by Ross CAT

by Ross CAT

Feature Interview: TONY LEWIS Vocalist/Bassist

     DIAMOND DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN…Spring has finally sprung with that comes the smell of promise in the air and the reminiscent sounds of summer.  Ballparks across the Country will once again come alive this week as America’s favorite pastime takes center stage.
     Throw in a piece of Mom’s apple pie along with a brand new record form eighties hit makers THE OUTFIELD and you’ve got yourself a summer’s day triple play.  The Power Pop trio from London’s East End affectionately known as the Boys of Summer are currently in the 7th inning stretch of recording their seventh studio album; which for the first time since the "Voices of Babylon release in 1989 will include the original line-up as Drummer ALAN JACKMAN rejoins Guitarist/Keyboardist JOHN SPINKS & TONY LEWIS.
    This year also marks the twenty-fifth Anniversary of the “
Play Deep” album, which saw the band knock it out of the park with their triple platinum vinyl debut with the monster hits “Your Love & “Say It Isn’t So”.
     With the New Year in full swing all is good in
THE OUTFIELD clubhouse with a healthy original lineup in tact the band is ready to step up to the plate with a brand new disc.
Rock Rapport was fortunate enough to catch THE OUTFIELD’S celestial voice TONY LEWIS in between recording sessions from the
U.K. to discuss the excitement surrounding the new disc & the band’s chart topping debut album.


Ross CAT - Hello TONY it’s great to speak to you.  Thanks so much for taking time out for the Rock Rapport; I know the band is busy putting the finishing touches on the new record.

TONY LEWIS - Same to you Ross thanks for asking us.

Ross CAT - Seems we’ve caught up with you at a great time as THE OUTFIELD is in the midst of creating some highly anticipated new music while celebrating the glory days of the “Play Deep” album all at once.

TONY LEWIS - Well we certainly hope it’s going to be as great a record; as you already mentioned we are extremely pleased to have ALAN JACKMAN back playing with us once again on drums.  ALAN is actually in the studio as we speak laying down the drum tracks.
     It’s really a great vibe being back in the studio with both JOHN & ALAN; we really hope to capture the spirit of the bands beginnings with these new songs.

Ross CAT - The Bands career is unique in the sense that your popularity in the States surpassed that of your homeland. Bands throughout history have coveted that type of success without coming close; to what do you attribute the bands tremendous success here in America?

TONY LEWIS - A radio DJ named Steve Barnes once described our music as being “Evergreen”; I suppose growing up and being influenced by bands like the BEATLES & ZEPPELIN had something to do with it.  Their formula of strong lyrics & powerful melodies never die, so that’s what we set out to achieve.
     For whatever reason we were blessed with that musical gift; it was never a preconceived plan to make songs that would stand the test of time; we were just writing songs from an organic place with the innocence of our youth & passion driving us.

Ross CAT - This year is shaping up to be a special one for THE OUTFIELD with original Drummer ALAN JACKMAN returning to the line-up & most importantly the return to good health of Guitarist/Vocalist and principal songwriter JOHN SPINKS.
     I did want to mention I’ve received several inquiries stateside in recent years in regards to
THE OUTFIELD; many fans were unaware that the band was on hiatus while JOHN was battling cancer.
THE OUTFEILD is most recognizable by your ethereal voice; what is all too often overlooked is the amazing Guitar work SPINKS lays down coupled with the melodic harmonies he brings to the songs.

TONY LEWIS - I couldn’t agree with you more, JOHN’S contributions to THE OUTFIELD are immeasurable.
     It really was a difficult time as JOHN isn’t just a band mate he is a truly a friend in every sense; it was quite a long convalescence for JOHN, thankfully he’s back to one hundred percent and has been given a clean bill of health.
     He seems to have brought the same determination he used to win his battle over his illness into the studio. Even before JOHN was ill he was a very strong motivator within the group, the driving force so to speak.

Ross CAT -  It must be thrilling to be celebrating the twenty-fifth Anniversary of “Play Deep” while in the process of creating brand new material with JOHN & ALAN at the same time?

TONY LEWIS - It really is quite an exciting time for us to have all this positive energy surrounding us once again.  The patience & support of our fans really keeps us focused while we attempt to create music that we feel is a worthy representation of what this band stands for.

Ross CAT - Do you feel JOHN’S battle with cancer may have inspired this reunion of the original band members?

TONY LEWIS - I really don’t think it was JOHN’S illness that lead us here; obviously he sees life through different eyes after that humbling experience.
     It was after a reunion tour back in 2000 that we just kind of looked at what’s happening in the music scene from bands from our era.  There are very few bands out touring right now with their original line-ups in tact for whatever reasons.
     The thought process was since we are all still here & close friends if this is going to be our last record we can at least give to the fans through the same organic process that gave us “Play Deep” new songs we can be proud of.

Ross CAT - What has the vibe been like in the studio for the band in recent months, do you feel like a Bar Band just starting out again in the London Pubs?

TONY LEWIS - Yeah if anything it’s even better then the old days it’s nice to have the Boys Club feeling when walking into the studio; the outside pressures are off so we are just making music for the love of it.
     Back then it was Record Companies, Producers & Agents all trying to dictate how you should present your music. At this stage of our careers we feel very fortunate to have the luxury of making an album at our own pace which is very relaxing during the creative process.

