Emmy Award nominee director Alan G. Parker ('Monty Python: Almost The Truth', 'Who Killed Nancy?') tells us about his new “definitive documentary”, 'Hello Quo'...
Quo seem to be loved by punks, metallers and rockers. What do you think is their universal appeal?
“I think they crossover, that Motorhead appeal. No matter what you listen to, they have one you like! I’ve heard songs by them at parties over the years and not known it was them because it’s like a new song. Guys I know who don’t like them are like, ‘this is good’. Then it’s Quo. That song ‘Two Way Traffic’ from the last album, I was out with Steve Diggle for a beer and it comes on in this boozer, we are both like ‘this is incredible!’. And it’s the new Quo single.”
How was it seeing the original line-up back together after all this time?
“When we first got the gig we knew there had been various other Quo documentaries throughout the years, but we also knew that ours was the first to be interviewing all of the original ‘Frantic Four’. Once that was set in stone, Alexa (my producer) was keen on, well, if we are interviewing them all, why can’t they play something? And she just kept pushing it. So last December, in front of an audience of no more than about 28 (full film crew included) we got to see, and film, a very historic jam session. History in the making…”
With 'Hello Quo' you are telling the story of one of the most influential rock bands – what was your motivation to do a documentary about them?
“As I said in the press release, I don’t think there can be a name further away from this project than mine! Sid Vicious, SLF, Monty Python. Hell, The Great Train Robbers, the next logical step isn’t Status Quo! But I think over the last 18 months that has proved itself to be a strength more than a weakness. Because I wasn’t as close to the story as some directors might have been, I think that helped the project breath a bit. We had barely signed the contract when we were told it was between you and the guy who did The Beatles Anthology! No pressure then lads.” The film is fully supported by the band and features prominent figures of the rock 'n' roll business, such as Thin Lizzy, Paul Weller and Buzzcocks. So how did working with Status Quo and the other musicians come about? It must have been quite an honour to work with all of them?
“I knew there was a good Quo/Jam story because of Bruce’s days in SLF, and I know Paul anyway, so I figured that would be good. Slade, Lizzy and Sweet are of the time so I wanted their involvement, Steve Diggle and Paul Weller both had Quo as their first rock gig! It was very cool to get Brian May and Jeff Lynn. Putting Cliff Richard into the movie means my mum now thinks that what we do is legit! The whole project came about because of the 'Monty Python' movie which I was Emmy nominated for. The rest was/is history.”
You know the music industry quite well as you've worked in it since your twenties. What is you personal opinion regarding the changes in the industry and the rock bands nowadays compared to the ones from the '60s?
“I don’t think we’ve got anything new! I hate myself already for saying that but I look at my iPod and it's Slade, Lizzy, Sweet, The Beatles, KISS, Motley, Metallica, The Clash, Jovi, Ozzy, Leppard, Marc. You get my point, about the newest thing on there is the Manics, and whichever way you slice it, that’s not new. I loved the last Papa Roach album, but again, I think that the very best is behind us bands wise. But I think in the way we access music, and certainly in music film, there is far more to come.
Finally, what are your future plans? With documentaries about The Clash and Sex Pistols, can we expect another music documentary or do you want to run another path?
“I have a big movie lined up next with a very big group… uber big! Can’t say who yet I’m afraid, but you’ll see, can’t say anymore. We are being offered scripts too, so you never know. Quo is my third cinematic release but my tenth actual movie, so we have come a long way and I have a great team behind me. I’m ready, that much is true.”
Read the rest of this interview in the new issue (no. 9) of Vive Le Rock, which you can order now HERE.