"We'll do early songs to prove we can rock:" REO Speedwagon are back on the road

Photo of the band REO Speedwagon

The last time REO played in Britain was back in 2008. Why has it taken the band so long to come back?

Wow, I didn’t realise it had been that long. It’s down to getting tremendous offers to tour in America, and those are difficult to pass up. I guess we were waiting for the right offer.

What was the attraction in opening for Quo?

Well, this was the right offer. That’s because it gives us the chance to play big venues in front of huge crowds. It’s what we really wanted to do.

Do you feel an affinity with British music?

Oh, definitely. For me, a lot of the biggest musical influences in my life come from over there. In fact, before we come on stage, we play a tape which is a mash-up of guitar riffs from classics songs by The Beatles, the Stones, The Kinks, The Who… all bands who inspired us.

Should we expect a ‘greatest hits’-style set?

Yes, of course. We won’t have a long set, so it makes sense to stick with what people know. But we might do one or two songs from our early albums, just to prove we can really rock and aren’t just a band with pop hits.

Do you ever get fed up with being labelled a ‘power ballad’ band?

To some extent, yeah. But I don’t regret the hits. However, in the 1970s we were known as a Midwest boogie band, so we do have a lot in common with Quo.

As you’ll be touring during the festive season, might we expect, er, anything from REO’s 2009’s Christmas album Not So Silent Night?

[Laughs] We’ve never done any of those tracks live. But given that it’ll be December, we might just slip one in.

The current REO line‑up has been together for nearly thirty years now. Are there times when you’re guilty of being too comfortable together on stage?

No, we never feel that safe. There’s always something happening to keep all of us on our toes.

Do you have any plans to follow this tour with some headlining shows?

It’s already being talked about. Tickets for the Quo tour are selling so well, there’s a suggestion we should return in 2017, either on our own or maybe with another big American band.

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