Ross CAT - The band has posted a couple teaser tracks “Watchin’ You” a free download you offered on the website this past Christmas, the other potent rocker is called “Baby I’m Crazy” which is in fact quite Zeppelinesque.
     You weren’t by chance a part of the secret LED ZEPPELIN auditions held by PAGE & JONESY last year were you? (Laughter)

TONY LEWIS - (Laughter) No that’s news to me; JOHN & I have always been huge LED ZEPPELIN fans; we had a song called “Main Attraction” off the “Bangin” record which we sort of tried to recreate their energy.
     “Baby I’m Crazy” was more or less for fun JOHN had this melody so we thought why not give it a go; it’s not that we set out to make a LED ZEP type of song it just evolved.
     The other track you referred to “Watching You” is a totally different song altogether, it’s more of a ballad with JOHN playing piano while I sing.  It’s strange because the songs were written in different time periods, when listening to it you might even think it’s an entirely different band.
     Those songs are at the opposite end of the spectrum musically, it’s a reflection of the versatility of this band.  Having been influenced by a band like the BEATLES taught us that you don’t have to limit yourself to any certain musical style.

Ross CAT - Will the kick-ass track “Baby I’m Crazy”, which can be heard on the bands website be included on the upcoming new release?

TONY LEWIS - At this point I would have to say yes we’ve really gotten some amazing feedback on it so far.  We were a little concerned with the fact that it does have a LED ZEP vibe but make no mistake this will be an OUTFIELD record.  When we were recording it we knew it had a place on the album because it translates so well live.
     The Love songs are nice but its really a great feeling to open it up on stage, I think this is one of those songs that will allow us to do just that when we take to the road.

Ross CAT - As a Vocalist you have one of the highest Rock Registers in the business right up there with Steve Perry of JOURNEY & the late great Brad Delp of BOSTON.
     It really struck me upon listening to the new tracks on the web site you haven’t lost a single octave after twenty-five years, how do you manage to sustain such a powerful voice?

TONY LEWIS - I’m not quite sure, I do keep myself fairly fit which I'm certain helps.  I do feel very lucky to still be able to perform the early songs at a high level while still creating & singing the new material.
     The road does take its toll on a singer but for me the adrenaline rush is what gets me through each show; sharing these great songs with the wonderful people who attend our shows cures what might be ailing me on any given night.

Ross CAT - Back to the new record do you have a working title for the album as of yet?

TONY LEWIS - Funny you should ask, we keep coming up with titles & then keep changing our minds.  It’s almost as difficult as coming up with a name for your first born. (Laughter)
     The title seems to be the hardest thing to come up with some days; it’s more daunting of a task then coming up with lyrics for some of the songs on the album.

Ross CAT-Another one of the tracks that will make its way into the starting lineup on the new disc is called “California Sun”; you’ve mentioned that you really enjoy performing that song, tell us about that particular track?

TONY LEWIS - It just has this freshness about it both musically & lyrically when I’m playing it I can close my eyes and envision the sun breaking through.
     I really hope that translates the same way to everyone that listens to it.  That style of song epitomizes what this band is all about, as you mentioned we’ve been referred to as the “Boys of Summer” because of the obvious baseball theme and the fact that we usually tend to tour in the summer months; “California Sun” most certainly has THE OUTFIELD feel to it.

Ross CAT - Any chance the title will have another baseball theme to it?

TONY LEWIS - Possibly, I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be “Play Deep 2”. (Laughter)
     Any band that enjoys the success we did on a first record and thinks they can reproduce that again would be lying.  To recapture that same energy & attitude would be virtually impossible.  That record is what made us, that’s why songs like “Your Love” & “All the Love in the World” still get played on the radio today.
     It was a moment in time in our lives that we fortunately captured through the music we made together.
     We were different people back then that’s what makes those songs so special to us; it’s an unbreakable bond we have with the people who still enjoy hearing them today.

Ross CAT - Now that we have fans tantalized about a few of the new tracks any idea as to when the record will be ready for release and will a tour ensue?

TONY LEWIS - Nothing is really set in stone as of yet we constantly have offers coming in to tour but right now the focus is on finishing the record.
     I will say that every single song has a great vibe and has been exciting to work on in the studio; I can’t imagine we wouldn’t want share that with fans in a live setting after the album is released.

Ross CAT - For obvious reasons the band has many ties to the baseball community with players like Chicago White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham using the song “Your Love” as his At-Bat introduction.
     Does the band have a particular team they follow?

TONY LEWIS - We’ve been fortunate enough to attend quite a few baseball games but we don’t really have a favorite team.  We love the occasion itself, the Hot Dogs & Beer and the family atmosphere its almost like attending Rock Show as opposed to a sporting event.

Ross CAT - Nicely done a very diplomatic answer.
     Before I let you go let’s touch on the mega success of the song “Your Love”, it still resonates over the radio airwaves not to mention several Motion Picture Soundtracks & Video Games.
     It’s also crossed over to a newer generation of fans since its been covered by Katy Perry & WyClef Jean to name just a few; did the three of you have any inclination that you had something special with that song back in 1985?

     TONY LEWIS - Honestly Ross it was one of those songs that made the hairs on the back on your neck stand up when we would listen to it; but we never had any idea that it would become so big & enjoy the long term success that it has. 

     Strangely enough it’s the only song on the album that doesn’t have a chorus but that hook “Josie’s on a Vacation Far Away” is instantly recognizable.
     Ironically “Your Love” was released to keep the record on the radio in January when we were off the road; “Say It Isn’t So” was actually the first single released off the “Play Deep” album.
     It is very exciting that the song has been rediscovered by a whole new generation; If I’m not mistaken “Your Love” has 7 million hits on You Tube, that’s really a great feeling that people continue to find pleasure in the song.

THE OUTFIELD has all their viral bases covered you can follow them on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter & MySpace.  You can also keep score with statistics on the upcoming new release @
Rock Rapport would like to Thank TONY LEWIS for taking time to chat with us, a special thanks to Brent Bitner for hooking us up.

*******************PEACE & HARMONIES******************

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