This has been a tough year for touring, with many music acts singing the blues over anemic concert attendance amidst the recession. However, “You can make it work if you want to,” contends Pat Simmons.
The Doobie Brothers’ founding member, currently riding a fresh wave of acclaim with the band’s new “World Gone Crazy” album, goes on, “I think it probably has to do with people’s expectations. I think some of the bigger artists have expectations that they’re going to sell out stadiums. Some can’t face having to step down another rung. People actually cancel tours because they’re unable to accept the fact they’re not filling baseball stadiums. The problem is with their egos. Why not go into a smaller venue? Why not lower your ticket prices? You have to be realistic.”
At this stage of their careers — with some 30 million in album sales already under their belts — the Doobies “don’t have a lot of illusions about what we do. We have continued to tour over 20 years with this entity we have. We’ve been working. We love it,” says Simmons. “It’s not just a job to us.”
Not surprisingly, he finds the welcoming reception to “World Gone Crazy” — the band’s first album in a decade – “really satisfying, I have to say.” The result of a collaboration with their original producer, Ted Templeman, the album features appearances by Willie Nelson and by former member Michael McDonald, along with members Simmons, Tom Johnston, John McFee and Mike Hossack. They’ve performed live with Nelson and McDonald in recent times, and Simmons won’t be surprised if there are more joint appearances.
“Mike is just a great guy and one of my best friends, so I see him quite often. To have him do this song (“Don’t Say Goodbye”) was something special for me personally, after playing with him for so many years,” Simmons notes. “I kind of heard his voice on the track before he did it. Ted and I were talking one day, and said, ‘You think Mike would come in and do the track?’” As it turned out, not only did McDonald perform vocals, but his wife Amy – “She’s a great singer,” says Simmons – and past Doobie collaborator Gail Swanson came in as backup vocalists. “Mike with the two girls,” he says, “it was the exact sound we were looking for.”