By José Oliveira and Rosine Alleva, Rock At Night Journalist/Photographers–Colmar, France
Location: A Friday Apero in Colmar before the Holidays
Thirty years after the departure of Roger Hodgson from the legendary group that conquered the world in the 70’s, TIME TO TRAMP is ready to please the fans of all ages with their tribute to SUPERTRAMP, and to rediscover the richness of Hodgson and Davies unforgettable music. I was present at their first concert in Colmar.
I have to admit that I went to the concert, at The GRILLEN, to meet Virginie (an old acquaintance) but also with a touch of mistrust and curiosity about Raymond’s involvement in this project! I had already been very impressed (in the right way, obviously) with the FRANK ZAPPA project by Bernard Struber !!! A magnificent work!
First big surprise, arriving on the parking, was to see this huge queue waiting to get in. I had never seen this at the GRILLEN!
And then, at the first chords and especially, when I heard the voice of Angelo, I was blown away! What a class ! And what a welcome !!!
So my first question was :
RAN- Were you expecting to see so many people for your first concert?
Tony Tardio – What is very important to clarify is that it was our first concert! Well, first is always delicate. We have a certain local notoriety, each one of us evolves in different musical formations. We expected the venue, not to be empty, but seeing a queue like this and hear that, even about twenty people were not able to come in, very honestly, I didn’t expect this!
Raymond Halbeisen – And at the same time we were hoping for it. Because we worked hard on it. With all the support of the local press and the promotion which announced the realization of this concert well in advance, with the newspapers, radio, media, social networks, we worked a lot. At the same time, we were hoping for it!
Christian Clua – For me this is only half a surprise. Obviously, I’m not talking about the queue but the reaction to our “teaser” had been very positive! A lot of people, a few weeks before, said they saw our teaser and found it great! They asked to be informed when we would present our project on stage and they would come! So, I’d say it’s a bit of a surprise! But an excellent surprise, anyway!
RAN- I confess I didn’t even see your teaser before your concert! Someone even told me “ you haven’t seen their teaser yet? It’s just awesome”.
How is this Tribute to SUPERTRAMP project born? And why, SUPERTRAMP? There are so many other groups that would serve that kind of business.
Tony- In fact, everyone of us knew each other through common or parallel projects, and it began with Angelo’s voice, which has been the catalyser of the project. We took the best elements with the right state of mind, to match this Tribute to SUPERTRAMP project!
Christian- I Raymond met him through this project. The project, if the memories I’ve been told are right, was born when the two keyboard players, Angelo and Mario, played one day together in Germany, one or two titles of SUPERTRAMP and picked a very favorable reaction of the public. That day, they realized it would perhaps be good to dig this idea and make a tribute to SUPERTRAMP! From there Mario brought his brother, Angelo said “if we do this I want Christian to be on the guitar” and then I proposed Virginia for everything that was backing vocals and acoustic guitar. Mario brought Jean Raymond in, with whom he had already worked, that’s how it happened. And the bass player plays with me and Virginie Schaeffer. So, it all came from there, and very quickly the idea of a band reappeared!
Raymond- I met Mario in a studio!
RAN- How long did it take you to reach such a perfection? What was the most difficult to achieve? Harmonies or instrumental parts?
Raymond – if we think about it, for example, the first time I heard the saxophone choruses on the original versions, when I was very young, I thought, one day I would like to do that! So, somewhere, unconsciously, I may have prepared myself for this encounter!
Christian – Historically for me, SUPERTRAMP is the music of my graduation year! I was in a high school where there was a fireplace and in all the recreations we went to this fireplace, between noon and 2, and it was the time for ALAN PARSONS, SUPERTRAMP, GENESIS… I listened to it all year long. There were not 40,000 MP3s per person at that time, as it is the case today. We listened to what was proposed to us and I remember this year of my graduation! The end of my adolescence! Inevitably it is something that immediately snapped me, play SUPERTRAMP!! And when we plunged into their work, I listened to all the pieces on headphones and I noticed the difficulty. I realized that when we hear a piece of SUPERTRAMP just like that, in the hubbub, we realize that there are little guitar notes here and there but in fact the production is extremely well polished. There are often two or three guitars at the same time and the difficulty has been to reproduce it as efficiently as possible, to find the right sound, the right interpretation. It is not yet 100% but for me that’s where the problem was! We had to take out the old chorus pedals and the sounds have changed since SUPERTRAMP was successful!
RAN-I think that, on the drums side, things were easier, right?
