Townshend discusses Mod, Pop Art, the concept of ‘rock opera’, Tommy-Quad-and-Lifehouse, and his own future on Broadway.
SG: What were the characteristics of mod that influenced the Who’s performance?
PT: It’s definitely a case of form following function. What the Who is all about is exactly that and it always has been. If it exists today for this concert, it’s in response again to a function which is happening out there on the street. It’s like the mod thing is happening again. Not just as it did in the 80s when the Jam were around. Let’s use Oasis as an example: the way there’s a look which relates to Liam and his funny hat and his zip-up jacket you see boys wearing. That kind of fashion thing is not so much something that he has created but rather something that he has adopted, which was a look that I’ve seen around Manchester for quite some time. The Who in the early years weren’t really mods. I was an art student. Roger always calls himself a rocker. Keith was quite a mod-looking kid by today’s definition of the word. But John Entwistle was very kind of parochial in the way that he dressed. So we weren’t mods but our audience were. And what we learned quite early on is what was really important to early British pop that we produced – and this is where we were distinct from almost everybody else in this respect – is that it had to reflect exactly what the audience wanted us to say.
SG: Is there something about the British psyche that lends itself to a certain type of youth culture?
PT: No I don’t think so. It’s one of the functions of dramatic entertainment. I don’t know that it used to be one of the functions of pop music. I think one of the functions of pop music used to be very much like Hollywood cinema. It used to be about escapism. What distinguished serious theatre for example from Hollywood in the 30s and 40s was that if Hollywood made a serious picture it was usually based in an ephemeral way on some great classic, or some Biblical story, or on some heroic incident of some kind. But it was usually about adventure, crime, murder, romance. What theatre started to look at much earlier than any other form was the internal operations of ordinary people, sometimes using mythic models in order to tell the story. But pop music prior to the early 60s had been purely about escapism. Escaping from the rigours of having a humdrum life, from living in a post-war society, from all those things. And early British pop was helped tremendously by the writing of Bob Dylan who had proved you could write about political and quite controversial subjects. What we started to do is wite about what ordinary people were experiencing. I’m not pretending we were kind of Arnold Weskers or John Osbornes of our age. But certainly what we did followed on from what was happening with the angry young men in the theatre. Definitely.
SG: From your perspective during the early Who years, how did you interpret the evolution of the mod scene?
PT: What was happening in London and what was happening in Paris during the early Who years was linked by the mods. The first mods were young Jewish jazz fans who tended to live up in the Hampstead, Highgate and Golders Green areas of London, who called themselves modernists. Their idea of a great weekend was to go off to Paris and to the Left Bank and watch people like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis. Now those people didn’t play in London. This is in 1963. And they would come back not only with the records but they would also come back having watched all of these very elegant Parisians and copy their tailoring, copy their lifestyle, copy their haircuts. Suddenly short neat hair was fashionable in the middle of a fucking hippie revolution. I was busily growing my hair long when everybody around me was busily cutting it off. And it all happened in the same month. And it was because of these kids. What was happening at the time in Paris was that there were revolutions on the streets, added to the glamour of the whole thing. Now mod appropriated that where early rock and roll didn’t. What the Stones were dealing with was sex and drug danger. What the Beatles were playing with was moptop, kind of Oasis thing. Each one of them had his own private Patsy Kensit that everybody in England wanted for themselves. I wanted to fuck Jane Asher. So I think there is a link there.
SG: How closely were the early Who gigs connected to art happenings and the whole pop art movement?
PT: Obviously I lived in the climate of that particular time and I was very jackdawish. I’m sure I was influenced a lot by what was going on in France. I was at art school and I’m sure that there were radicals running around. They’d probably say something like: "Isn’t it great what happened in Paris yesterday?" To be honest I lived in a bit of a bubble. I was aware of it and I was sensitive to it. But the reason I knew about Gustav Metzke is that he lectured to me in a room. I was really quite cut off. I often talk about how much I was affected by Bertrand Russell’s speeches in Trafalgar Square and going on marches. And in my head I got myself going on the marches and seeing the speech at the end of the march. But the fact is that what I did was I joined the march for about five minutes when it passed through Ealing and heard the speech on the radio. It’s not to say that I wasn’t affected by these things but I wasn’t quite embroiled in them as sometimes I feel I am. I’m trying to avoid the tendency to go back and try to join things up, which I think I will join up really quite satisfactorily. One of the things that I’m carrying as a thesis in my own life at the moment is that I believe that pop music changed dramatically around 1962. But I’ve got to prove it. But what was interesting about what the Who did is that we took things which were happening in the pop genre and re-present them to people so that they see them in a new way. I think the best example is Andy Warhol’s work, the image of Marilyn Monroe or the Campbell’s soup can. And we were consciously trying to make people look at things which they started to get blasé about in a new way. So to some extent revolution would have been part of the vocabulary. But I don’t think it was a particularly important one. I used to get very angry with revolutionaries trying to co-opt the Who.
