of wine. Scott Holt said to me, “How many jobs are there out there where you finish working and people stand up and cheer and clap?”

I’m in Asheville, North Carolina. I don’t think you come here too much.

We would do. Somebody just has to send us the money and we turn up! But you’re right. We used to do really well down south in the Carolinas. We would be there regularly. I had a couple of girlfriends down there.

I’ve been a fan forever, but I’ve never seen Foghat live.

I was going to say, you should really come and see us, because we’re really getting old! We might not be around much longer. And you can tell your grandchildren, “I saw Foghat.”