Simon Townshend released one of the more intriguing albums of 2012, the under-rated Looking Out, Looking In. We were fortunate and privileged to be able to pose a couple of questions to Townshend via email and we set out his responses below.
As a musician/recording artist, has being the younger brother of Pete Townshend been an advantage or disadvantage and why so?
I think it works both ways. I suppose I have a lot to live up to, especially when some people expect so much of me. Having said that my name has opened a few doors that would have perhaps remained shut. I am really proud of my brother and have always loved his music / lyrics – The Who are one of my all time favourite bands. However, I have many other musical influences and my sound is unique. I think once people realise that the sibling association takes a back seat they will judge me on my own merits. At the end of the day it’s down to me and my music to win music lovers over.
What were the inspirations behind the songwriting? E.g. “Forever and a Day” seems to be statement of identity. “Looking Out Looking In” seems to a strong personal reflection. And so on…
‘Forever And A Day’ is simply about friendship. A strong bond between 2 people that will exist when separated for long periods. Also, when a loved one or someone close is no longer there how they are present in everything around you through memories, in the air, in the Earth, in the moon, etc.The title track on my new CD, ‘Looking Out Looking In’ is a retrospective song I wrote when looking out of my window reflecting into my own mind, about how things change as you get older and wiser – one’s perspective on things that once were not important but now are vital.
What was the recording process for the album like? Were the song arrangements worked out before or during recording? Overall, was it an easy or difficult process and why so?
The songs came fairly quickly, a couple of them old songs revisited. The recording took longer (2 years) as I have been on the road touring fairly consistently since the mid nineties so I had to use my time at home between tours to do the work. I think if you have strong material then the recording process will always be quite easy. I am not one to go into a studio and write there and then. The songs are all important to me. It’s all about the music and what one has to say, otherwise there would be no point recording in the first place.
Are you satisfied with the album as it finally turned out? Is there anything you would change?
I guess as an artist there are always minor details one would like to change in hindsight. Overall though, I am really proud of this CD. I produced and mixed it myself. I worked quite intensely on it, going over and over, fine tuning the mixes and making the best I possibly could out of it. Apart from drums, bass and some electric guitar overdubs this was all recorded in my home studio performed by me – something I’m very proud of as this album stands up musically and sonically to any product out there but at the same time it retains a certain ‘cuteness’. The sound is compact and different because I was the artist working hands on. This is one major change in the music business that I love these days – results are more personal to the artist. For example, I love the fact that I can film a video, edit it myself on a laptop and post it online – all in a matter of days. i think the time has come to share music now, free downloads are where it’s at. Get people into your music and then they will come to shows and lets face it, ultimately its all about playing live. That’s where the real joy of being an artist / singer is – getting on stage and performing live.
What do you hope to achieve with this album? What are your plans to promote its release?
I want the music to spread its wings and reach out to all music lovers. It has never been about money to me – I just want people to hear the music. I already have another CD in the can for 2013. 2012 has been a very productive year for me having had a turbulent family life I had a lot of real life events to write about. Truly inspired stuff. I hope that ‘Looking Out Looking In’ touches people in the same way. My goal is to create a bigger market place for my next release which will be my best CD yet and thus expand my online fan base through the sharing of new music and film. When someone tells me how much they enjoy a track or lyric, that is my payment. I love the way the music business has gone – the doors and windows are all wide open. The world is my oyster and it all begins at the website, www.simontownshend.com and from there reaches out on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy!
Thanks to Carol Kaye/Kayos Productions for making this interview possible.