with Nils Lofgren
Nils Lofgren, an artist who in his 30 or so years as a professional musician
has performed with the likes of Neil Young and his Crazyhorse, Bruce Springsteens
E-Street band, not to mention the countless collaborations, with Ringo
Starr and Rod Stewart to name a few. But while this multi-instrumentalist
has no doubt lived the high life throughout this time, Nils does appear
a very humble man and one who does not forget the people who have supported
him throughout this time, his fans. A rock star who has in his time struck
a pose for the camera, who hasnt? Nils earlier this year celebrated
his fiftieth year. Following a show on his latest tour, I was allowed
a few moments with this legend of American Rock so I asked, what
has turning 50 brought to your song-writing and how has he changed as
an artist over this time?
The main thing is, Ive been doing this 33 years professionally
and Ive noticed a kind of peace. Im grateful that at 50 Ive
enjoyed performing more than I ever have, so Im just embracing the
journey. Im a little more relaxed about it, an easier flow of everything.
I love performing, its kind of theraputic, so Im more at peace,
cos what I have to do is make music and share it. Im doing
that without record companies now, Ive got a web-site. Its
kind of a new adventure, but its kind of freeing not to be burdoned
by the politics of the music-industry.
Do you have other people dealing with the business side of things?
Yeah, Ive got a great manager, people who can run the web-site.
Im involved with it all, but I cant physically do all of it.
Im just kind of finding my way to produce music without the record
companies. With technology I can make records that Im proud of,
its kind of a new business adventure, but its all good. If
I had a record company and went to them and said I want to put out
an hour and a half live bootleg video, theyd say we
cant sell that, we cant market that, we cant get that
on MTV. No! I dont have to do that anymore.
Do you think that this is a problem with the music business
The music business is very political. Like any business, bureaucracy
and politics get in the way constantly. That being said there is fabulous
music out there, I can miss all the bad music and we all kind of find
it one way or another.
Is this something you see as a fault with the music business?
guess it is in some ways, but hey Peter Gabriel, Im glad hes
got a big record company thats gonna rush his record out. Cause
as soon as its available I want to walk into a shop and buy it,
its going to inspire me and I know that Peter Gabriel is going to
be in every record shop in the world. Id prefer that with my music,
because I make it to share, but thats not happening, so this is
an alternative way to make it and share it.
In those thirty years that youve been in music, what have been
your most memorable moments?
Mainly being on stage. Being filmed is great, being watched through
So you wouldnt say that, playing solo, playing with Young, playing
its mainly being on stage. Making records is hard work. I try to
work live in the studio I as much as possible, this new album, Breakaway
Angel has probably 12 of the 14 vocals live. Most of the guitar
playing is live acoustics. Stretching Out is live. Cos
Ive learnt I dont have the patience to do things over and
over. I know some musicians who love that, theyll try a guitar part
with 12 different amps, on 30 different days, with different guitars and
theyre into it, I lose patience. Even if I love the song, I dont
want to work on it for 3 or 4 hours. I can work on a song, but not the
part, you know what I mean? Unless it was kind of crap. Thats why
I love to play live, thats what my forte is and what I enjoy most.
I mean making records is my job to, but that just takes a little more
In 1984, you replaced Steven Van Zandt as a member of the E-Street
band. He has since gone onto become an actor, performing most recently
as a member of the Sopranos family
And hes come back into the E-Street band, he was on the last
tour. A big homecoming, so weve got the whole deal now.
My question here was have you ever felt the tempted to try your hand
No. I mean I fantasised It might be fun to play some nasty character,
some sleazy nasty character. If somebody approached me and wanted me to
try it, and it was something that made sense, I could give it a whirl,
but its not something I feel an infinity toward, or particularly
a talent for.
Where do you gain your influence after all these years in the business
and how has this changed?
Anything and everything, I cant be any more specific than
that. Maybe Im a little more tuned in. I have a little cassette
boom box I can leave all over the house. Cos Im lazy and if
I get a riff I just throw it in the boom box, carry on my day and then
I come back, take a riff and an idea, put it on the table and its
just a jig-saw puzzle. I think maybe Im just a little more in tune.
If I hear something, oh Id better write that down or let it go.
Im just a little more free with my writing process, I dont
hate myself. I write a lot of bad songs, I used not to do that and find
Id not write at all. So now I just write what comes out, I might
not like most of it, but if theres one idea, I think that this ones
worth working a little harder on, Im just a little more free with
the journey I guess.
Youve worked with various other artists, which of these did you
gain the most from?
Ive enjoyed them all, Ive played with Ringo Starr, Bruce
Spingsteen, Neil Young, I get a lot of attention for that, but thats
about 10% of the 33 years Ive done that. I just like to play and
sing and be passionate about it and when the opportunity arises its
not required that Im a band leader. I love to sing my own music,
but its all part of the same journey, its nice not to be the
boss once in a while.
Finally, how have you managed to travel so far and still maintain your
demanding schedule, when many of your generation hare giving thought of
I think what happens is at some point if you really love to perform,
you realise that if you want to perform at the level youre used
to, you cant behave in the same manner as you did when you were
19. Its basically more work throughout the day on performance jobs,
and you have to accept that or stop it. I joke allot and kinda moan about
it, but Im much more careful about rest, food, exercise. (He points
toward the physical type standing with us in the dressing room.) My friend
Joey here has been helping me out with stretching, and getting me ready
for the shows, and I find that if I dont do that, you might not
notice that much, but its the little differences and I notice it.
If people feel what youre doing and if people who know nothing about
music can sense that you are into it, and if they sense that, then its
a better night for all and Ive just learnt the hard way, youve
got to spend a little more time preparing.
Do you think you are ever going to retire?
Youre going to continue up until the day you die?
Playing music, yeah. Music is therapeutic for me and performing,
some kind of healing. Its just the rest of the day thats the
hard work. I dont need to do it everyday, but it needs to be some
part of my diet as a person and as a fashion, for the rest of my life.
Thank you very much Nils.
Youre welcome, just let people know about my web-site ok.
You can also read a live review of Nil Lofgren's performance in Leicestershire