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Pete Townshend says The Who are “not a band”: “It’s a group of musicians that Roger has chosen”

“Although I said I wouldn’t pick this current band, they’re still great musicians. It just feels easy and safe.”

Pete Townshend on stage. He is playing a golden Strat guitar and appears to be grandly strumming a chord.

Image: Jo Hale / Getty

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Pete Townshend has been discussing the future of The Who and its current lineup, sharing that he feels they are “not a band” but rather a “brand and a friendship” these days.

What lies ahead for The Who has been a rather uncertain picture for sometime now – Roger Daltrey had previously said he was happy to lay the band to rest, but now it seems Townshend feels they’re not quite there yet.

Speaking to Mojo for its latest print edition, Townshend says of the current Who lineup, “It’s a group of musicians that Roger has chosen. I have not chosen any of the musicians I tour with – not even [drummer] Zak [Starkey]. When Roger brings me on-stage I am filling the shoes of a guy called Frank Simes, who Roger tours with solo, and who is a guitar player and musical director.”

However, the idea of pulling together a band that he would like to work with “scares the shit” out of him, he says. When asked hypothetically what this lineup would be, Townshend replies: “I’d get Simon Phillips on drums and Pino Palladino on bass, and I’d dig ‘Rabbit’ out of his bed, and I’d get some fabulous shredding guitar player… But the trouble is, they’d all be far, far superior musicians to me.

“Look, although I said I wouldn’t pick this current band, they’re still great musicians. It just feels easy and safe. But there are still places in the show where I can express myself. I’m no Joe Satriani, but I’m playing pretty well, and Roger is singing great. His voice went for a few years, but he fought to get it back,” he states.

On that note, Townshend later adds that he thinks The Who aren’t over yet: “The Who are a brand and a friendship, but it’s not a band. It’s not a hard-working, complicated, growing and evolving fucking jazz group. We’re not challenging each other to work musical miracles, but we’re playing music we know so well. So never say never.”

It’s hard to know exactly where the Who stand these days; back in March, Townshend suggested the band might undertake a farewell tour, but then later said such a trek is unlikely, saying he was being “sarcastic” previously.

Find out more about The Who.

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