March 8, 2019 Interview – Glenn Shorrock, A Founding Member of Little River Band
Coming of age during the early days of Rock-n-Roll, Glenn Shorrock quickly discovered that it was not only something he loved, but a dream he wanted to follow. Going on to be the frontman of The Twilights, Axiom and Little River Band (later known as LRB), Shorrock put his own stamp in the history books of Rock-n-Roll. Leading Little River Band to major success in the 1970s, the band had major hits, and has sold over 25 million albums in their career, majorly thanks to Shorrock.
Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, both as a member of Little River Band, and as a solo artist, Shorrock continues his rock on and off the stage. Now with the release of his latest album, Glenn Shorrock Sings Little River Band, he puts a new twist on ten classic songs from the band that is bound to draw attention. Excited for the future, the Rock legend sat down to chat about his career, the success of Little River Band, the potential of touring the USA, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – You have had quite a career in Rock-n-Roll, from The Twilights to Little River Band. As a founding member of Little River Band, you not only were the voice in front the band for over a decade, but also a driving force as a songwriter. Through the years of success, how would you describe your journey as a musician?
Glenn Shorrock – Very rewarding and everything I thought it would be. There was no plan really, I just took the opportunities that came my way mainly through meeting other people and widening my musical parameters. The beginnings were very basic growing up in South Australia. I was twelve years of age when I heard “Heartbreak Hotel” on the radio, I didn’t know who the hell it was, found out who it was, and that began my love of Rock-n-Roll – Little Richard, The Everly Brothers; I just sort everything out. I was one of those newly turned teenagers – I believe Alan Freed coined the phrase teenager – I was one of them, and Rock-n-Roll was my church.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. As mentioned, you were a member of The Twilights before forming other bands such as Little River Band. What were those early years in Rock-n-Roll like with so many great acts coming out at the time?
Glenn Shorrock – The Twilights were a vocal group to begin with. We were a Doo-Wop group, we would sing The Beach Boys, Dion and the Belmonts, that kind of stuff, just cutting our teeth. We would sing along side a lead singer with a back-up guitar band like The Ventures. Then surprise, surprise, in 1963, we hear about this homogenized 4-piece band from Liverpool called The Beatles, and everything shifted seismically sideways. Off we went, we were a beat group mainly as a recording group, we were a 6-piece by then – two lead singers, myself, and my good friend Clem “Paddy” McCartney, no relation to Paul. We got famous in our street, our town, in our nation, and followed the bouncing ball.
Cryptic Rock – It sounds like it was a fun time. As Rock-n-Roll changed, you changed with it. That in mind, Little River Band had a great deal of success and saw a shift in sound from your previous works. What was that change like for you?
Glenn Shorrock – I changed with it, I went along for the ride, and maybe I instigated some of that change. We copied a lot of things we heard and gradually got the confidence to stand on our own creativity/material. I never ignored singing, playing, or performing other people’s music – there is too much good music around these days to ignore it, and it was in those days as well.
If you wanted to know what The Beatles were doing next, you would go and listen to The Twilights. (Laughs) We used to get their release of their albums/singles before the radio stations in Australia got them; don’t ask me how, but we did. That was a cue to us, we learned these songs – “Penny Lane,” “Strawberry Fields,” etc.
As you said, music grew, and largely because of what The Beatles did. They transformed what was a dance craze basically into an art form. Mind you they were a copy band as well, weren’t they? They cut their teeth on exactly the same stuff that I did.
Cryptic Rock – Very true. They were influenced heavily by Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Elvis, Chuck Berry, etc.
Glenn Shorrock – Absolutely. That is why I related to how they sounded. In fact, when I first heard “Please Please Me,” which was their first release in Australia, I thought, “Shit, it sounds like Don and Phil (The Everly Brothers), they have gone a bit rocky.” Then I was shown a photography of a newly arrived migrate from Liverpool who said, “These are the Beatles, they are the greatest band in Liverpool.”
Cryptic Rock – It is fascinating to see how the history of Rock-n-Roll developed. You have a new album out where you re-record classic Little River Band songs, calling the album Glenn Shorrock Sings Little River Band. What led to the decision to record this album?
Glenn Shorrock – Someone talked me into it really. (Laughs) The producer, Steve Balbi, said, “Why don’t you go look at those songs, they are forty years old now, why don’t you go have a look at them?” I said, “I do that every time I work; I sing the hits.” He said, ” I think we can freshen them up.” Steve is a bass player who became a producer, he was a fan of mine and my voice. I told him, “You run with it, which ones do you want to do?” We arrived at those ten songs.