SG: Kit Lambert used to talk about the Who being "armed against the bourgeoisie".
PT: That was his comment. Sounds like Kit. See, he was older than I was. Ten years older than I was and I think hipper to what was going on in the world outside.
SG: Did you consciously push the three-minute pop song into high art territory with the rock opera?
PT: I think I did. But other people were doing the same thing. It’s just that for other people it didn’t seem satisfying in quite the same way. Bob Dylan did the first really long record – "Like A Rolling Song" – I think it was four minutes. I remember putting it on and looking at my watch and thinking "fucking hell this don’t half go on". And of course it’s nothing by today’s circumstances. But we weren’t even used to three minutes. Some of our early work was two minutes twenty when it actually came out on vinyl, very, very, very short. Sometimes if you made a three-minute record they would make you do an edited version for radio, particularly in America, so it was under two minutes. So when we started to look at longer work it was always very tongue in cheek. Like a mini-opera: it’s a sexy, solacious little tale and it’s all supposed to be incredibly funny. But what we were deadly serious about was whether it worked. Even in the Times last week Paul Sexton described "Quadrophenia" as pretentious. I just couldn’t believe it. I just could not believe that 30 years later we’re still looking at people who are supposed to write little two-minute pop that when they actually try to do something that’s a little bit more they regard it as pretentious. Not ambitious. Not groundbreaking. I became very, very used to the fact that whenever I tried to do anything that was a little bit different I would be described as pretentious. A lot of the techniques that I used were to hide behind pomposity, to hide behind spirituality. But also most of all to hide behind aggression. So they might write it in a paper but if they were standing in front of me they’d never fucking dare to criticize me. "I think you should go back to your job as a pop song writer." I think the problem with that is if they said it I would say "well, what is a pop song?"
SG: Were you using rock opera to expand the musical tradition started by Elvis and the Beatles?
PT: No I wasn’t really. I was aware that there was very much a mixed lineage in American music and I wasn’t quite sure how that happened. The mixed lineage was I think because America is a country made up of immigrants. What we called rock and roll, what we thought was quintessentially American, was not American at all. It was African, Northern European, particularly Scandinavian, and Jewish in that order. With a bit of Celtic stuff thrown in. What the Stones took back was just the African. What I took back, because of my exposure to the Jewish music of the 30s and the 40s in my upbringing with my father, was that kind of theatrical songwriting. It was always a part of my character. This desire to make people laugh. I think Ray Davies was a bit like that, a quintessentially English writer in that style, much more musical. But we both shared that. And I think in that respect both Ray and I are distinct from the Stones of the Beatles.
SG: How did the exposure to show tunes shape your understanding of the dramatic structure within your songwriting?
PT: The problem for me, still today, is that I write purely with one dramatic structure and that is the rite of passage. I’m not really skilled in any other. Rock and roll itself can be described as music to accompany the rite of passage. You could get a bit clever about it and talk about the fact that perhaps it’s about the psychological transference of ideas from adolescence into adulthood, which I also think it is about. There is this weird age problem that people that like pop music never seem properly to grow out of it. Or if they do there’s always some aspect of it which they hang on to. The analogy I always use is of the guy who wears a three-piece suit and dresses up as a judge and sends people to jail at the Old Bailey and then gets on a Harley Davidson to drive home. There’s a bit of rock in you that you want to hang on to. But I think the problem for me today is that I’m only interested in rites of passage stories. For example, when I found "The Iron Man", the reason I thought that would be such a wonderful story for a play in which there were pop songs is that it seems to me to be a kind of divine adulthood. So "Tommy" is about that. "Quadrophenia" is about that. Whenever you collect any group of my material together, it’s about that. "White City" is about that. I wonder too whether the last thing that I wrote, called "PsychoDerelict", is about that. That’s about a kind of rite of passage in reverse, about somebody old going back to their teenage years and re-embracing them. So it’s all about that thing.
SG: Is their a consciously Brechtian quality to your rock operas?
