Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Creedence Clearwater Revisited are still rocking, and their rock, kind of like Santa Ynez wine, is aging very well. Their revolutionary American roots rock rings as true now as it did in the 60s, if not even moreso. They’re back at the Chumash Casino’s Samala Showroom on Thursday, February 23, having last visited in 2015. I spoke on the phone with longtime bassist Stu Cook about the endurance of their music, keeping it fresh, and how their ‘60s songs fit the current state of the world.
Where are you right now? I’m in Florida, I live in Florida. I’m in Whole Foods.
What’s on tonight’s menu? Chicken, cauliflower…
What are the perks of living in Florida? The weather, the water, the views of the water. I’m near the Caribbean.
What motivated these upcoming West Coast dates? Dare I say, money? [laughs] It’s a job, but most people would die for it. I try not to take it for granted.
How do you keep it fresh, then? Well, I approach it from a couple different angles. The first one is all, of us are veteran professional musicians, so this is, again, it’s a job, and we take pride in our work. From the start, the attitude’s been, ‘Let’s just play the hell out of this stuff, let’s play it better than last time.’ It doesn’t matter if we did it a thousand times already, I can guarantee it wasn’t perfect the last time. You get on stage, then what happens, the moment takes over, and the audience … you don’t even have to think about what you’re doing really, you’re just interacting. It’s more than entertaining, you’re all really doing it together in a rock show. It’s not like a comedy show where a guy tells a joke and people respond one way or another --- the audience needs to be involved, and fortunately we have catalog that never fails.
How does it feel to see younger generations in your audiences? When we first saw this going on, we were confused. We had no idea we had an audience beyond our original one. As it’s evolved, we see more and more, and younger and younger. It really depends on the venue, like a fair or performing arts center will obviously be a little bit different than a casino, but we’ve got three generations locked up right now and we’re working on the fourth.
Do younger fans respond differently to listeners did when it was first created, or are the responses the same across generations? Is it sort of timeless? Yes, not only generationally, but geographically, people respond to it the same. I don’t want to say it’s timeless, that’s kind of a critic’s phrase. I’m on the inside, and I’m just feeling good about the whole thing at this point in my life. There’s something about it that just inspires a good time -- the groove of it, which is what Doug and I do. We got [Kurt] Griffey on lead guitar, Setve Gunner on keys and singing background vocals, and Dan McGuinness is our recently added lead singer. We still tear it up, and that comes across -- everywhere. South America, people are crazy for Creedence in South America. Australia, Europe, Asian countries as well, there has been a constant touring market for us.
Does it feel kind of like shared property now versus when it first started out? How does it feel to have something whole world is in on?
[laughs],That’s how things spread. … Yeah, you know, it started here and then spread out kind of organically. That’s sort of out of the artist’s control. Radio played biggest part of that, and of course, back in old days, vinyl, cassettes, 8-tracks, all various formats we’ve gone through… and now we don’t really have a format, and we have streaming. It’s spread all around the world, our records, Revival’s stuff has been in Russia, Japan, bootlegged in China with all the rest of them. Some people call it a phenomenon, I just call it rock’n’roll. There’s gotta be some kind of a family tree or genealogy or time line of some sort about it that would explain it, to see how it grew like a tree.
Do your songs have a new meaning now in the Trump era? Yeah, the current political climate is one like we’ve never seen before. I think that the music speaks to really the same issues, not a lot has changed except the year. Not only some of the Creedence catalog, but a lot of artists are going to have material that resonates with people -- when you look around, I mean, even the titles could be the same. Look at “Fortunate Son.” People used to think it was an anti-war song, but right now, if you look at the massive and growing gap between incomes, you know, there’s fortunates and then there’s the rest, and I think you can still identify quite easily with music of the 60s, which of course was a time of great upheaval and social upheaval and war and tension and dissatisfaction. All that’s going on now, only on steroids, that’s my take on it.
It’s sort of like a pendulum, huh? Yeah, there are cycles, but I think right now the pendulum is swinging further and further, because it seems the center is in chaos, and the only voices that you hear are the voices of the extreme, so those are further apart and the pendulum swings wider. It’s a crazy time -- the last ten days have been something, huh?
How does it feel to have journeyed for so long with Doug Clifford, and how do you feel about sharing this stage of the journey, this late into your career? Doug and I go back 58 years now, and we’ve had tremendous success together. We suffered some pretty good defeats together as well, but we never stopped rocking, and now more than ever we understand that this is a real privilege, to be able to play this great music at such a high level, night after night, and still be remembered. We don’t take any of that for granted, and not having it pass us by is the most amazing thing – that we’re still able to rock every night, we still got it together physically enough to travel together. We’re taking it a day at a time, a year at a time, and have as much fun as possible. You never know when the lights, are going out, right? The big lights? You gotta go for it every night, and that’s been our philosophy, always. This might be our last time on stage, let’s not fuck it up, let’s go out on a win. We try and keep it simple, but it’s worked, and this is our 22nd year.
We look forward to having you at the Chumash Casino.I love that Valley, it’s one of my favorite places. I used to be up there all the time in the 80s, I did a lot of work there in small private recording studios. I had a great time in Santa Ynez. They’re one of the worst sufferers of the drought, but they got a lot of moisture recently, so hopefully that helped.
Creedence Clearwater Revisited play the Samala Showroom at the Chumash Casino on Thursday, February 23. For more information, visit chumashcasino.com.