I think of it now, because I am very happy with the result, as trying to regain my legacy. It was just fun to revisit them in a slightly different way. It’s forty years later, I think my voice is better now, it’s more mature, and you can hear I’m having fun with it. I think the actual title, Glenn Shorrock Sings Little River Band, would make people say, “Wasn’t he in Little River Band?” (Laughs) I don’t expect to make a huge comeback or expect everyone to like what I’ve done with the songs. I don’t think I’ve messed with them too much. I think they have a much more immediacy, because we did it pretty live in the studio with only a couple of overdubs of saxophones. Basically we recorded over a three day period and had a bit of fun.
Cryptic Rock – The recordings came out great and have a really Rock-n-Roll vibe since they were live. As you said, it’s been forty years, so what was it like revisiting the material in the studio?
Glenn Shorrock – It felt pretty good. As I say, I’ve been working since my parting with LRB, although the ghost still follows me around. I knew which way to go and Steve knew what to do. For instance, “Reminiscing,” that is a fairly radical change from the original. We wanted to do it as a Jazz trio in a smokey club, just me with acoustic based drums and piano, it works!
For “Lonesome Loser,” I said let’s do it with a “Heard It Through The Grapevine” feel. We didn’t do the A Capella harmony, I wanted to keep away from the block harmony of LRB; in some respects it’s a little dated, but people would argue that’s the sound of LRB. I am quite happy people think that, but my voice has changed quite a bit. As I said, it’s gotten stronger.
I’m not ignoring other people’s songs, I sing The Beatles every night, or “All Shook Up.” There is so much out there to sing. I started in a cover band, The Twilights were a cover band, we didn’t write our songs to begin with, we just copied what we heard on the radio. Maybe that’s where I will end up, singing more covers. Maybe that’s another idea for an album. Maybe I’ll do some crooning, some Perry Como… there’s stuff to do.
Cryptic Rock – There is always plenty of material to cover. John Lennon even did a cover album, 1975’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Glenn Shorrock – That’s correct. I’ve done a couple of live shows, one was called The History of Rock-n-Roll Part 1, according to Glenn Shorrock. (Laughs) It was a two and a half hour show and we started with “Heartbreak Hotel” and moved on through. It was fun to do, I will do it again when I get the chance.
Cryptic Rock – That would be fun to see. You will be performing in your homeland of Australia in March, can we expect some North American dates?
Glenn Shorrock – If the Little River Band management and their agent get off my back and stop threatening legal action, then yes. I would love to get back into America and sing in front of the fans again, and say, “Hey, this is the way it used to sound.” So far I haven’t been able to get something happening. I may just stand up and say, “Here I am, this is what I do.”
The only thing I take umbrage with is Little River Band sometimes use our history and likeness with a photography of the old classic lineup, which I was one. That’s not kosher, but if they want to keep singing my material, that’s fine, everyone is entitled to make a living.
Cryptic Rock – Well, hopefully you will return to the USA sooner than later.
Glenn Shorrock – That would be good. I will keep chipping away at it. Who knows, maybe they will ask me to rejoin then. That’s a scenario, isn’t it?
Cryptic Rock – That would be fantastic if that happened. You also put out a book in June of 2018, Now Where Was I: Glenn Shorrock, the Autobiography. What was it like putting your career into words for a book?
Glenn Shorrock – That was a long process. People told me I should write it down, but my work ethic is not that great, I couldn’t face that blank page for quite a while. (Laughs) I attempted to start it over the last few years, and finally I made myself some space and churned it out. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed looking back at my past.
My memory has sometimes failed me. I remember asking my wife, “What did I do between 1993 and 1996.” (Laughs) That sort of loss of memory. I am pleased with the book, and it’s done a bit tongue in cheek.
It’s called Now Where Was I, because that is pretty indicative of my memory. My memory is pretty good about the really old stuff, but not very good short term memory. That’s a common complaint among people of my age.
Cryptic Rock – The book came out well. Now you have the new album and book, so there are a lot of good things happening.
Glenn Shorrock – Yea, and hopefully we’ll be able to package that – a copy of the book, the copy of the new album, and also the previous album I did a couple of years back called Rise Again. A little package might be an idea, and then down the line, take it a bit further, and really put an anthology out.
Cryptic Rock – That would be very cool. Last question for you, since we also cover movies, what are some of your favorites?
Glenn Shorrock – I would immediately put Stanley Kubrick’s films first. Also a lot of the old English ’60s Comedies that grew alongside Rock-n-Roll. I do watch a lot of movies and I am really looking forward to seeing the latest Laurel and Hardy story, Stan & Ollie. I thought A Star Is Born (2018) was really entertaining, it brought me to tears.
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