PT: One of the things that fails down when you try to apply a Brechtian model to what I’ve done is you miss the fact that, although Brecht obviously dealt with music in the vernacular, there was a traditional storytelling spirit already there. I was working in an undisciplined arena. I only really started to go to plays and to be interested in drama 20 years ago when as an artist I was already well-rounded. I think I’m more disciplined today. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber tended to honor these pre-established forms of music theatre. So what they did is drafted what they called rock songs into a traditional film schematic. But "Tommy" started with a few scraps of paper. As with "Quadrophenia", what created the dramatic structure was the need for the music to achieve certain ends. The need in "Tommy" was to create a sense of loneliness and depravation leading to spiritual absolution. In "Quadrophenia" it was about youthful pathos leading to grandiosity leading to spiritual destitution and then spiritual longing. Those two little models you could apply to young people. So they’re both stories of young people growing up and then latching on to something which is going to serve them for the rest of their life. But if the music in "Quadrophenia" is Wagnerian it’s because I was listening to music that I thought had that awful grandiosity. I used to see in the eyes of the kids after they’d filled themselves full of leapers. They’d haul themselves up and these wimpy little guys would behave like they were God incarnate. Couple of hours later and they’d be in the corner shaking, weeping. What was going on? I mean OK that’s drugs but these are people. And it was the emotions and the feelings and why would they put themselves through this thing. That was what "Quadrophenia" was all about.
SG: When you were working on "Lifehouse", were you seeking to connect contemporary drug culture with Aristotle’s perception of catharsis, the need to seek alternative realities?
PT: Most definitely. Had dance culture been excited by drugs that were in actual fact policed and legalized, it would have changed the whole thing. Ecstasy has been so important in the growth of dance culture. It’s a universal leveling drug. I’ve never taken it, I just only read about it from the research that I have. But it’s quite clearly a drug which has created a great leveling among the people that use it. As its use declines we see a return to capitalistic values. We see clubs where you have DJs with their own groupies. DJs being paid a thousand quid a night when the records they’re playing aren’t even announced or mentioned and neither do the people that made them ever make any money. And how do we know that the DJ is making a thousand pounds a week? Because he makes bloody sure that he shows up in some expensive Italian car. Even though he might be wearing the appropriate rave outfit, there’s some way you will find out. All these things point to a fertile creative ground where it’s valuable to be able to remove the old values and start again afresh. What happened with "Lifehouse" is that I was trying to find a way to create a place and a time where there was such a thing as entertainment and there was such a thing as music but everything was new. The whole experience was new. Just as I had tried with "Tommy" to create a boy in whose mind there would be no previous experience. So that I could draw my own line and say it all starts anew from here. And of course what’s interesting about all of the drugs cultures that there have been, or the popular drugs cultures since the Victorian times, is that they’ve all in a way drawn a line through the creative and artistic communities that they’ve been engaged, involved in. They’ve made a new start in life. When you do that you’re not able to break rules, but you’re certainly able to make new ones.
SG: What new rules were you making when you were working on "Lifehouse", and how far did they result in the project’s failure?
PT: "Lifehouse" failed because I couldn’t get it to work dramatically. The problem that I had with it was that I jumped ahead in time so far that I was describing things like the internet and virtual reality and the karmic and psychological consequences of exposing naïve minds to more experience and information than they were capable of taking in 20 years before anybody had thought it was ever possible. But it wasn’t my idea. Those notions were not my inventions. They were ideas that came from the course I did at art school. Like Gustav Metzke introduced me to guitar smashing. But Allan Cohen introduced me to computers. Back in 1961, when I was at art school, they had a computer that was as big as a factory. But they still did roughly the same things that they do today.
SG: Are you saying that your imagination has been limited by the extent of technological advance?
PT: I think it’s limited by a number of things. It’s limited by Roger Daltrey’s imagination to a great extent. I mean, he’s been a great creative ally for me over the years, but it’s only now with "Quadrophenia" that we’ve been able to creatively collaborate. And his creative involvement in this particular version of "Quadrophenia" has been unbelievably valuable. I wish he’d been there for me in that way when I did it before. And what I actually got was a bunch of fives. The limitations of where you’re working are what define your ability to make your ideas powerful. The more limited an arena you’re working in, the more effective it has to be in order to work. Rock hasn’t changed very much I suppose from the early days. But you know that the three chords have got to be about a rite of passage. Even if you’re old and your audience is old, you’ve got to write what it’s like to be young. And this is really bizarre for people that are my age now. I’m in my 50s, a lot of my audience are in their 50s. But they want me to pretend to continue to be pretending.
