Huey Lewis & The News to play Mohegan Sun Wednesday, Nov. 1
“Come on out; you’ll love it,” says Huey Lewis at the end of a phone interview from California about his tour stop Wednesday, Nov. 1, at Mohegan Sun Arena with his band The News. “We’re a much better band now.”
Which is surprising for the 67-year-old to say, given the group’s wave of hits and tight sound back then, magnified by the “Back to the Future” film exposure of the tunes “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time.” Here’s an edited look at our chat last week.
Q: Longevity ... I get a kick out of it because I guess as we get older we say, “Wow, that person’s done it for that long!” Does that blow your mind?
HL: Yes (laughing), it does, it does. And it creeps up on you, right? I mean, we played a little benefit here in Mill Valley (Calif., Oct. 15) at the Mill Valley Film Festival ... (where) we played downtown Mill Valley at the Sweetwater (Music Hall). And I remembered that the last time I played downtown ... was 41 years before that at the club across the street.
Q. The current lineup of The News (all going way back) is Sean Hopper, Bill Gibson, Johnny Colla, Stef Burns, John Pierce and the horn section (Marvin McFadden, Rob Sudduth and Johnnie Bamont)?
A: That’s right. ... We have subs in the horn players because we want them to make as much money as they can. Marvin, the trumpet player, has three jobs; there’s not a lot of gigs for a trumpet player. So when a Broadway show comes into town and he can work eights shows in a week and maybe we only have (one or) two shows that week, we let him out and we sub.
Q. From the start, you guys were real musicians, as opposed to groups that came in and were just chasing fame or something. And you weren’t shy about adding a horn section or harmonica, even. You just did your thing your own way?
A: That’s exactly it and it’s the thing we’re proudest of. And I was no spring chicken; I was 30 when we (formed as The News) ... in the summer of 1980.
Q. The music is great, but the lyrics I also stop on to appreciate the clever words that fit the music so well. Are you proud of that aspect?
A: Absolutely, and I will tell you, there’s currently in development a musical based on all of our songs. And it’s really, really good. They’ve had readings for it in New York. ... It’s going to be a show. I had remarkably little to do with it. ... They wrote a completely different book ... made up this story and wound it through our disparate songs.
Q. What’s the demo of your audience?
A: It’s not demographics, someone once explained to me, it’s psychographics. It’s taste, you know what I mean? ... First of all, we get all the horn players because we have a horn section. ... You can feel a real section; you can’t feel tape. ... They’re pushing air; a real horn section pushes air and you can feel it. It’s awesome.
Q. You’re still doing like 70 concert dates a year?
A: More. We’re going to do 80 this year. That’s plenty, but once again, we have a good band and it’s like an athlete; you gotta play. You take too much time off and it’s not good, especially for the cats. For me, time off is better because (of) my voice ... it’s hard for me to do five in a row.”
Q. You have some dates coming up in Japan.
A: They’re an interesting audience; they’re frighteningly sober and attentive, like crazy. Pin drop. But the other 22 hours are very interesting.
Q. The acting thing (“Back to the Future,” “King of Queens”). You’ve had these gigs, but it’s not like you chase it. You don’t do reality TV?
A: You won’t see me on “Dancing with the Stars.” I made a deal with myself to do things for creative reasons. ... I did “Chicago” on Broadway for 222 shows as Billy Flynn and ... (production manager) Deb Marks told me, “One, is it a lot of money? Two, is it good for my brand somehow? (He scoffed at that). And three, is it something I really want to do.”
Q. Mohegan Sun is a 10,000-seat arena. I remember seeing you at the New Haven Coliseum and you filled that place with sound.
a: And we’ve got some new material. ... We’re recording it slowly but surely, and we’re going to have a record out. And by the way, it’s going to be really good. ... honestly, some of our best work, at least as good as our best work. It’s going to come out next summer.
Jamarante@nhregister.com; Twitter: @Joeammo