CLIVE JOHN INTERVIEW
Johnny Cash fan? You’re not the only one! Clive John has been celebrating the music of Johnny Cash for years, his “Johnny Cash Roadshow” a “must-see show” in every respect. Here, in an exclusive interview with “Pulse” author Steve Rudd, Clive “talks shop”…
Hi Clive, how are things, and how has 2017 treated you so far?
Things are awesome in general. We’ve had a few hurdles to cross early this year, but everything has settled again now. Some big venues in the UK have already been played, and our first trip into Europe has been completed, which saw us visit Denmark.
How many years have you been touring “The Johnny Cash Roadshow”?
It has existed since 2005, first as “The Man in Black”, which duly became “The Johnny Cash Roadshow” in 2006.
What prompted you to devise a Cash tribute show?
I hate the word “tribute” and always call my show a “celebration” as that’s what it is. There was only one Johnny Cash; we just love performing his songs in the best way we can. I’ve been a songwriter my entire career, and still am. When I added a few cover songs into my solo performances years ago, one or two of them were Johnny Cash versions. People said that I sounded more like Johnny Cash than Johnny Cash did! His songs really suit my voice tone and attitude, so I expanded on my library of his songs, gradually turning “my” show into the show that it is today. It’s been a bumpy road sometimes, though.
How did you go about putting your backing band together?
I come from a small town called Malvern. Back in 2005, all of the musicians around were playing Rock, Blues, Pop or Jazz. Country-orientated music wasn’t popular at all, so finding like-minded musicians was almost impossible. I gathered together a three-piece backing band, which compromised on their preferred musical tastes for a one-off project. As things grew, I gradually found other musicians from all over the country, who are perfect for the job. I’m a big fan of harmony vocals, so all band members now sing as well as play.
What is it about Johnny’s music that appeals to you so much?
The realness, the soul, and its mixture of Country, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Gospel and Folk. They are my favourite musical styles, and Cash has been the only artist to embrace them all. There was a lot of goodness and love shining through all that he did, but there was a dark side, too, which I think we all find appealing, interesting and exciting.
What is your favourite Cash song, and why?
I love all his songs. That’s a very tough question, but “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, “A Thing Called Love” and “The Man Comes Around” are my favourite three. They all have a mixture of a good story, great melody lines and power.
Why do you think that the music of Johnny Cash is as popular as ever?
His career lasted for nearly five decades. The world changed a lot in those years. If his career can survive that, it will never die. It connects with people.
What do you enjoy the most about being on tour, and which towns and cities do you most enjoy visiting?
The band members are my best friends. We all have a great sense of humour, which, of course, leads to a lot of fun, and that shows on stage. I like a lot of the northern UK cities and towns, as people are very friendly. However, we all like the variety of the thousands of different places we see. There is always something different in each place. On the downside, we don’t get much time to go sightseeing! I also love a lot of the European cities and towns. Bruges in Belgium is particularly stunning. Then there’s Copenhagen, Oslo, Paris, Malmo, Ostend – the list goes on…
Do you play the same set each night, or are you prone to shake things up, depending on how you feel?
There are, of course, the classic songs that all audience members expect, so they will always remain part of the set. That said, we are constantly, albeit subtly, changing the show. If there isn’t a change in the set-list, there’ll be a change in the costumes, the backdrops, lighting or between-song chatter.
How can people find out more about upcoming tour dates?
The Johnny Cash Roadshow will be stopping off at Scarborough Spa on 18 March. Visit www.scarboroughspa.com for more details
Considering visiting Asia this year? Be sure to download a copy of Steve Rudd’s “Pulse” before you go!