Tony- The difficulty in the SUPERTRAMP repertoire is not so much the technical parts of drums, whatever he’s far from being a one –armed! But the constructions of the pieces especially are played with very different themes, following each other randomly, and we sometimes wonder what this theme comes to do here when we didn’t expect it at all! That’s what the charm of that era was, the POP PROGRESSIVE, as it was called. As I had worked a lot on the music of PHIL COLLINS or GENESIS, It was my musical culture at the time, so I easily found myself in the SUPERTRAMP world. Although, again I am the younger of a family where we listened a lot of SUPERTRAMP at home, I was already immersed in this universe. I found a super interesting report and while I try to retain the parts of drums identity, what I do is just bring a little freshness, while respecting the essential, of course.
RAN- And how long did it take you to do all this?
Raymond – The basic idea was first, to do three residence days. We would be together for three days, but before this, the idea was that everyone would work their parts so that when we would meet, the main part would be ready. So, each one worked his parts in order to perfect and develop the project during this residence.
RAN- This requires, in my opinion, a very high individual professional degree to achieve such a result.
Tony – Yes, the work sessions were really very intense but there was also a huge pleasure in doing it, which was pushing us to the success of this challenge!
RAN- Finally, the result is so perfect that when I published your “teaser” on Facebook, a few American friends and especially Canadians, immediately reacted very favorably. There was a sort of astonishment, to see a French group accomplish such a success! Some said you had “a treasure in your hands” !! (Laughs). Are you aware that you have HUGE potential? The welcome you had at the GRILLEN proved it!!
Tony – Huge, I don’t know but certainly a potential yes! Again, due to the individual musical experience of each one, the knowledge of the scene I would say as well, an easy contact with the public, but we remain above all very humble but who knows if one day this potential will be enough to cross the Atlantic ! (Laughs) For the project, we realized that we had something serious in the hands and everyone took it very seriously. We really felt a unity and a willingness to bring this beautiful story forward.
Christian – For me, the potential is our keyboard player and singer Angelo, with a team of professionals around, who are doing the job seriously! A real teamwork!
RAN- In your opinion, how do you explain this enthusiasm for the Tributes Bands?
Tony – There is a real interest for some Tribute Bands. All this period of the 60’s and the progressive rock movement with bands like YES, QUEEN, KING CRIMSON, GENESIS, take the lion’s share! It is very popular, as well for the general audience. Of course, it is true that there are more specific Tributes which have a very different path and more difficult to be heard but there is truly a new current in this direction!
Christian – I’ll have a more Cartesian explanation. I still feel that the young people do not go too much to concerts and that the people coming to concerts belong to a generation who knew all these bands, which are now Tributes, by nostalgia perhaps, and it became a fashion.
Raymond – Perhaps it might be due to the difficulty of playing this music. Because it’s still a specific repertoire, you still have to work a lot and it’s a music that hasn’t been played live for a long time too!
RAN- I had the opportunity to see SUPERTRAMP live and later to meet ROGER HODGSON. An amazing musician, a cool and friendly person. But in SUPERTRAMP one can not forget the role of the other leader, RICK DAVIES. What is your approach to these two slightly different styles?
Tony – Difficult question! Well, they were composing together. It is this alliance that made their success, although they suffered great failures at the beginning. It is this complementarity that became their brand image and solidified their deep friendship. Currently they are no longer buddies. This contributed widely to the writing of these magnificent hits they did!
RAN- Well today indeed, this friendship within SUPERTRAMP is over and they even did split into two bands. There were some legal problems regarding this split but everything seems to be settled now.
Tony – On the other hand, we already dealt with them, concerning our Teaser. We wanted to push it a little more towards the Universe of SUPERTRAMP, we then posted the video on YouTube and we’ve been locked!!! After a few comprises, everything is fine now.
RAN- What brings you the beautiful Virginie Schaeffer in this magnificent adventure?
(General laughs)- Christian – We needed a high-pitched voice. I work a lot with her and in addition Virginie is also guitarist, and there is acoustic guitar in some pieces of SUPERTRAMP. As she also does the backing vocals, she was the musician we needed! Well, as in SUPERTRAMP there was no girl, people can’t say we are a true copy!
RAN- And now, where is the border between reason and madness? Which means what will happen next?
Raymond – What’s next? We are looking to play, we have the luck to have already a concert scheduled for next month, which in my opinion, will also be very popular, given the enthusiasm already shown for the ticket office. We really start to work at finding solutions that will help us to hit the road. We have a management which will not forget to solicit the fact we’re at the border with Germany and Switzerland.
Tony – There is a real desire to move forward with this project and we will work with promoter networks specialized in this type of projects. We are currently focusing on social networks system of communication, which aims to make it known beyond the national reach! You have to know that this project will only live on stage!
RAN- Cherry on the cake, I inform you that there is already an interest to organize a concert in Portugal! !
In the general euphoria, Porto wine is poured again.
Stay tuned !