“…these days what seems to remain of Dr Hook is a sound that people remember, and this many years later that sound almost causes a sense memory, I can tell by what people say to me it’s almost like you smell chicken and you think of your mom’s house *laughs*, so I want this music to sound like they remember it sounding, so that’s what I’m back to do…”
From release: Since Dr Hook’s farewell tour in 1985, Dennis Locorriere has toured the world performing for the most part as a solo artiste with just his magical voice and an acoustic guitar. Dennis has now played to well over 200,000 people with this show, which included a comprehensive 26 date tour of Australia in 2014. Amongst the many highlights of recent years, Dennis performed a set on the main stage of Glastonbury Festival in 2004.
Following the Top 10 success of Universal Records’ DR HOOK – TIMELESS album released in the UK in 2014 – a two disc, 40 track collection of Dr Hook’s Greatest Hits and favourite album tracks personally chosen by executive producer Dennis Locorriere, Universal decided to release the album in other countries in 2015 including Australia. Hot on the heels of the release dates, Dennis has embarked on a World Tour to celebrate the ‘Hook’ legacy and perform the songs how the fans remember them sounding – with THE voice that recorded them.
At home in London we had an amazing chat with Dennis Locorriere of Dr Hook about his upcoming return to Australia for the Timeless tour, what we can expect, amazing insights into the Dr Hook story, and much, much more…
You’re heading back to Australia in October for a big run of shows, what can fans expect on the Timeless tour?
Well on the Timeless Tour they can expect wall to wall Dr Hook classic stuff, I mean I have a great new band and I decided that if I was going to step back into this I wanted the music to sound like people remembered it, because if you ask me what Dr Hook was, I would tell you Dr Hook was a bunch of guys, a bunch of friends, we were a bar band I could tell you all their names and give you all their social security numbers. These days four of the guys have passed away, years have moved on but these days what seems to remain of Dr Hook is a sound that people remember, and this many years later that sound almost causes a sense memory, I can tell by what people say to me it’s almost like you smell chicken and you think of your mom’s house *laughs*, so I want this music to sound like they remember it sounding, so that’s what I’m back to do, I’m back to play the Hook stuff, I’m not just gonna bust through it and I’m not gonna do new jazz arrangements of it, I’m gonna play it just like people remember it.
What was it like going back and revisiting these songs after so long?
Well you know, when Hook ended I took a good long time off, I did other things, I did some acting, I wrote songs for other people, I just wanted to step away and see what else I was capable of, it wasn’t like I was trying to overshadow or compete with my Dr Hook past because it’s still to this day probably the richest, the biggest thing I’ve done, but it got a little unbecoming that I was being congratulated for. When I was forty and fifty and people were still congratulating me for things I did when I was twenty and thirty I said I don’t know if that’s good, it’s flattering and I’m glad people remember it, but for me as a person I thought maybe I should try to be a little more rounded. Now looking at all this material again because of the Universal album ‘Timeless’ that’s been released in pieces all around the world, I compiled the album, I put it together, sequenced the songs, picked the forty tracks and in picking the forty tracks that Universal wanted two CD’s with forty tracks, my choice, so I had to listen to everything and I found myself revisiting all of it like you just said musically and thinking there were some things that I didn’t like back then, maybe I didn’t like the recording of that I thought gee I still don’t like that, but there was things that I thought wow, that was really cool and the thing that struck me the most listening to all of it is that we didn’t really just have one, we weren’t a one trick pony as stylistically, some of it is funny and some of it is raunchy and some of it is heartbreaking and some of it is dance-able and a lot of harmonies and I guess were lucky that we were still recording in those final days when people just said ‘no, do what you feel’ *laughs*.
Now it’s pretty regimented and I don’t think much of that goes on, but we would do country music, if a song sounded good we would put a steel guitar in it and if it sounded good as a horn song we would put horns in it like ‘Walk Right In’, we just experimented and we did lots of different things and that struck me the most and as I was listening to this stuff I was thinking, boy that would make a great show because it isn’t the same song over and over again, there’s a lot of dynamic in a show like that, some of it is up here and some of it is smaller and more poignant. So I just started thinking along those lines and then I started thinking about putting a band together and like I said to you a little while ago, my ultimate goal was to find players and singers that can just play this stuff and I’m thrilled so I’m going back and doing fifteen shows in just a few weeks and it’s gonna be a lot of work but I’m really thrilled. I was there with a solo show in 2014, just me and my guitars, I came back on a more personal scale, I didn’t want to come back and just play the hits and leave cause then I thought all they would’ve learned is that I’m older and I think they could do the math without me showing up *laughs*. So this one is wall to wall Hook and it was interesting, to answer your question concisely, it was interesting to revisit it all, and an education.