SG: Has adulthood altered your insights into "Quadrophenia" as it has with the Broadway version of "Tommy"?
PT: When I said that I don’t think I completely thought it through properly, I think that’s true. I think obviously adulthood has changed things. But I think what’s actually changed is the times have changed. They were doing a piece about rock in music theatre in the American Daily News and mentioned "Tommy" as being the first one that had had financial success and they said it was ruined by a happy ending tacked on by the producers. I wrote to the Daily News to defend myself and said of course it wasn’t tacked on by the producers. It was tacked on by me. And it was because I felt that what had actually happened on the record when it appeared in the late 60s was that there was a peace and love and suicide ethos. Now the suicide bit wasn’t evident really in society. It was only evident in showbusiness. It was evident that one of the outcrops of our lifestyle was a kind of nihilism. When you looked at the fans closely, the people that grew up with that music, you found that it was just as prevalent in their worlds as it was in showbusiness. The same proportion of people who committed suicide as did in showbusiness. The same proportion of people who died in drink-related car crashes. The same proportion of people had taken drug overdoses. But you wouldn’t have thought so. And so what actually happened was that somehow the ending of "Tommy", which was really about being destitute, being spiritually empty, being useless, it didn’t reach the audience. I use exactly the same device at the end of "Quadrophenia". Here is this boy who’s spiritually destitute. He sings "Love Reign O’er Me" which if you like is the epiphanistic prayer to equal "Listening To You I Get The Music" at the end of "Tommy" in under exactly the same circumstances. There’s very little left. Now what you see at the end of the Broadway production is Tommy going home and people interpret that as a fucking happy ending. I just don’t understand it. I see him absolutely beaten by the family. I see him forced to stay at home because it’s all he can do.
SG: From what you are saying, it sounds like the Broadway incarnation of "Tommy" is a reflection of the 90s, just as the original album was a social document of the 60s. Is that an accurate understanding?
PT: This seems to me to be the 90s version of "Tommy". It’s peace and love and being stuck at home. That seems to me to be what happens to so many modern people today. I don’t see it as a happy ending at all. I see it as a deepening of the adversity, the difficulty that this young man is going through. He can put his childhood behind him. But what he can’t do is erase the fact that he has to live with his family. He has to live with the consequences of his family. And that’s very much what "Quadrophenia" did. But when "Quadrophenia" happened, because the context was slightly more realistic, it landed a little better. But it was also still slightly disguised. But today you see "Quadrophenia" and you know exactly what it’s about. It’s incredibly clear. Now I don’t know what’s happened in that time from 1973 to today. But with "Tommy" it was a little bit longer. And when I sat down to work on it with Des McAnuff I had to fight quite hard to get him to put on this so called happy ending. I said: "What would he fucking do?" He’d have to go home, partly out of sickness, partly because he would believe that there was some kind of vengeance available for him. But he’d also go home because there would be nowhere else to go. So to describe it as a happy ending seems to me to be just light headed.
SG: Put in those terms, there’s an infinite sadness about "Tommy".
PT: I was very worried when we were putting "Tommy" up the first time in La Jolla that what would actually happen was that the ending would be deemed to be too sad. This poor kid has to stay with all these corrupt, horrible people. I wanted to see him climbing up the mountain as he does in the Ken Russell movie. But I thought it’s not only unreal, it’s also not what the journey is about. The journey is an internal journey. You can turn it in to a metaphor in a movie. But in the theatre what you actually have to do is allow each member of the audience to create their own metaphor. Theatre doesn’t do what movies do. Theatre doesn’t say how it could be if only you were able to imagine everything and make it real. What theatre does is it brings you back to reality. When you’re put out on the street after you’ve been to see a play, it’s a very different feeling that you have than if you’ve been to a movie. I think I probably would have enjoyed to keep my own private pain out of my work. But I was changed by my audience who said your private pain which you have unwittingly shown us in your early songs is also ours.
SG: When you premiered the "Quadrophenia" concert in Hyde Park, did you feel it was speaking more directly to your own age group rather than to the Oasis-Blur generation?
