“REVAMPED SUPERTRAMP ABANDONS POP”
By KENNETH B. GILES III
Posted on “THE DAILY TEXAN”
November 6, 1985
Bands go through personnel changes almost constantly in their early years of formation, but for a group that has been around long enough to see as much success as Supertramp has, the loss of original band members marks a serious turning point in a long, profitable career.
This is a year of rebirth for the 'Tramp, as members Richard Davies, Bob Siebenberg, Dougie Thomson and John Helliwell have decided to continue without one of the band's singers and chief songwriters, Roger Hodgson, who last year began a solo career. "We had gotten a little too pop lately, but that was the direction that Roger wanted to go," Siebenberg said. "We wanted to be more mature and tougher than that."
With that in mind, the band's latest release, ‘Brother Where You Bound’, steers the group away from the very commercial angle the band took with its last album, ‘Famous Last Words’. ‘Brother’ is a lot more instrumental, and songwriter Richard Davies (having nearly total control over production as well as music and lyrics) has also taken on all vocals and keyboards.
The result is climbing the charts slowly but steadily, the 'Tramp seldom being the type of band to have a shipped-gold kind of record. In fact, the band was unsure how well audiences would respond to the slightly revamped Supertramp. "We finished recording in April, and did a European tour that lasted five weeks," Siebenberg said "And then we went through Canada and North America, not touring, but on a sort of promotional campaign. We hit talk shows and the like because we had to see what kind of acceptance we'd get without Roger before we decided to tour.”
The group is now about halfway through the North American part of the tour, and has a few instrumentalists of note along for the ride, including guitarist Carl Verheyen, Mark Hart on synthesizers and Scott Page playing sax and keyboards. Siebenberg stresses that while Hodgson was a big part of Supertramp, the band is geared for the future, and members are sure things are for the better with Hodgson on his own. "Roger had wanted to do a solo thing for quite a while, but you can imagine what it's like to quit a group like ours," Siebenberg said. "He just needed a little nudge."
"Having two major songwriters was tough enough, but right after the '79 ‘Breakfast in America’ tour things began to get really tense between Rick and Roger," Siebenberg said. "With the money he made off of that album, Roger bought a place in Nevada City and built his own recording studio. The rest of us live in Los Angeles, and Rick likes being in the city when making an album, so when it came time to do that, Rick didn't want to go out to the country, and Roger didn't want to come to the city."
Siebenberg goes on to say that the band has a full schedule right up through the beginning of next year, when they plan to be back in the studio. "Rick is really keyed on writing," says Siebenberg, "and hopes to have most of the album written by the end of the holidays."
While the present album's sales have slowed considerably since its release, Siebenberg expects things to pick up due to the positive response he's seen at the shows. "It's easy to get the first ten rows boppin', but I'm always watching the doorways and balconies to see if they are enjoying it too," Siebenberg said. "And they are never leaving early."
Supertramp and The Motels will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Special Events Center.