FLMag: Fifty-three years and still going strong – what a ride. Did you ever dream the band would last this long?
PS: I don’t think I ever imagined these kinds of things going on that long. I love to play music and I feel really fortunate but there’s no way you could really imagine ever doing this with the same guys after all this time. We’re pretty fortunate for sure.
FLMag: By the way, congratulations on being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You sold nearly 50 million albums, five top 10 singles, 16 top 40 hits, three multi-platinum albums, seven platinum albums, 14 golden albums, four-time Grammy Award winner and own a rare diamond record for your 1976 album Best of the Doobies – that’s pretty amazing. Don’t you think it took way too long for that talent to be recognized in 2020?
PS: Thank you! I’ve got the award right here. You know, it’s one of those things. There are a lot of bands; we’re one of them [laughs]. I’m just glad I’m still around to enjoy the honor. We imagined we’d eventually get it. There are so many great bands out there and so many yet to be recognized and it’s just somewhat of a humbling experience. We played gigs and had fun and it turned into having a career. We’re really blessed in regards to everything we’ve done with the band.
FLMag: What are some of the challenges (if any) you faced as a band?
PS: I suppose it’s always a challenge getting recognized in the first place. We played a lot of clubs all around the Bay Area. I was lucky if I made $10 a night. But $10 was work. I would work a job for five hours to make $10 in most places those days. I was still probably working five hours with the band but I was doing something I loved. And $2 in those days was maybe average pay per hour so I felt pretty good about that.
FLMag: Your first big hit “Listen to the Music,” is there a story behind it?
PS: It was Tom Johnston’s (guitarist and lead singer) vision of a song and wanting to write a real positive kind of a tune … I heard him say that he wrote the lyrics thinking about the world’s situation, the leaders of the world, and all the tension that was going on and if they just got together outdoors and listened to some music they could all come together and the world would be a better place. That was kind of the idealist vision that we all had in those days. We were all sort of hippies and that was his intention – to write a positive song that would be uplifting, and I think he did a good job.
FLMag: The Doobie Brothers are back on the road for their 50th anniversary tour. What has it been like so far and what is the biggest change from the ’70s to now?
PS: I don’t think the touring is so much different. You travel and the drill is the same. You get there, you get a sound check in and rehearse. Then you get out and play. I think the biggest change I’ll direct out to the audience is the fabulous sound systems that bring a truer sound of what a band truly is. (In earlier days) you record and couldn’t possibly re-create that sound because you have the limitations of the sound systems, the instruments, and the amplifications. These days, you bring in this high technology and digital filtering between the artist and the actual presentation to the audience. You can make things sound great, you have reverb choices, the speakers are high technology, the cabinets that project the sounds are the best money can buy.
And, of course, we know the songs better too [laughs].
FLMag: Tell us about your latest album Liberté and what the fans can expect coming to your show.
PS: We are doing a couple of new songs from the new album, Liberté. So that’s kind of cool. Tommy, Mike McDonald, and I have been in the studio recording some new tracks. Mike hasn’t recorded with us for 40 years, so it’s kind of a big deal. He’s done appearances with us but this is completely from the ground up kind of fun.
WHAT: The Doobie Brothers 50th Anniversary Tour
WHEN: May 25
WHERE: Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
MORE INFORMATION: myHRL.com