The Who's Daltrey on 2012 Tour: 'Nothing's For Sure Yet'
Though Pete Townshend has stated that he and Roger Daltrey plan to take the Who on the road next year to play their 1973 rock opera "Quadrophenia," Daltrey is choosing to remain cautiously optimistic.
"Certainly we are hoping to," the singer, who's currently touring North America playing 1969's "Tommy" with his own band, tells Billboard.com. "We haven't gone away. But Pete has got -- and this is not a joke or (an excuse) to get out of a situation -- he's got serious problems with his ears. I mean, he's now gotten down to wearing two hearing aids. So there are technical problems that we have to get around in order to play live, in a long show. Nothing's for sure yet."
The proposed tour isn't the only "Quadrophenia" project the Who have planned. On Nov. 14 the group will release "Quadrophenia: The Director's Cut" in different formats, including a Super Deluxe Edition box set includes 24 previously unheard demo tracks and a wealth of memorabilia. It's a project Daltrey has chosen to "let Pete run with," however.
" 'Quadrophenia' was much more a Pete animal than 'Tommy' ever was, so I see them totally differently," Daltrey explains. "I find all those things really interesting, historically, but I would rather try and be out there doing what I was gifted to do, which is sing. So for me, spending months in a studio putting something like that together is a complete waste of time."
Daltrey says he hasn't heard the "Quadrophenia" collection yet and is "not really" intrigued by it, either. "I've got my memories of it at the time -- do I need any more?" he explains.
As for new Who music -- including Townshend's conceptual "Floss" project -- Daltrey says he's simply waiting for news. "That's Pete's gift, of course, because he's the writer," Daltrey notes. "We had a period of time where he said, 'If you can write songs, we'll record an album.' I wrote a load of songs and he didn't like any of them, so where can you go from there? He's a complicated guy. I'm never going to be the writer that he is; he's an extraordinary writer. But I'm as good as the average rock-pop songwriter."
Daltrey says he'd consider another solo album -- his last was 1992's "Rocks in the Head" -- but notes that he's "got to find great songs" in order to do it. Meanwhile, he's enjoying the "Tommy" run which began in Europe during the summer and tours North America until Dec. 2. "I treat it like a classical piece, as if it had one composer -- even though it was written by a group of people -- and treat it with that kind of respect," Daltrey explains. "So it's a very different animal than when the Who took it on the road. My band is set up so that can add all the vocals and all the harmonies and...the little details in the music that somehow used to get lost in the early way that the Who used to have to play it. I'm having a good time, and people seem to be enjoying it -- and that's all that matters."
Daltrey is also getting kudos for the post-"Tommy" part of the set, in which he digs into the Who catalog for seldom-played favorites such as "I Can See For Miles" and "Going Mobile," plus deep rarities like "Days of Light" and "Blue Red and Grey." "I get a kick out of all of them; I don't do any songs that I don't get a kick out of doing," Daltrey explains. "Every time and any time I sing, I try and inhabit the space that I inhabited the first time I ever sang them -- that, to me, is how you do a song well. So I never get bored of doing them, ever. I get into a zone where I'm like, 'This is the first time you're doing it, Rog.' That's very important."
Daltrey is also still harboring a "dream" of putting together a film about the late Who drummer Keith Moon, which he's been working on for a number of years. He says the project is "back to the drawing board," and that after investigating some possible collaborations -- one of which included Mike Myers -- he's taking greater responsibility for the shape of the film. "I'm going to have to be disciplined," Daltrey acknowledges. "The only way I am going to get my film done in the way that I want is to write it myself, because every time I hand it over to a writer...it's not the film I want to make.
"Keith was a Shakespearian character. There is a wonderful, different side of Keith Moon that people never, ever saw, and I think he was rather heroic in a very different way. That's what I want to show the world."