Image Map

Friday, November 8, 2019

Exclusive Interview: The Doobie Brothers' Patrick Simmons Talks RRHOF Nomination, the Upcoming Vegas Residency & New Music in the Works


(Photo: Andrew Macpherson)

ICYMI

When I was growing up in the late seventies The Doobie Brothers were truly a staple in my house. My dad was WAY into classic rock and for two hours each night (like it or not), I was given the kind of musical education that will truly last for my entire lifetime. The older I get, the more I realize just how much I love songs like "Long Train Running" or "China Groveand it's not just because the bands' four Grammy's and 48 million records sold tell me that I should. I genuinely appreciate the intricacies of their work.

Based on their fanbase that numbers in the millions, it's clear that I'm not alone. The band wrapped up a summer tour with Santana only to announce that their first-ever Las Vegas residency will begin in early 2020. As if that isn't exciting enough the true shining moment of 2019 for The Doobie Brothers likely comes in the form of their first-ever nomination into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

I recently caught up with founding member/multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Patrick Simmons, to chat about all the exciting news and some new music to come from The Doobies. Check it out below!

(Photo: Tyler Habrecht)

Patrick Simmons on The Doobie Brothers finally being nominated for The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:  

"It feels great and everyone, including myself, is really pleased about it. You don't really think about it all the time because it's something that's out of your control, but when something like this comes along we really appreciate it. It's just a nomination so it doesn't mean that we're there yet, but at least we're on the path and that's pretty special. It's kind of a big deal (laughing), I think. 

If we were to make it in then the guys who founded the band, and the second configuration of the band that included Michael McDonald, I think all of those guys would be recognized. I would hope that as many of those guys that could, would choose to show up and have a go at playing because it would really be fun for everybody."

Patrick's thoughts on touring now:

"We did the tour with Steely Dan last year and then this summer we toured with Carlos Santana. I love shows where we're the headliner and so on, but I enjoyed the heck out of playing those shows with Carlos this year. We would jam with him almost every night. We would do "She's Not There" or something like that and just had a great time playing with him. 

When when we go off on our own we're just The Doobie Brothers in Concert and then two-thirds of the audience are the hardcore fans that have had the records and know the songs. That's when you can have those light-up moments when you can look out and see the audience with a surprised look on their faces and hear a spattering of applause when they know the songs. Those are such fulfilling moments for me personally

I love the medium-sized halls that have between 3000-5000 seats. Old theaters often sound really good. We recently played the Orpheum Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska and it was just so great. Such a fantastic theater and an incredible audience. I like the towns that don't always have big concerts coming through because it's a little more special when someone like The Doobie Brothers does play there. Those kinds of venues usually sound great and the audiences are enthusiastic and they're coming out just to see you. We have a great house engineer too that makes us sound really good onstage. You can feel the energy and it's as exciting and fun for us as it is for the audience." 

(Photo: Tyler Habrecht)

Patrick on discovering how to make some old songs feel brand new again:

"This year we did this thing at The Beacon Theater where we played "Toulouse Street" and "The Captain and Me" both front to back, all the songs and we ended up having a wonderful time. We had never played some of those songs in a live setting before and we realized how well they really translated. We had never tried them before because, in our own minds, they weren't the right songs to play live for our concerts. So this was something new that we discovered, not only do these songs really work, but they're fun to play too (laughing). 

We did a little tinkering with the arrangements to bring those songs forward a little bit and I think that those additions really brought the songs to another level. That was something that took us all by surprise and it brought us to a point where we had this interesting material that we had never considered using before. That made things more fun for everyone in the band. We've always included songs that were not hits in our setlists, but to be able to find material that we have never performed before ever, and have it work was a lot of fun. We threw these songs into the set and they really worked as far as the audience responding and so it's nice to have some old songs that feel new again.

We've only done a few of these shows so far, one in New York and another in San Francisco,  but they have been such fulfilling moments for myself and the rest of the band too. It's just so fun to challenge ourselves. Normally you start a show at one level and you move in an upward level of momentum until you get to your biggest hits and most popular songs. When you do an album all the way through the energy goes up and down and it's a little bewildering at first (laughing). The first show seemed a little weird but by the next one, we understood that the energy in this kind of setting flows more like if you're at home listening to a record. 

We also really take the time to tell some of the good stories behind these songs to help pull the audience in a little more too."

Patrick on new Doobie Brothers music:

"About six months ago or so, when we were all together, we went into the studio with some new stuff just to get our feet a little wet with some of the ideas that we had. Then we kind of sat on that material for a little while and our next task was to find a producer to work with. We wanted someone that could help us with perspective because it's always good to have that view from somebody outside of the band. We searched around and finally spoke to a guy named John Shanks and he has been working with us on some songs. We actually have some stuff in the can that we've recorded and pretty much finished, so we're talking about putting that out sometime next year. We're still in the early stages of figuring out how we're going to market it and what we're going to do with it. That's where we're at right now. I think we've got good songs and good performances so we just have to figure out where we're going with it. 

I know those of us that are writers are always working on something. Whether or not we'll end up using it for something, in those moments we have no idea, but in the back of our minds, there's always the thought that if The Doobie Brothers do some releases then this might be good for that. If not then they'll be good for something that we're doing individually on our own. Half of it is the fantasy of what might happen with the song (laughing), that's part of what being creative is all about. First, you have to imagine the music and then you have to imagine what you can do with it. I think it really enriches your life to have some creativity going on all the time. Since I discovered that I can write a song, it has been something that I've tried to do every day for all of my life. There's always something going on inside your head and every experience that you have, you reflect on it and figure out how you can use it creatively." 

Patrick on The Doobie Brothers first Las Vegas residency, beginning in 2020: 

"It was an opportunity that just presented itself. Obviously, it's kind of getting to be a 'thing' in Las Vegas. The business folks that run those entertainment centers where people just go to get away and play are always looking for something to get people in. They've been doing residencies with Aerosmith, Santana, Cher, Foreigner... there have just been countless artists doing it. In the past it was Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Wayne Newton (laughing) and so it's just a cool thing that we never really thought about doing ourselves. 

When it was offered we realized it's a great gig for an artist because you don't have to play and then travel to the next gig. The crew isn't packing up the gear every night and loading it just to unload it somewhere else the next day. Then there's the lighting and sound, just so many complicated components, so this is a real gift to any artist to be able to come in and play for a couple of weeks. As a touring professional band, it's lucrative and while we don't do it just for the money, we do have to get paid."

Patrick on what he hopes that people walk away with after seeing the band play live:

"I don't know if we are at the top of our game, but I do know that we have a really great band. Everyone is dedicated to doing the very best that we can. We work hard to make those three-part harmonies really tight and that's a huge part of the band. We are hard rocking and can get as heavy metal as anybody (laughing) because we like to play all kinds of music. That may be the oddest thing about the band, the fact that we're all over the map with what we play. There's country, some jazz-tinged stuff, we play super hard, loud stuff, we play straight-ahead blues. There are also ballads and some stuff that we think is really pretty (laughing) and delicate. 

We enjoy the challenge that comes with trying to inject different sounds and styles into our concert every night. We care about different musical forms and that's something that we really want people to understand after listening to the band play live."

(Photo: Kelly A. Swift)

Keep up to date on everything that The Doobie Brothers have going on by bookmarking their official site. Check out their tour dates here and grab some of the bands' merch too!

 

No comments:

Post a Comment