News / Arts & Entertainment

Rumour Has It: Rocker Graham Parker is Back

Singer Graham Parker arrives at the premiere of
Singer Graham Parker arrives at the premiere of "This is 40," Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, Dec. 12, 2012.
Reuters
Decades on from his days as an angry young rocker, a role in a Hollywood movie playing an aging musician struggling to make a comeback has helped give a new lease of life to Graham Parker.
 
In the movie, Judd Apatow's "This is 40," the bid fails. In the real world, however, things are going pretty well for the 62-year-old London native.
 
He's brought out a well-received album, a documentary and a concert film with his reunited backing band, the Rumour. In late October they play their first British dates in 31 years. The London show sold out straight away.
 
"This guy won't go away. It's like Whac-a-Mole — hit him on the head, but he keeps coming back," Parker told Reuters in an interview. "It's all come out in my favor in many ways."
 
Parker has lived in upstate New York since 1988 and for years has played mostly solo in small venues in the United States.
 
"It doesn't quite seem real, better things are happening than they were a few years ago. But you don't know what's around the corner and you better take it as it comes," said Parker, who sports a grey goatee and wears large red-framed spectacles.
 
The movie "This is 40" is a comedy about a record executive going through a family crisis while his independent company is failing. The character, played by Paul Rudd, pins his hopes on reviving the career of a fading rock veteran.
 
Apatow, a longtime Parker fan, got in touch to ask him to play the part. Not only would he do it, Parker replied, he would bring along the Rumour, which he had just reformed to record an album.
 
The movie, a critical and commercial hit, saw the Rumour play live for the first time in years and a funny, scene-stealing performance from Parker appearing as himself.
 
A DVD of the full Rumour show recorded for the movie has just been released entitled "This is Live."
 
Parker was amazed that the London shows sold out so quickly, believing that getting the grizzled veterans back together would not be a good business move.
 
"When people used to say 'Will you reform Graham Parker and the Rumour?' I always said the only reason to reform a band is to make lots of money and we wouldn't be making our pensions, like the Eagles or Duran Duran."
 
"I'm doing it for all the wrong reasons, which is music, music, music. So I feel a bit righteous."
 
Snarling
 
Parker burst onto the London scene in the mid-1970s with a brand of hard-edged, soul-influenced music with lyrics that railed against the world. The one-time petrol pump attendant snarled out defiant songs and earned a reputation as a somewhat bitter and twisted character.
 
"I was trying to reinvent soul music with Dylanesque lyrics," he said.
 
Critics loved his first two albums, "Heat Treatment" and "Howling Wind," both from 1976, and his shows with the Rumour were hard-driving, impassioned events. For a while he was the next big thing. Bob Dylan was a fan and put him on the bill of his fabled Blackbushe concert in 1978.
 
But when Punk came along, Parker was deemed unfashionable and the media spotlight turned elsewhere.
 
"I wasn't nasty enough, I wasn't dumb enough, too old-style and too clever," he said.
 
Still his records sold fairly well, peaking with "Squeezing Out Sparks" in 1979.
 
"So I was having a blast, being treated like somebody, limo rides to [David] Letterman. Meanwhile in the press it was like 'we knew he was crap anyway.'"
 
Worn out by the road, the Rumour disbanded in 1982. Parker went on to work with others and put out several strong albums, but by the late 1980s, he had slipped out of the mainstream.
 
Sipping a cup of tea during the interview — he had just got in from dates in Japan and was leaving for Ireland the next day — he looks back on his early years with self-deprecating humor and said his angry reputation was "overstated."
 
"It wasn't really true, I got egged on," he said.
 
In a crowd-sourced documentary that aired in March, admirer Bruce Springsteen commented that the young Parker was "caustic."
 
"There's a hard edge to the songs that makes them a bit unpalatable," Parker conceded. "When I listen to something from 'Howling Wind,' I think aw, that's nasty."
 
On his new album, "Three Chords Good," Parker is mellower.
 
In the song at its heart, "Long, Emotional Ride," he sings: "I never took one word of advice/Never in my whole life/But now I wanna hear what other people say."
 
The song was a result of the response to the crowd-sourcing appeal for the documentary, he said.
 
"I realized people have cared about me for a long time. It was very moving and humbling. They wanted the story to be told. It blew me away."

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”