Article – Chappo Chats

by Penny Valentine [Sounds, 8/26/72]

I don’t think we’ve ever had a particular status. I think we’re a band a lot of people underestimate and in many ways I think we underestimate ourselves.”

Roger Chapman, five years with Family, reflecting on the state of the party. A subject that crops up as Chappo – far less twig-like than he’s looked in a long time – plays a couple of tracks from the new Family album “Bandstand” to be released next month. It’s an album that’s going to knock a lot of people sideways – to my mind the best they’ve ever laid down and showing a variety of styles and content that is sparkling.

Family are noted as excellent musicians with a flair for the unexpected, and yet a great amount of their success is still based very much on word of mouth. Then there’s this business of people’s attitudes to them. For some unknown reason this perfectly likeable set of people tend to bring many critics out in a positive blaze of vitriol – a year or so ago TV and radio producers were terrified of dealing with them.

“It’s really weird. We always think that we’re easy to get along with and yet there are people who are really frightened of us. And last time we were in the States people came along for interviews with this musguided notion we were a really very, very heavy band – kind of small Mafia-type collection. The only thing about Family is that we never seem to be greeted with a negative attitude. Either people really love everything we do or we get others who hate us. I mean it’s not that they just hate what we’re doing, the music – they want to see us die.” Chappo shrugs and smiles, “I don’t know – in a way that last kind of reaction does you a lot of good, spurs you on. You think `well, up you!’”

[Regarding Wetton’s departure:] “Well he was with the band for 12 months but I suppose because we didn’t do much work in that period it seems to most people that he’d hardly joined when he’d left. Line-up changes always bring me down for about four or five hours and then I forget it. We’ve learnt to shrug that thing off now and move on…”

Right now, says Chapman, the band are busy rehearsing with new man Jim Kriegan [sic] before a back-busting nine week tour in America. Kriegan was an old mate of Palmer from the Blossom Toes days: “a good bloke” says Chapman. “Into Guinness, too.”

[On his role in the band:] “To an audience I can see I could be a commercial proposition – someone to identify with because I’ve got an individual voice that makes people think ‘Ah, Family’. At one time people around the band were talking about doing something about that, pushing on in a commercial sense. And obviously it would have been easier to push one person in a band and get results. But I never think of myself as a singer topping a band, that’s not the way we work. I’m a part of a whole and I enjoy that. I’m not even that conscious of my voice – and there are still some people who think I put it on even now.”

“I could never have coped with the responsibility of being looked on as any kind of leader. I got really paranoid when people suggested pushing me. Anyway, to be honest I was really musically ignorant before I joined Family – any knowledge of music I’ve got came directly from the other people in the band.”

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