We’ll never know if the country rock Canadian band Brave Belt would have ever made it big. Because once guitarist/song writer Randy Bachman asked fellow Winnipeg bassist/singer Fred Turner to join that group, it evolved into Bachman-Turner Overdrive and thirty million album sales later with songs like “Takin’ Care of Business,” and “Let it Ride” it’s safe to say that Fred Turner’s influence was a good one. Although Turner retired in 2004, Randy Bachman convinced Turner to give it another go and the result was Bachman & Turner, who released an album of new material in 2010 and who have been on tour ever since. On the cusp of the beginning of Bachman & Turner’s 2012 tour at The Good Life Festival at Encanterra in San Tan Valley, Arizona on March 31, 2012, Fred Turner was kind enough to spend some time and share his thoughts.
Q: This being the end of the winter season, I think when you play Arizona this Saturday, you may have more Canadians in the audience than Arizonians.
FT: I know some of my buddies are gonna show up. We’re just getting started now for the year. We’ll do six shows maybe a month up until October, November. So we just keep going.
Q: What was it like, you being retired after several years and then getting back into it?
FT: Almost like a rebirth. I had retired for six years and it was as if every year I’d slow down a little bit. Then Randy came to me and said “you know I don’t understand this. People retire when they don’t like what they’re doing. What’s your reason?” And I didn’t have an answer for him. So he said “consider coming back to this. I got a few songs and if you got a few things you’ve been working on, go into the studio and give it another shot.” So I did that and it got the blood flowing again. The thing that really did do it for me was when Randy said we were going to do another cd. That really pulled me.
Q: I understand that when you did the new album it was almost done by email.
FT: In a lot of respects it was. A lot of stuff was sent from studio to studio over the internet so that they could load it down. I did a lot of things in Winnipeg, Randy did a lot of things in his studio and I did a few things out of Florida as well. It did come from a lot of different directions. But funny enough, it still came out.
Q: Did it feel strange recording in that manner?
FT: Not at all, not at all. I’ve been working down in my basement for years with digital format and stuff like that and so it was basically come out of the basement and into the studio.
Q: When you’re playing on this tour, will we be hearing anything off the new album?
FT: Oh yeah. We’ll do a few tunes. But we find that people want their memories. They want to go back and grab what they had. We’re very strong about playing most of the old stuff that we can.
Q: It seems that you can never escape Randy. He’s been a part of your life ever since you started your career.
FT: My first memory of Randy is probably when I was 15 or 16 years old riding the buses in our hometown either going out to a jam or to lunch at one of the downtown restaurants where all the musicians gathered. So it’s been fifty some years for Randy and I.
Q: My goodness, you’ve lasted longer than most marriages.
FT: (Laughing) Well, we didn’t last that long. There’s been a few splits along the way. We always manage to get back together and we’re always glad when we do.
Q: Is he stalking you? He always seems to pull you back again.
FT: (Laughing). He just ends up where I am every once in a while or I end up where he is. Or things happen. For instance, what brought us back this time was basically families getting older and parents passing away and things like that and just contacting each other and saying “I’m really sorry to hear about this, sorry I’m not around but hope you’re all right,” and then it just goes from there.
Q: That’s nice that you’ve been able to maintain the friendship.
FT: The thing is between Randy and I, there’s always been a friendship and the friendship has never been part of the business. Business is business and friendship is friendship and we try as hard as we can to keep that. We’ve been around a long time and we’ve both paid our dues and we both have an idea what it is when you deal with friends.
Q: Are you guys thinking of doing another album?
FT: We’re sure hoping to. I’ve been writing. We take off three or four months in the winter to run away and just kind of rejuvenate and I’ve been sitting here in Florida writing some songs, just practicing and trying to get everything back into perspective again. So hopefully we’re going to get back together and do another album.
Q: Nice. How’s your voice holding up?
FT: I’ll tell you after Phoenix.
Q: I suppose it’s like spring training. You don’t really know what it’s like until the real games start.
FT: I don’t sing that way at home.
Q: Well, that makes sense, you’d blow the roof off.
FT: Yeah. I’m a totally different singer when I’m not on stage. When I’m on stage and I have to propel that thing, I find out what’s there and what isn’t. There is one note in “Let It Ride” that is a real humdinger to try and hit. I’ve been really fortunate that my voice is as strong as ever. I’ve been really fortunate that it has stuck around. I hope that it sticks around for a long time. I take a look at guys like BB King and Chuck Berry and a few of those guys and they’re way on up there and they’re still doing it and I’d sure like to be doing that too.
Q: Even in your reunion, Randy’s name always gets to be on top. Is there any reason for that?
FT: It’s funny you mention that because being in St. Petersburg, you know Tampa Bay is right across the water and their baseball hats are “TB.” So I told Randy that I had this hat made with “TB” because I wanted top billing. And he said to me “did you really get that hat made?” I had to tell him that it was Tampa Bay. But I had him going there for a while. I actually like the sound of Bachman Turner. It kind of comes out of your mouth easier than Turner Bachman.
Q: Maybe that’s because we’re used to saying it after 40 years.
FT: Well it is alphabetically correct.