Prog veterans focus preview their set at Hard Rock Hell 2017

A press shot of focus

Singer, Hammond organist, flautist and yodeller Thijs van Leer sets the scene for the Dutch band’s latest UK tour.

Focus recently appeared at the Ramblin’ Man Fair. Was it a good experience for you?

Yes, it was great. What a reaction! It was just beautiful. We also had good weather.

A double album called The Focus Family Album that combines band material and two solo tracks by each current member is about to be released. How was it compiled?

We had full direction over it, we chose the tracks ourselves and we are happy that it’s coming out. It has some old and new tracks, so it’s a nice mixture.

Udo Pannekeet recently became the newest Focus bassist. Why did the band cheekily “congratulate” themselves on his appointment?

That’s because Udo is an extraordinary bass player. He was recommended to us. I called him up and asked whether he was willing to be in the band and he said yes.

Do you ever tire of playing your seventies golden oldies Hocus Pocus and Sylvia?

No. The thought of not playing them would never occur to me. I still love them both, the audiences want to hear them, there’s no friction of any kind.

Is there a studio album of new material on the way?

Yes, we are making plans for Focus 11 and then Focus 12.

Assuming the band still exist in 2019, it will mark their fiftieth anniversary. That’s quite an achievement.

Yes, it would be quite remarkable, and we are having many thoughts about ways of commemorating such a milestone.

If guitarist Jan Akkerman, bassist Martin Dresden and drummer Pierre van der Linden – the original line-up, as near as dammit – were agreeable to doing something very special, would you be up for that?

It would be interesting, but as things stand, it’s still an open question.

Focus tour the UK from October 5 to 21 and play Hard Rock Hell Prog on November 17.

HRH Prog VI: Caravan, Focus and more added to winter bill

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.