PT: It’s changed a little bit. The mistake I made was creating two levels of removal from Jimmy. One was Phil Daniels as the narrator looking back at his early life. And the second was Roger and I as internal components of Jimmy singing about his themes. So what we’ve done is we’ve removed one of those levels. What you actually have is the boy on the screen talking about himself while he’s going through the experiences that we describe. And Roger and I are singing about the internal stuff that he’s feeling. And it seems to work much better. In the Hyde Park version I kept thinking I’m too old to be singing about this guy going off his head. Now I don’t feel that. It’s very clear we’re singing about a young man because he’s up there on the screen. It’s not just cleaner, it’s much more elegant, less dangerous.
SG: After a quarter of a century, why did you chose to work with Des McAnuff on a definitive theatre incarnation of "Tommy"?
PT: When I met him I was pretty much committed to working with somebody. I had decided that the time had come to try and get "Tommy" into the theatre properly. I felt that it was time to initiate something from the ground up. And when I met him I just really got on with him. He was very positive about me in the early conversations that I had. He seemed to be thinking on similar lines. Obviously my experience was much deeper in terms of rock performance and his was much deeper in terms of developing plays and working with classics. But it was an instant recognition.
SG: Did you feel that because McAnuff was an outsider, being Canadian, he was more able to reveal the scorching satire on postwar Britain than a British director?
PT: Yeah I did. I’m quite used to scorching satire and parody as well. "Tommy" is very angry, isn’t it? I’m not sure that Americans felt that anger. I think their experience was very, very different. And it really was peace and love. And if there was peace and love and suicide, their confusion would have been: "Why the suicide?" For us postwar, there was a very clear desolation that we felt which is undoubtedly psycho-neurotic. It’s handed down from generation to generation. As a young man, every bone in my body wanted to pick up a machine gun and kill Germans. And yet I had absolutely no reason to do so. Certainly nobody invited me to do the job. But that’s what I felt that I was trained to do. Now no part of my upbringing was militaristic, no part of it was violent. The satire is of a country that really did not recover from the war at all. It thinks it won it but it didn’t recover from it and to this day makes no effort whatsoever to recover from the war. I mean, even modern English people are imperious, superior, ridden by class. All of the hypocrisy and the difficulties that are endemic in being British also make it an incredibly fertile place culturally. A brilliant place to live. Sad but true.
SG: How much of a transformation was there to make "Tommy" ready for Broadway?
PT: The difference between the La Jolla and Broadway versions was the second act had to be more showbiz. It wasn’t just about flashing lights and pinball machines blowing up and things like that. It was about using encores, bringing back the good songs and using techniques that I knew about from rock performance. The giveaway was it suddenly became "Oh What A Lovely War". It stopped being what it had felt. It stopped feeling purely autobiographical. It stopped feeling like a rock classic. It stopped feeling like a story about a bunch of kids from Shepherd’s Bush or whatever. And it started to feel to be a story about Britain and the mechanics by which Britain had in the past medicated itself. The message of "Oh What A Lovely War" was that if we blow our leg off what do we do now? Sing a happy song. And there’s a kind of irony in that, a poignancy and a tremendous tragedy. But there’s also hope. And it’s poignant and it’s sad and it’s pathetic. And all of those things gathered together to produce a result which certainly not everybody that went to see "Tommy" and go to see it now get.
SG: You received a lot of criticism for the Broadway production. How did you make sense of it?
PT: The loudest critics of "Tommy" are often foreign or colonial intellectuals. Bret Easton Ellis, Germaine Greer: they don’t get it. They think it’s puerile to suddenly get to the end of a classic piece and let go of the dream and face reality. But that is a definitive, quintessential English characteristic. It’s not even Scottish, Welsh or Cornish. It’s English. What the English like to do is to face reality with a glass of port and a tear and fade off like Basil Rathbone into the sunset. Ray Davies is very good at this. I’m good at it. Certain other people are good at it. So when you see it on Broadway with flashing lights and a yellow theatre and crowds of Americans walking in, it becomes cynical, it becomes ironic, it becomes in bad taste in a sense. The best balance of all for me was seeing the show in Toronto. It was a brilliant company there. But it also seemed to me that somehow, because Des is from Toronto in Canada which is obviously a colony and a much nearer colony than America ever was, it seems to work a bit better. Obviously Toronto is a much more English city than New York. It seemed to work a bit better. But I think we are incumbent, I am incumbent, the Who is incumbent, anybody that produces anything by me is incumbent by my Englishness.
SG: Would you describe Des McAnuff as an effective dramatherapist in the way he meted out the autobiographical elements in "Tommy"?
