THE YARDBIRDS - Taking Flight
by Martin Popoff
British fuzz rock icons THE YARDBIRDS have taken on a new guitarist in 21-year-old Ben King, who is currently logging his first North American tour with the band. The jaunt follows on previous worldwide dates in support of 2003's Birdland album (featuring guest stars like Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, Jeff Beck, Slash, and head of the band's label, Steve Vai) as well as the fetching reissue of the band's classic Little Games album.
"In about 31 years, we're going to do another one," jokes founder and rhythm guitarist Chris Dreja, with respect to the prospect of the next studio album. "You know, don't... let's take it easy (laughs)."
OK then, is it simply more touring we're looking at?
"It's quite ironic, because, when we decided to do some live shows back in the late '90s, it was only Jim (McCarty - drums) and I. We did the Box Of Frogs thing (two albums in the '80s) and we all had kind of different careers. And we were asked if we could do a few shows, and Jim and I said, 'I suppose if we could get the right musicians together, we'll play a couple.' And that kind of just snowballed, and we are now a pretty busy band at times. So yeah, more live shows. I think we're more interested really in trying to do a DVD, which would incorporate more music, but also some sort of really interesting documentation on this band. Because over the years, it has had a lot of interesting people through it. I mean, this is one of the British invasion bands that kind of did a lot of things that there was no road map for. So I think if we can get it together, that's very much what I think the band would like to do."
"Unfortunately in many ways, with so many people who have passed through this band, they are very busy people and whatever, and it has been difficult trying to tape it down," adds Chris, making note of the difficulty that might ensue getting, say, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck to block off time for the project! "But we feel that we don't want to just do a DVD of a performance and put it out. There's too much history to cover. So we want to incorporate something that is a little more documentary-style, as well as live performance."
I asked Chris if there was any sort of unauthorized competitive product out there in terms of a DVD. "Not that I know of. I know there is a video we did back in '92, that was sort of in conjunction with the Americans inducting the band into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, and that is still out there, I think on Warner Brothers. But it's not really a live performance DVD. It's quite interesting, but I don't think it's the ultimate product that we would like to do."
See www.theyardbirds.com for more. And do yourself a favour and check out the top-notch current lineup live - it's a rockin', hard 'n' bluesy, psychedelic, rave-up the likes of which is disappearing fast off the rock 'n' roll radar screen.