You were here last year, but prior to that it had been a long time between tours, what was it like coming back after so long?
You know, I was apprehensive about it… The first offer I got was like at the end of 2013, a promoter got in touch with me and wanted me to come back and the suggestion was why don’t you come back with a band or you can find one here and you do the hits you play casinos and stuff like that? I thought you know, it’s been fifteen years and like I said to you a few moments ago, to just come back and go ‘ok here’s all the hits’ and leave, it just seemed, I don’t know, I always felt like Dr Hook and me in particular because I’ve been back several times since then was always treated by Australian audiences and the media kind of like a person rather than a commodity or just a musical entity and I wanted to carry that one. So when the promoter said come back and do the hits in casinos, I said how about I come back with just my guitar because I had been touring like that for about ten years solo, just me and forty years’ worth of songs and a couple of guitars.
I said I’d like to come back and I’d just like to talk to everybody and tell them where I’ve been and let them talk to me, and sing them songs and songs from my solo albums and a few surprises and some of the hits and I called the shows ‘Dr Hook and Beyond’ and I came back and I did like twenty six shows all over Australia. You can do more shows when you’re solo because you’re not carrying a circus around with you so you can cover more ground, so I did a lot of solo shows and I was glad I did it that way because I knew it wouldn’t preclude me coming back with a band and doing the hits, but I just wanted to come back and say ‘hey it’s Dennis, how you doin’?’ because it was apprehensive for me because like you said, fifteen years, and it’s like going to see an old college friend you haven’t seen in that long and you’re on the train and excited about seeing them but you’re thinking are they gonna like me? Will I like them? Do I look the same? *laughs* but I had a feeling because of the personal nature of my relationship with the Australian audience that once I walked on stage and said ‘how you doin’?’ and they responded that it would be old home and it would all come flooding back and it did. Now coming back with the hits I feel like the audience knows ‘ok that’s Dennis, now he’s doing the hits’ and I’m a hit machine, does that make any sense? It seemed too glitzy to come back after fifteen years and just hit everybody over the head with the hits, but this time I’m making it easy on myself, I’m playing a lot of songs that people already love *laughs*.
Also, it’s thirty years this year since Dr Hook’s farewell tour, good or bad, what do you remember about that time?
Well, nothing bad, it’s funny because the so called acrimony that has been spoken about written about so much after Dr Hook split up is a little out of sequence, because until Dr Hook split up everybody was fine… Ray Sawyer left the band in 1981 or 82 to go pursue something else and in 1985 we did the farewell tour so the rest of us carried on, and I was in Australia twice without Ray and we just carried on as Dr Hook and it was fine. Then I decided that it was just time to do something else and so that was the farewell tour, we took that down there too. There was no acrimony, the little wrangle that happened was after Dr Hook was over and done and dusted that it was trademark, it was a business, we went from being Dr Hook and the Medicine Show the bar band to Dr Hook incorporated, and as it turned out because everybody sort of walked away and went ok, thank you and left, I kind of wound up with the name because I protected it, and so my company owns the trademarked name Dr Hook. So that’s where it got a little sticky because Ray was gonna use it and I owned it so there was lawyers that needed to speak to each other and the lawyers always walk away laughing *laughs* you know? The acrimony didn’t particularly happen between Ray Sawyer and myself for example, it’s not like we were behind rocks shooting at each other, I’ve never had a cross word with Ray, but it was a business and there were things that needed to be gotten down on paper and dealt with, you know the old cross the T’s and dotted I’s thing.
