Hobbit - 2003 Interview Part 3

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INTERVIEW: Hobbit [Part 3] (Sep 2003)
The Hobbit Story - Part Three
Written By: Lee Bradfield

The walk down memory lane with Texan pomp rockers Hobbit rolls over into our third installment. Lee Bradfield talks with Paul 'Turk' Henry and Gene Fields, finding out all about the value of songwriting, the gigs, the celebrities, the break-up, the reunion, and of course the new album!THE HOBBIT STORY - PART THREE

The walk down memory lane with Texan pomp rockers Hobbit rolls over into our third installment. Lee Bradfield talks with Paul 'Turk' Henry and Gene Fields, finding out all about the value of songwriting, the gigs, the celebrities, the break-up, the reunion, and of course the new album!!!

Continuing the discussion about songwriting from Part Two. Our best creations came while we were all practicing some night, where we always kept the atmosphere right. All of the stage lights were set up and it was dark except for this, so it always felt like a gig. We just about always had some cold beer too.

We always started by running through our act, and worked on continuity. That was always real important to us. Then we got into other stuff. Once an idea turned us on, it was like everything else in the world kind of stood still and got out of the way. For us, the feeling of playing and singing a new song would forever be one of the most memorable things you can experience.

Meanwhile, we were playing many concerts and large club gigs all over the south. We played a tour in Los Angeles and Southern California, including Rissmillers Country Club and The Music Machine. One night we played at The Troubador, where Van Halen, Doors, etc used to play. Another night was a real good gig at Cal State Northridge, and those kids really got off on our music. Finally, we played at Gazzari's on Sunset Strip, in Hollywood. That's still a famous place in LA.

One of the best opening act shows that we did was with Night Ranger. They were a hot new rock n roll band with a killer song on the radio - 'Don't Tell Me You Love Me'. The show was in Dallas. That afternoon we got our sound check right along with the guys from Night Ranger. Jack Blades and Brad Gillis were some of the nicest guys that we ever met from a rock n roll band that was really big.

The guys from Loverboy were just as good, inviting us over to their place after the show. Cheap Trick was kind of burned out, Quiet Riot weren't the easiest lot to get along with, but Jack and Brad were quality people. Brad had been playing with Ozzy prior to the formation of Night Ranger. We spent about an hour talking about making it in the music business, how it felt, and how hard it was. That time together gave us a good feeling. The next song to come along was inspired by these guys: 'Ain't Lookin' for Paradise'.

We also played a gig in Dallas with the British band Humble Pie. We had been fans of theirs for a decade. In the early days, Peter Frampton was the lead guitarist and Steve Marriott was the singer. After Frampton left and went solo, the band actually went on to become even bigger. Steve Marriott was a wiry little guy with a raspy rock n roll voice.

Anyway. for years we had been fans of this guy, Steve Marriott; and were really looking forward to meeting him. Boy, were we disappointed. He was an obnoxious, burned out, foul mouthed, egotistical, resentful old drunk. We regretted ever meeting Steve Marriott, but we learned a good lesson about the pitfalls of life in rock and roll. Whatever. Anyway, it was a good gig, and we had a lot of fans there.

After more near misses with record companies and understandable frustration, Keith Young and Richard Hill left the band. Still, Gene and Paul refused to give up the dream and recruited 3 talented teenagers to begin what was Hobbit's 'Third Age'. This lineup recorded a batch of straight ahead 80's AOR tracks in 1985.

Again, the songwriting during this time was very productive, and had a great influence from the younger guys. As soon as we had enough, we set up to record again. There was a huge empty building next to the studio at that time. We set the drums up there, and got some great sounds. This was a good recording, with songs like 'Competition', 'Can You Feel It?', 'Ticket', 'Easy To Say', 'Tie The Noose', and 'On My Mind'.

While many great bands of the late 70's such as Roadmaster, Airborne, Morningstar all giving it up at the start of the 80's, denying us the chance to hear what magical mid 80's AOR they might have recorded, it took a life threatening medical tragedy to disband Hobbit. About this time, Gene started getting headaches playing and singing. In time, this led all the way to brain surgery! Gene looks at it as a funny episode in Hobbit, and everything thankfully ended up fine, but at the time it looked like Hobbit was really over.

Turk then went on to form the hard rock band Lix, who released a great album a few years later. This one also sold worldwide. Despite the disappointments and trauma with Hobbit, Turk kept the burning desire. However, with Lix, a classy hard rocking unit including some of the 1985 Hobbit lineup, that band releasing two barnstorming albums, albeit in a harder rocking vein.

After releasing the 1981 New York recordings as 'Two Feet Tall' in 1999, and the 1983 era recordings as 'Rockin' The Shire' in 2001, Hobbit had finally gotten their music out into the market, and their fans could finally go into a store and purchase a Hobbit album. And something even more magical happened as a result. Turk and Gene pick up the story.

In late 2000, Johannes of Record Heaven (Sweden) approached Hobbit to record a track for an upcoming Thin Lizzy tribute album. The only requirement was that Hobbit had to be the original members, so Turk started trying to make this happen. Awkward at first, it was obvious that all the magic of Hobbit was still there.

On the first night of pre-production for 'Fools Gold', the Thin Lizzy song that Hobbit was given, it was a time to remember. Besides the work, Hobbit jammed on 'Two Feet Tall', 'Intensity', 'Rockin', 'Till I Get You Back', and many more. There was great laughter and lots of beer shared that night! Also from that session, a piece of a new song emerged. It later became 'Rivendell', which is included in the upcoming CD 'All For The One'.

OK Glory Daze readers, now that we've had a whirlwind crash course in how they got to this point, here it is, exclusive to Glory Daze: a track by track adventure through the upcoming masterpiece 'All For The One' with Gene and Paul, From the inspiration of this tribute album cut 'Rivendell', Hobbit began to write again, and it was truly amazing how this craft never left them. Within a few months, it was obvious that we had a mission to create a new album.

Songs like 'Wind and The Way', 'Last To The Havens', 'Destiny Chaser', and 'Echos in Mirkwood' had already taken shape. All we needed was a way to record, and pretty soon we pulled together and bought a couple of Roland 1880 digital workstations. The past two years have flown by, and we've been very busy and very happy with the work on this project.

We committed early on, that we would write an entire concept album about Middle Earth. That might seem like a common thing for a band called Hobbit, but we never had more than a couple of Tolkien related songs on any album. As the songs took shape, so did the collection as a body of work. We've had a great time piecing everything together with dialog and short musical transitions.

The entire CD is one continuous 74 minute musical presentation of light and dark; just like it is in Lord Of The Rings. We strongly believe that 'All For The One' is the best album that Hobbit has ever created. We are now in the process of mixing and mastering all of the material, and it should be available early this fall. Here's the list of songs:

01 Everywhere
02 In The Shire
03 Nazgul
04 There and Back Again
05 Wind and The Way
06 One More Time
07 Hey Bombadil
08 Echos in Mirkwood
09 Rivendell
10 Grand Departure
11 Mines of Durin
12 Lothlorien/Whispers of Gollum
13 Beyond the River
14 Destiny Chaser
15 Witchking
16 Thoughts of Frodo
17 Emptiness
18 In Mordor
19 Farewells/Last to The Havens

A late November release is scheduled for this remarkable CD, and you can count on Glory Daze to keep you right up to speed as the big day approaches. Stephen King once wrote the words 'sometimes they come back' You better believe it!

[Part 1] - [Part 2] - [Part 3] - [Part 4]

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