Today, The Who announced their plans for a new studio album, along with a symphonic U.S. Arena Tour in 2019. The 31-date tour will kick-off in April accompanied by local symphony orchestras, though the dates have yet to be announced. The album has also yet to be recorded.
According to guitarist/singer/songwriter Pete Townshend, he initially refused the offer to tour with The Who unless there was an album paired with it. “I said I was not going to sign any contracts unless we have new material,” Townshend told Rolling Stone in an extended feature about their 2019 plans. “This has nothing to do with wanting a hit album. It has nothing to do with the fact that The Who need a new album. It’s purely personal. It’s about my pride, my sense of self-worth and self-dignity as a writer.”
Marking The Who’s first release since 2006’s Endless Wire, the new material is only in demo form—as Townshend hopes Roger Daltrey will record vocals later this year to meet the goal of a 2019 release. Townshend described the new material as “dark ballads, heavy rock stuff, experimental electronica, sampled stuff and cliched Who-ish tunes that began with a guitar that goes yanga-dang”, though the new songs were met with silence from Roger, who told RS: “They’re all great songs…. But sometimes I hear them and I think, ‘I can’t add anything to this to make my job as singer worthy of doing anything better than what Pete has already done.’ There’s at least five or six I can lay into and I’m sure they’ll come out incredible.” Daltrey continues, “Now that I’m healed up, I’m going to spend time getting into them. Okay, so I didn’t get back to him quickly at first. It doesn’t mean anything! I was deaf for about three weeks. It wasn’t even possible for me to bloody hear what was in them!”
As for the symphonic tour, Daltrey was inspired after spending the summer of 2018 playing Tommy with orchestras. “I’ll be 75 years old in March and this feels like a dignified way to go and do music,” he explained. “That’s all we’re really left with. We’re old men now. We’ve lost the looks. We’ve lost the glamour. What we’re left with is the music and we’re going to present it in a way which is as fresh and powerful as ever.”
The Who have not yet shared the official tour dates, but Townshend revealed that the tour will kick off at NYC’s Madison Square Garden in April and will move through the Northeast alongside Chicago and Detroit during the initial leg, which will be fourteen shows. The second leg will resume in September and October and will hit the west coast, along with Canada. Most of the shows are at arenas, though Townshend mentioned the possibility of a stadium or two. European tour dates are also a possibility.
As for the upcoming 50th anniversary celebration of Woodstock, Townshend and Daltrey both confirmed that they will not be making a return to the event. “What would be the point? I can’t work outside in the heat anymore like that in August. It’ll kill me. I got really big problems with heat now due to my meningitis. But I think they should do it with young bands. I don’t see why they should have us there… And they couldn’t afford us anyway!”
The Who bandmates also want to make sure that fans understand that the tour isn’t being billed as a “farewell”, though Daltrey goes on to say that this will possibly be his “last tour”. He continues, “I’m just being realistic about going through the 75th year of my life. I have to be realistic that this is the age I am and voices start to go after a while. I don’t want to be not as good as I was two years ago.”
Townshend and Daltrey have both admitted their problems in communicating with each other, which is seemingly already making the process of planning a tour and recording an album difficult. Deciding what material to play, agreeing on new songs, and working with a timeline for a Father’s Day release are just a few of the problems they have cited.
“If they can’t get it by Father’s Day, they don’t care when they’re getting it,” Townshend explained. “And so it might wind up being September or October.” As for Daltrey, he’s less amused. “If it takes us until next fuckin’ Father’s Day, so be it,” he said. “I loathe that part of the business. I just hate it. That’s why they’re working in an office and we’re on the stage.” Read the full feature on The Who’s upcoming tour and album here.
[H/T Rolling Stone]