RTH: To me Red sounds more “timeless” or “ahead of its time” than any other album in progressive rock. Before your trio disbanded, did you feel like the band was on the brink of something new, or am I hearing the artistic end of the line?
JW: At the time of Red, Ian McDonald had been tempted back into the fold. For me, this was heading to be my dream team, and a band that I could see staying together for 20 years, but that was not a view shared by other members. I thought the potential to be endless, and was very disappointed that it did not carry on. The Floyd, who were very much in the same position, had broken through with the single “Money,” and Dark Side of the Moon was “doing nicely.” I felt that KC had the legs to go the distance, our live showing was on the up, gig attendances were very, very encouraging.
RTH: Next you joined Roxy Music, right? Were you considered a full-time member? Did you record with them as well as tour? It’s always a bit sketchy to me whether they had a permanent bassist.
JW: I joined Roxy Music because I knew them individually. Terrific guys, they asked me to vet their auditions for new bassists. When I turned in a verdict of thumbs down, they asked me if I would do it. Crimson had just imploded, they were at their peak of “pop” popularity, and I was a hired hand, but also a family friend, so I enjoyed privileges within the Roxy camp. It was tremendous fun, and I love the guys. Bryan and Phil are real gentlemen.
RTH: How would you characterize the differences in Fripp’s leadership in King Crimson to the dynamic in Roxy Music?
JW: There really is no comparison of the two bands—of one I was a writing, singing, playing component, in the other I was just doing a job–a very nice job, but still a job.
RTH: Over time, did Bryan Ferry make a concerted effort to exert more control over Roxy Music, or did the group come to a more settled approach naturally? The early albums and the first few after Eddie Jobson replaced Eno still have that sense of the unexpected. Then, it sounds like Phil Manzanera and the other “wildcards” in the band have been tamed or shackled. Were you there during this transition?
RTH: No, the only Roxy Music album I played on was Viva, although I made appearances on many of their solo projects (including Brian Eno’s Here Come The Warm Jets). I wasn’t really proxy to Roxy to that extent.
RTH: Somehow, in the ’70s, you also found time to play with Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, two heavy rock bands. Were you more of a gun-for-hire in those bands than you would be in your next band, UK?
JW: Very much so. I have a strong work ethic, and would always rather be working than going to the pub on a Saturday night. I was still looking for the band that would succeed Crimson in my career, UK was a close runner, but Asia delivered everything.
Seems a nice chap! Great interview!
I’m a big fan of Manzanera’s early solo records, and Wetton made some notable appearances on them. I love his duet with Doreen Chanter on the odd-time-signature classic Same Time Next Week from the Diamond Head album. Great voice.
Good job on the interview, Mod. And Wetton definitely earns RTH Good Egg status.
Very cool, Mod.
Mr Wetton seems like such a nice guy that I may find it in my heart to forgive him and his UK cohorts for sonically traumatizing my 13 year old self back in ’77.
I love his answer to the “Beatles/Stones” question. He lists all these classical greats and The Beach Boys. Awesome! He just throws them in there like they fit. I wonder if he was referring to “Kokomo”-era?
“I was a Beatles boy, but influences were Beethoven, Bach, Beach Boys, and European church music in general: Pergolesi, Vivaldi, Tallis, Handel all feature prominently.”
That was a terrific interview! John seems really easy to talk to, and while that was a fairly long interview, my only complaint is it’s not longer. He did so much as a hired gun, I’d love to hear him go on at length about what that was like, but I suppose he’s actually very busy working. That was really nice of him to talk to us!
Yay! Three cheers for John Wetton! I may not be a fan of much of the music he’s been involved with, but that shouldn’t stop me from shouting from the rooftops that he is indeed a Rock Town Hall Good Egg.
Thanks, Mod, for the great innerview.
Great work, Mod. Who knew I could be so interested in Mr Whetton’s resume? Or in prog-rock.
Blimey, all those gigs with Asia, he must be seriously coining it.
I was deep in thought contemplating the 10cc/XTC/Styx Art Rock connection while doing some food shopping yesterday, when what should come over the store PA but Asia’s “Wildest Dreams.” No kidding. At an Ack-a-me, no less.
Man, he seemed to downplay it, but the dude does have some serious bass guitar skills. Nice work, Mr. Mod.