Author: Nui Te Koha
Publication: Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia)
Date: August 20, 2005
Abstract: The Eagles talk about such topics as the "circle of fear" and the progress of the new album. Glenn states that he hopes the success of No More Cloudy days will get the other guys more excited about singing and recording.
THE Eagles have a pre-show ritual called the Circle of Fear.
It is a backstage setting where they face off, vocally, in final preparation for a night's performance.
"You don't want to enter that circle unless you know your part," Eagles' singer-guitarist Glenn Frey says.
"That is where we work everything out. We make sure everybody is singing right, going with the same dynamics, knowing where to cut off.
"If we don't do it, the show starts to get sloppy. And the vocals are the first thing everybody is listening out for."
Frey knows, too, the circle is a symbol -- beyond the band's legendary status, sales figures and reported $1.5 million performance fee a show -- of the Eagles' true core: timeless songs and pitch-perfect voices.
"It takes it back to basics, to a living-room environment of a circle of chairs, a couple of acoustic guitars and a shaker or tapping feet keeping time," Frey says.
"And you sing the songs. It all comes back to the songs. We may call it the Circle of Fear, but, like everything with us, it's vaguely tongue-in-cheek."
Yet, Frey cannot summon his usual one-liners when confronting the prospect of a new studio album.
The Eagles have broken concert attendance records worldwide performing, on and off, since New Year's Eve, 2000. Those numbers, including 60,379 packed into Rod Laver Arena across five nights last November, tell Frey fans want new Eagles material.
But the supergroup that tweaks its strengths in that circle has a scarier obstacle blocking any desire to record new music: time.
"A new album: that's the big question," Frey says. "That, really, is the only thing that, for us, is undone. We've played everywhere now. Our touring cycle has been pretty much a five-year run."
The Eagles will tour California in November, symbolically closing their career where it began.
"If it had to end in California , where it all started, it certainly wouldn't be an unhappy ending," Frey says.
Since 2000, the Eagles have planned their tours in blocks at the start of each year, usually a series of eight to 10-week runs, with extended breaks between, for different territories.
Unfortunately, for fans wanting new music, the Eagles take their downtime seriously. Frey, singer-drummer Don Henley, guitarist Joe Walsh and bassist Timothy B. Schmit, are committed to full and happy domestic lives offstage.
"We are all family men and we all live in different places," Frey says.
"Our biggest problem is we can't seem to make allowances, to compartmentalise and give ourselves enough time to do the music.
"You can't just go into the studio for a week," Frey says.
"You need to go in for periods of time, it's also important to do it continually and develop a rhythm. I need two weeks to write and I need to do it every day.
"Only then are my mental muscles limbered up and the muse gets the word: 'Songs are being written. Do you want to drop in over here'?"
Tensions, too, are factored into the touring equation and how long the Eagles can be on the road before personality clashes set in.
"Each of us, individually, is a strong personality," Joe Walsh says. "Sometimes, there is no easy way to get all of us shaking our heads in agreement. The strength of the band and the outcome of the music is that tension. You can hear that tension in the music, but we've always tried to make that a positive rather than destructive.
"And it keeps us guessing. At some point," Walsh says, "you have to give in individually to reach a consensus."
LATE last year, while in Melbourne , Henley told the Herald Sun a new Eagles album was in the works.
"We have an eye toward the future. We are working on new material all the time," Henley says. "We all miss songs with content.
"Nobody is saying anything that matters. Music should have a place in the social consciousness and social fabric of this country. It shouldn't just be for frivolous entertainment or background noise.
"The vocabulary should be part of the ongoing discussion regarding our state of affairs. But you have to strike a balance. We can't just make an album of political songs. You need songs about boys and girls. People want love songs, too. They don't want to be preached to."
Eagles' manager Irving Azoff shares Henley 's optimism.
"I've encouraged them to do, and trust, the musical direction they know," he says. "See who is at your concerts. Make and finish an album for that audience. Do it for them, not radio programmers."
Yet, since reforming five years ago for their Farewell 1 tour, they have unveiled only three new songs. Hole in the World, a Henley-Frey co-write is a post-9/11 lament, One Day at a Time a Walsh sobriety lesson and Frey's No More Cloudy Days ticks every box on the Eagles checklist: melody, harmony, hope. In the US , No More Cloudy Days has become an unexpected radio hit.
"That song gives me an indication I'm on track," Frey says. "Hopefully, it will give the other guys an indication. Maybe they'll get excited about writing and recording."