PT: I forced a lot of that on him. I had had this bicycling accident. I decided that I was going to use the opportunity of this convalescence to go and talk to my mother. And it was an astounding conversation. Absolutely astounding. She told me a few things about my childhood. It was not only astounding because they were traumatic events but because they were things I’d grown up not knowing had happened. And yet what was astounding about them was realizing that everything that I had done creatively related to two or three incidents that happened to me when I was a child that I’d forgotten. Everything, absolutely everything. Certainly all of "Tommy". And it was a real bone of contention when we came to argue the creative split based on the sweat factor with the other members of the Who. When I said it’s autobiographical, you know, they said: "No it’s not, we all played a part in writing the story". I was absolutely adamant: "No you fucking didn’t, this came out of my subconscious, that’s one place you can’t have contributed to." So I went to Des McAnuff forcing stuff through. Where he was wonderful in catharsis and in creative exposition was actually simplifying, allowing me to just accept that something worked and it didn’t need elaboration, it didn’t need decoration. All it had to do was be presented. So a lot of it was about putting songs in the right order for the stage rather than a four-sided vinyl album or a 90-minute movie. And also encouraging me to believe that it was OK for me to rework, rethink and revisit what I’d done before. I would say: "You don’t understand Des, you’re not allowed to do that in rock and roll." And he’d always say: "Shakespeare can do it. If it’s OK for Willie, it’s OK for you. Who the fuck do you think you are?" And when I tell that story that’s what people say to me: "Who the fuck do you think you are? Shakespeare?" And I say: "No that’s what he said. Who the fuck do I think I am? You know, if it’s good enough for Shakespeare, it should be good enough for the road sweeper."
SG: Will "Quadrophenia" appear on a theatre stage in the future?
PT: I’ve always thought that where "Quadrophenia" would work quite well would be in a theme park. Anyway when we came back through New York a distinguished agent rang through to my manager and he’s convinced that it would work on Broadway. But the plans for "Quadrophenia" at the moment are simply to take it to Europe in its current shape or form. I’m very keen to take "Quadrophenia" in this form to Europe because I’ve had such incredible feedback from Europeans about it. It’s the one piece that seems to have touched young Italian men, young Spanish men, young Greek men as well as the French, Germans, Scandinavians who have predominantly been our audience in Europe. "Quadrophenia" seems to touch the Latinos which I love, the idea that I’ve written something which might get some response from the Latin population of Europe. So we’re going to wheel it around in May and see what happens.
SG: Are there any plans for "PsychoDerelict" to become a stage production?
PT: My next job is to talk to the creative team at the Ordway Theatre in Minnesota about putting up a stand-alone version of "PsychoDerelict" and that’s happening. I’m really excited about that. I’ve asked Roger if he’ll consider taking an acting role in it and he said he’ll consider it when I’ve done the script. I’m also working on the book for a big "Les Miz" sort of musical. I’ve found a property which I really, really like, a classic property which I’m working on with a couple of writers to develop. Meanwhile I’m trying to do a trio of small plays, three short pieces, which I could put up in a kind of Donmar/Almeida type circumstance like I did with "PsychoDerelict" in which I might have a part in one of the plays but they would be kind of pure workshops basically about the way in which families either nurture or frustrate artistic talent. And that each one of the plays will say something about that. And we’ve just announced that "The Iron Man" is now in production as an animation feature with Warner Brothers. It’s the third film in the series. The first is "Space Jam", the second is a thing called "Quest For Camelot" and "The Iron Man" is the third. And that’s also very exciting because that’s going to be a 40 or 50 million dollar film and we’ll get a lot of publicity. It’s going to be called "The Iron Giant" because of "The Iron Man" comic in America. I’m really grateful because poor old Ted Hughes was worried that he might be dead before he
gets paid. When I look at the blank sheet everyday, what I’m trying to do is find either existing properties or come up with properties or angles or stories which will create music drama. It’s my obsession and most of all I would like to remain working in theatre. I think it’s very much alive. What’s actually happening in New York with "Rent", though young kids are being hyped into the theatre to some extent, it’s great that it’s happening. And once they do it they get a taste for it. I can’t tell you how many hard nosed New Jersey Who fans would come up to me and say: "Yo Pete I went to see "Tommy" and after that I went to see a few other things and you know it’s not so fucking bad". And you know they’ll go and show up and see anything. If they’re in the system they’ll be broader. Rock fans have tended to be incredibly narrow. It’s like a big part of my desire has always been not just to open up the minds of the fans but to prove that this music, this pride, this place of fertile energy is capable of working at every level of human experience and expressing them and reflecting and uplifting and entertaining of course.