Foghat ‘… the antithesis of a library, isn’t it?’
Roger Earl is a music fan who sings a pretty decent Johnny Cash impression.
He’s a dad and a proud grandfather. And he also happens to be one of the founding members of the classic blues-rock band Foghat.
“I’m one of the fortunate few in this world who can earn a decent living doing what I love to do,” Earl, the band’s drummer, said in a phone interview from his Long Island, N.Y., home.
Foghat will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Struther’s Library Theatre.
“Foghat playing in a library,” he said, deadpan. “It’s the antithesis of a library, isn’t it?”
With a laugh, he said he’s looking forward to playing in Warren.
In his best deep-voiced Johnny Cash, he sang, “I’ve been everywhere.” Laughing a bit, he added, “Before every show, I still get chills. I still get a thrill out of performing live. It’s a beautiful thing; it’s a lot of fun.”
Earl said, “I love my work. If you love what you do, you aren’t really working. Traveling is work though. Sitting in a bus, a car, a train, a plane … the sitting bit gets old.”
Known for hits like “Slow Ride” and “Fool for the City,” Foghat has been around since 1971. And thanks to the use of the band’s songs in video games and soundtracks, they are still gaining fans. “When you get young people coming out to see you, it means you got it right in the first place,” Earl said. “It makes you feel good when you have an 18-year-old coming up and telling you about their first Foghat song. Music reminds you of times in your life.”
Foghat has been in existence since the time of 8-track tapes, of which Earl is not a fan.
“Oh, I hated those,” he said, “slowing down in the middle of the song and picking back up again. I had a car with an 8-track player. It would always get stuck and unwind.
“CDs I like,” he said. “You have to try hard to ruin them and break them.” Another plus is the portability, he said with a laugh. “You can’t exactly walk around with vinyl under your arm.”
He has a life-long love of music, starting with his grandmother’s Victrola and his father bringing home Jerry Lee Lewis records.
“I’m a huge Johnny Cash fan,” Earl said. “His songs were from the heart, simple tales of growing up in America.”
Even with decades of his own success, millions of miles traveled and millions of fans of his own, Earl spoke almost reverentially about Cash. “I don’t think you ever forget how to be a fan,” he said.
While Earl grew up in southwest London, he said he longed to move to America from an early age. “I wanted to stow away on a ship,” he said. Alas, his older brother convinced him that probably wasn’t the best idea.
“America gives music to the world,” Earl said. And as a musician, the drive to make music keeps him going. “We put an album out every three years or so,” he explained, “just to let our ardent fans know we’re still here and playing.”
About 10 years ago, Foghat lead singer Charlie Huhn asked Earl, “Are you ever going to retire?”
And Earl replied, “Why on earth would I want to do something horrible like that? I don’t know why I would do it.”
Right now, the group plays two to three times a week, a pace that works for Earl. Two of his daughters work in the office, and he gets to spend time with his family.
“Life is good,” he said.
He talked a bit about the upcoming show in Warren, saying there are about a dozen songs they always play, including the hits that are so much a part of the music world. And he’s excited to perform at a smaller venue, explaining there are benefits and drawbacks to playing for 20,000 people or for a few hundred. “I enjoy it more when it’s a little more intimate,” Earl said. “It feels more like you are playing in your living room with a bunch of friends.”
Marcie Schellhammer is assistant managing editor for The Bradford Era