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Ten Questions with...


John Payne

(Many thanks to Sandy Serge for passing these Q's on)

Vocalist/bass player John Payne was in Asia from the 90's onwards with original member Geoff Downes and now fronts Asia featuring John Payne plus GPS, a more progressive band whose debut album received deserved rave reviews. He as also appeared in 'War Of The Worlds' this year.

What are you currently up to? (recording, gigs, plans)

Yes, yes and yes.

Recording ASIA FJP wise we have just finished a 5 track EP for the (Bob Hope) USO organization. We are donating our royalties to this worthy cause. It's a good charity, whether you are for or against the war, it benefits the affected where the government falls short. We are probably going to release the same record in the UK but for the Poppy Appeal. Also today I am singing on the lead track for the next studio CD.

We are also some way through the GPS album which we deliver to Inside Out / SPV and the end of the year. We have made this consciously very heavy prog at 180 degrees to ASIA sounding. It's fun to be more experimental sometimes.

Gig wise we are doing a few shows with ASIA FJP in the States at the moment and the response has been encouraging. It was really only after the release of Extended Versions by Sony that spurred me on.

We have half a dozen shows on our own or with other bands till the end of the year. Dokken. Great White, Styx, Doobies and the Little River Band are on bills with us.

Plans hey, what are they. To survive and keep living the life or Riley as my Dad would say. It is great to still be doing this. Next year we are going to step up the touring and will have 2 new studio CD's and a live DVD.

You are now fronting John Payne’s Asia. Are there plans to do extensive tours and will is this a live band only or will there possibly be some recording at some stage in the future? Do you actually own the Asia band name?

Yes, Yes and I suppose the answer is in question one.
The ASIA name. How long have you got. Let's say that finally it has been legally resolved with all parties and I now own ASIA featuring John Payne.

Were you pleased with the reception to the GPS album from fans and reviewers?

After the 14 years in ASIA I had a lot to prove, even to myself, with GPS. It was hard as I was going through Legal Issues and basically financial restraints but I suppose that is part of what this industry is.

I did not read our reviews initially. I have a strange thing about press. Good reviews make you smug and bad reviews just piss you off. The important part to me is to be honest to yourself and work your arse of to try and make something special.

What surprised me was the reaction even from metal press. It was good!

Let's hope the next one can do the same.

It was good to tour the UK and meet new fans... loved it!

How did you land the role in ‘War Of The Worlds’ and how have you found the transition from fronting a live band to a nightly show with a set script and song list?

I remember hearing my Dad playing that record over and over and the dark wild voice of the Parson. My ex Manager, Adam Parsons, contacted me and then Jeff Wayne asked me along to his Hertfordshire Studio.

I actually sang on the original master. It was a great challenge. Phill Lynott's voice was more powerful than I'd imagined. Even the speaking parts are powerful.

I gave it my best shot and heard from JW a few months later, I had actually forgotten about it by then.

On stage it was a blast. Again a huge challenge as the part, being true to Lynott, was intense. The timing was also crucial as Richard Burton was in a fixed place dialog wise. I wasn't sure I could do it but the production was so impressive that night after night the adrenalin rush was superb. I'm glad I did it but I don't think I could ever do a West End type thing. I love to travel and I like spontaneity.

What were the highlights a) song wise and b) live with Asia?

It was great to work with Justin Heywood and Chris Thompson. I watched them every night with WOTW.

With Asia I had many special shows. The first show in Japan in 92 was awesome. Also Harvey Goldsmith promoted two sell out nights at London's Town and Country club. The wildest show we ever had was in Spain, they are so passionate about music.

In the set at the moment I have two faves, one is Sole Survivor and the Other is Desire.

GPS shows were also fun with New Jerusalem being the highlight of the shows.

How did you get your first break into the music business? What piece of advice would you pass onto budding musicians?

I got a lot of encouragement from Jim Rodford of the Kinks as a kid. He was really supportive of local bands around the St Albans area. I still see him and I also worked a lot with his son Steve who is now in the Zombies.

I also got asked to work with record producer Alan Shacklock and he got me to sing on two Daltrey albums and from that point the stone just kept on rolling.

Who have most enjoyed touring with and why? Who else would you like to tour with if given the chance?

I have had the chance to work and meet and become friends with many of my heroes.

Two that really come to mind, and this answers some of the next question, were Paul Rodgers and Ronnie James Dio.

These guys sing as well if not better than they ever did. Anyone who doesn't think these two guys are two of the best voices in rock should work in a hat store!

I have such a great respect for many artists. There is much to learn from working with the giants of our business and not just rock and rollers. I'll give you a short list, JOURNEY, PURPLE, STEVIE WONDER, FLOYD. etc etc

Who have been your musical heroes/influences and why?

Blackmore, Santana, Hendrix, Jan Akkerman, Trower, Schenker. As a kid I started on guitar and it was the guitarists that drew me in. What a time to grow up! music was really evolving then.

After that it was vocalists. I was always into power singers, Rodgers, Dio, Dewer, Joe Lynne, Glen Hughes, Coverdale, Gillan, Graham Bonnet and lyrical singers like Perry, Steve Walsh . Also Nat King Cole, Brook Benton and James Brown, Otis, Sam Cook and Marvin Gaye

What do you like doing with your spare time outside of music?

I have little time outside music. I'm so lucky that this is my hobby as well.

I love to cook spicy foods and talk rubbish over a few beers.

I am passionate about animals and have owned exotic pets both furry and human!

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Interview © September 2008 Jason Ritchie.
All rights reserved.

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