So when you say good or bad, the bad happened later, Dr Hook were all friends, when you see us on television or on YouTube and everybody always comments like ‘man you look like you were having a good time’ we bloody well were, we really were, we were a bar band and all of a sudden we were an international success and we thought that was a hoot, we really did and we were friends at that point. So I loved Hook, I really loved Hook and one of the reasons I walked away from it is because I wanted to continue to love it, I didn’t want it to just crawl around my neck and kill me and people say ‘oh you didn’t respect it’, go away, if I didn’t respect it I’d be singing ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ in a chicken in a basket place you know what I mean? I thought it deserved a little more dignity than that, even if it was leave it alone for a minute and sometimes you do, you have to step away from something to find out what it is you really have. So no, Dr Hook it was a lot of travel and we were seven guys and we had families and there were family emergencies and that’s the thing about having a band, everybody is subject to everybody’s problems, and when you have seven men in the band and they all have families, and a road crew of five people and they have families, that’s a lot of people that something can go wrong with. So, there were troubling times and illnesses and stuff like that, but there was never any rehab even though Dr Hook looked like we might tear the place down, there was never any rehab stories, we respected each other too much to be messing with that stuff because we were all responsible to each other believe it or not, we actually felt that and believed that, it was true. It was cool, I loved it, I really did love it and it’s one of the reasons I stopped was because I wanted to continue to love it, and now like I said, four of the guys are dead, some of my best friends, and people ask about a Dr Hook reunion and I say ‘Sure, but we’d have to start with a seance *laughs* there’s no way to bring them back, but the music is there, people really seem to care about it, I guess it’s that old soundtrack to your life thing. So I’m happy to represent it these days, I went from thinking maybe I should leave it alone to maybe I should give it a big hug *laughs* so that’s where I am these days.
You talk about soundtrack to your life, I had a family friend when I was growing up in the late seventies and early eighties , Dr Hook was her all-time favourite band, sadly she passed away a number of years ago but she would play it all the time and you became part of my growing up as well…
You know something, man, what you just said to me there is really, really indicative of what I hear from people and it’s lovely because I’m in the middle of people’s lives or at least the music is with me as the singer and conduit, but it’s great because people don’t come to me and say that like ‘I used to go camping and we used to sing Dr Hook songs in the car and my Dad’s passed away and he loved you guys’ and I’m right in the middle of people’s lives and that’s very, very hard to take lightly, it really is, it’s very hard to dismiss. Even if you’re not having a great day and someone all of a sudden wants to move your dinner plate over and tell you that, it matters or they wouldn’t be doing it and I’m always very mindful of that. It’s cool man, and what you just said is great and I don’t mean to make it sound like ‘oh yeah I hear that all the time’ but fortunately I hear it a lot and it used to make me wonder why people spoke to me about Dr Hook as an ongoing concern when to me it seemed like it was a long time ago and I was looking for things to do, but that’s because to people that music is an ongoing concern like I said to you in the beginning, it’s a sense memory, you hear that and you remember where you were. I do that with The Beatles, but I don’t do that with Dr Hook, with Dr Hook every time we had a hit record we would hug each other and go ‘ok you know what that means? We have to have another one…’ because if you buy a bigger house you have to keep it *laughs* so it’s all forward motion, you don’t stop to reminisce about your own stuff, but I understand now why people speak to me as if it’s an ongoing concern because as soon as they hear it it takes them somewhere and I like that, I think that’s absolutely brilliant.
Dennis Locorriere presents
DR HOOK – TIMELESS AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2015
Tickets on sale now
Wed 14 October
Theatre Royal – Hobart TAS
Ph: 03 6233 2299
Thurs 15 October
Fri 16 October
The Palms At Crown – Melbourne VIC
Ph: 136 100
Sun 18 October
Crown Theatre Perth – Perth WA
Ph: 136 100
Tues 20 October
Her Majestys Theatre – Adelaide SA
Ph: 131 246
Wed 21 October
QPAC Concert Hall – Brisbane QLD
Ph: 136 246
Thurs 22 October
Brolga Theatre – Maryborough QLD
Ph: 07 4122 6060
Fri 23 October
Pilbeam Theatre – Rockhampton QLD
Ph: 07 4927 4111
Sat 24 October
Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre – Mackay QLD
Ph: 07 4961 9777
Sun 25 October
Jupiters Theatre – Gold Coast QLD
Ph: 132 849
Sat 31 October
Canberra Theatre – Canberra ACT
Ph: 02 6275 2700
Sun 1st November
Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre – Nowra NSW
Ph: 1300 788 503
Website: http://www. dennislocorriere.com
Latest Release: Dr Hook – Timeless (Out Now – Universal Music Australia)