In a year when The Beach Boys celebrated 50 years together with a new album and tour and The Rolling Stones are about to, seminal British prog-rock group The Moody Blues are just a year and a half away from that mark, but haven’t really even started thinking about it.
That’s because the band is too busy, bassist and vocalist John Lodge says in an interview before the band’s show tonight at State Theatre in Easton.
The Moody Blues, from left, Justin Hayward and John Lodge (drummer Graeme Edge in background)
“We’re just locked into the touring we’re doing at the moment, and I think we’re sort of locked into doing another tour of the United States in the spring next year,” Lodge said in a telephone call from a hotel room on the road.
“Then we’ve got a British tour and some concerts in Europe. And that will sort of bring to the end this part of the all-out touring and the stage show we’re doing.” Then, he said, the group has a Moody Blues cruise, “which is going to be something new. And I’m looking at it sort of as a music festival on the high seas, so Jack Sparrow watch out – here come The Moodies.
“So I think we’ll probably be thinking about [the 50th anniversary] after that. As far as next year, we’ll think about it.”
But, “we really celebrate all the while,” he says with a laugh. “Moody Blues music, to be honest. It’s not as if we’ve put the band back together to do something special in a year’s time. We are a working band, you know. We just enjoy performing and enjoy making music. So hope we take the 50 years onboard with that.”
That work has left The Moodies with a career of hit music. It has released 40 albums – 16 studio discs and 24 compilations and live records, 13 of which have gone gold or platinum.
It also has had 17 songs that went Top 40 on U.S. charts, including such chart-toppers as “Nights in White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” and “Your Wildest Dreams.” Making that even more amazing is that those hits spanned 27 years.
Lodge says the band is preparing to release “a huge box set next year, which is really exciting.”
He said the collection will include perhaps 12 CDs, “and there’s some material on there that no one’s ever heard before.”
That, he said, will include live recordings of concerts by Blue Jays, the splinter group that, with which Lodge and Justin Hayward, in 1975 released an album while the Moody Blues were on a five-year hiatus.
“[That’s] never been ever, ever heard before,” he says. “ There’s some live concerts. We’re really excited about the whole box set, and it’s a huge one.”
The group, since singer/flautist Ray Thomas's retirement in 2002, is down to three core members -- Lodge, 67, and Hayward, 66, both of whom joined in 1966, before the group's commercial success, and founding drummer Graeme Edge, 71.
The obvious question is how the group’s music, famous for matching orchestral and classic sensibilities, has remained popular for nearly half a decade.
“To be honest, I don’t know,” he says. “I mean I have no idea. The only thing I can actually say is that when we wrote, and when we’re writing all out songs and write them to the present day, we write about what affects us as people – what emotions we have and adventures and whatever.
“And really, I think, every generation has the same type of emotions, really. The times change, but really when you’re truthful in what you write, it lasts forever, you know? We’ve always stood by what we’ve believed in at the time. And I think that’s probably it. Everybody has a ‘Tuesday Afternoon,’ don’t they? Everybody has a ‘Tuesday Afternoon,’ and I think everybody has an ‘Isn’t Life Strange’ and everybody has a ‘Nights in White Satin’ and everybody wants to play air guitar as a ‘Singer in a Rock and Roll Band.’
“So I think that’s probably it. By being truthful and keeping the integrity of the band. When we go onstage, we don’t try and short-circuit the songs. We really do try and recreate the emotion that was captured when we recorded those songs. I know we have to be slightly different on stage because you’re in a different environment but we do try and make sure that emotion that caught you initially when you heard the songs you capture that again at a live concert.”
Despite the band’s constant work schedule, it’s been nearly a decade since The Moody Blues released its last studio album, “December,” and more than four years since it released an album of any kind – 2008’s “Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970,” a performance recorded more than 40 years ago.
As one of the band’s principle songwriters, Edge said he’s not sure when new music will come out.
“I mean, I write all the while and Justin writes all the while and it would just be a case of getting in the studio and writing things down. But to be honest, [with all] the Moody Blues albums out there, we’re probably our biggest rivals,” he says with a laugh.
“I think we’ll record an album when feel it’s the right time, and I feel right now that we are coming up to that time where music like The Moody Blues, an artist like The Moody Blues, I think it’s really necessary. Well, it’d be great if that music would come out into the world now. I just really think the world will need some different thing.”
Lodge says he has fond memories of The State Theatre, which the group has sold out at least five timesin the past decade. (Tickets reman available for tonight).
“Yeah – it’s just a great rock and roll venue," he said. "First time I came there and tried to get the bus around the back, I thought, ‘Here we go – this is real rock and roll, back to the ‘60s. And it is, really, back to what it was like in the ‘60s," he says with chuckle.
"That’s great there – the atmosphere there is fabulous. You’re really, really close to the audience, as well, which is great – I really enjoy that. And it feels like we’re all part of the same thing, you know? And that was great, really, to be honest, in the ‘60s, you’d play places – you’re right up front, you know? And that’s what rock and roll’s about – you’re all taking part together.”
“It’s been fantastic. Dressing rooms are funky, as well, so that’s great," he says laughing.