The Moody Blues are preparing for their 50th-anniversary tour next year by… releasing solo albums. The band have not released a studio album since 2003’s December, but that could change now that John Lodge has his songwriting “back into gear” on his new solo album, 10,000 Light Years Ago, a short but thoughtful and engagingly themed set of songs. And the presence on the record of Moodies Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas raises the prospect of the 1966 line-up of the band reuniting…
**This is only your second solo album, after Natural Avenue back in the 70s. **
That’s right. Cherry Red Records approached me last year because they wanted to re-release Natural Avenue on 180g vinyl. So I remastered the album for them, and they came back and asked if I’d be interested in making a new album. And I was.
**You go back to your roots on the song Those Days In Birmingham. **
I wanted the album to reflect where I am today and how I got here. It came from this phrase that was going round inside my head: ‘The future is always in reach but the past has gone forever’. On that song I’m talking about all the clubs in Birmingham that we used to play, and the last line is: ‘I was standing in the window of Jack Woodroffe’s’, which is the music shop where I bought my Precision bass in 1960. And I’m playing that bass on the album. There’s even a picture of me from the day I bought it on the album sleeve.
On Simply Magic you’ve got Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas playing with you again. How did that come about?
Ray and I have been friends forever; we had a band before the Moody Blues called El Riot And The Rebels. So obviously we’ve kept in touch. Simply Magic sounded a bit like a Moodies song, so I rang Ray and went round to his house with a demo of the song, and he got his flute out and started playing along. We were talking afterwards and he said: “Mike would love to play on this song.” So I got in touch with Mike and asked him if he’d like to play some Mellotron, and he said: “Yes, love to”.
You must have talked to Mike and Ray about the anniversary tour coming up next year. They would complete the 1966 line-up.
We talked about it but only loosely. It’s a matter of coming up with the right formula, the right way to do it.
You and Justin Hayward are both writing separately at the moment.
That’s true. Cherry Red Records was the catalyst for me to get my songwriting back into gear again. And I think that’s what’s been lacking in the Moody Blues. We haven’t had a record company behind us and pushing us to record again.
Have Moodies fans calmed down from the heady 70s days, when they were propositioning you to travel in their spaceship and conceive a new alien race?
That doesn’t happen so much now.
**You’ve missed a trick there. Sarah Brightman has just spent £35 million to go into space, and you could have done it for free. **
According to some of the space cadets, we’ve already been there. I just wish I’d remembered it.
10,000 Light Years Ago is released on May 4 via Cherry Red Records.