Europeans & How We Live

Interview with John Otway



John Otway


Back in 1982, The Europeans recorded an album with English superstar John Otway, called "All Balls and No Willy." (the title refers to the absence of Wild Willy Barrett, his previous collaborator) John was very kind to answer a few questions about his involvement with the Europeans for this site. Thanks to John for taking the time to reply.




How did you come about recording "All Balls and No Willy" with the Europeans in 1982?

The Europeans supported me on several dates - they were one of the tightest live bands I had seen. I was looking for someone to record with and thought that a band that was already a unit might work better than a bunch of session musicians put together for the sessions. We tried a couple of demos, and when they worked well I suggested doing an album. They agreed although they did not want it to be a Otway Europeans album and elected to be credited individually.


Did the sessions take place before Europeans started releasing their own records through A&M ?

Yes - They became much busier after they got a deal which was I think shortly after we'd finished the album so we did not get to promote it live together.



Europeans in 1982



How much input did the band have on the arrangement of the songs on the album? "Mass Communication" sounds particularly "Europeans" in sound and theme.

My playing is not good and I relied on them for a lot of the arrangements - I would sing the melody to them and they would find their way from there. I was working with them 'cause I liked what they did as the Europeans and so it was natural that their sound had an influence on the album.




How long did the recording take?

I decided that it would be a good idea to record the tracks as live as possible so we rented a rehearsal space and then brought a mobile in to record the songs. All the backing tracks are live with the vocals and some solos overdubbed. we then went to Basing Street Studios to mix it.


Did the band work on their own material in the studio?

No, they wanted to keep their own project separate from what they were doing with me. A sensible move!!




Any stories about the sessions?

I had just bought a saxophone and was determined to play a few solos on the album - it took the ages. In retrospect I shouldn't have bothered as everything else on the album is played so well.


John Otway




Did you play the songs Live with the Europeans?

I did a few dates with them on a band behind the curtain tour - I sang in front of a screen and they were featured in silhouette behind me - This was the only way I could get them on the same stage.




The CD re-issue of "All Balls & No Willy"


What is your favourite track on the album?

Probably "Baby It's The Real thing" - We still do it with the band live now with the same arrangement


Did you follow the band's progress afterwards? Have you seen any of the members since?

To an extent - I've seen Steve since he joined Marillion - (An Aylesbury Band)




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