Interviews

Interview with legendary bassist PETE WAY

ex-UFO, Fastway, and Ozzy Osbourne bassist discusses his latest solo album, "Walking On The Edge"

2019 sees Pete Way hitting the live circuit for the first time in several years due to being dogged with bad health. In the interim, he has had a critically acclaimed best selling autobiography “A Fast Ride Out of Here” as well as putting the finishing touches on his new solo album “Walking On The Edge” which has guest musicians including Slash on the Mike Clink (Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses) produced album. Having teamed up for live work with ex-Pat Travers, Wild Horses, and UFO drummer Clive Edwards, Tym Scopes on lead and slide guitars and ex Waysted multi-instrumentalist and rhythm guitarist Jason Poole. Pete will be bringing his solo work as well as Waysted and UFO hits to the stage as vocalist and bass player. He says, “I am just desperate to go back on the road. It’s the part of the business I love the most and I’ve been away too long”

In a career spanning more than five decades, rock musician, songwriter and producer Pete Way has established himself as a much-loved and highly regarded figure among rock fans, critics and fellow musicians alike. Best known for his work with UFO, Pete’s energetic live performances were at the heart of the band’s countless world tours, and his melodic bass lines underpinned the catalogue of enduring Rock classics upon which UFO’s reputation and legacy are founded. Indeed, in a recent radio interview, Pete attributed the band’s ability to weather changes in the musical landscape (UFO had a Top 30 album in the UK at the height of punk), and in the band’s line-up over the years, to the strength of their songs.

The briefest glance at the songwriting credits of any of the albums recorded during the band’s 70s/80s peak period, many of which attained high chart positions in both the UK and US charts, will show just how significant Pete’s contribution to the style and sound that appealed, and continues to appeal to generations of Rock fans around the world; fan favourites such as “Too Hot To Handle”, “Lights Out” and “Shoot Shoot” all bear the hallmarks of Pete’s signature songwriting style and are cornerstones of the band’s live set to this day. 

Pete’s post-UFO work has included stints with Fastway (alongside members of Motorhead and Humble Pie), Ozzy Osbourne, and his own long-running band Waysted, whose albums featured more songs in which Pete’s songwriting contributions were prominent. The Waysted back catalogue contains another brace of tracks (such as “Love Loaded” and “Heaven Tonight”) which have followed in the footsteps of Pete’s work with UFO in becoming fan favourites to this day.

The popularity and lasting appeal of so many songs co-written by Pete Way is still ongoing, in some cases 3 to 4 decades after their original release. Recent years have seen an extensive re-issue campaign via EMI, covering UFOs 70s and 80s albums, along with collections of vintage live and session performances from the band. In 2013 alone, two such collections have been released, again via EMI, in the shape of the “UFO at the BBC” box set and the “Hot ‘N’ Live – The Chrysalis Anthology 1974-1983” live album, and two classic Waysted albums from the 80s (“Vices” and “Save Your Prayers”) from the 80s have also been reissued, due to demand for these releases on CD.

Pete’s keen ear for song arrangement has also seen him serve as producer for popular Hard Rock acts such as Twisted Sister and the Cockney Rejects (whose Way-produced album “The Wild Ones” has just been reissued on CD). Pete’s ability in the production field was also developed while working with such respected producers as George Martin (famed for his work with The Beatles) and Ron Nevison (whose credits include Led Zeppelin, The Who, Meat Loaf and Heart) during his UFO days.

Pete is currently about to release his latest solo album, “Walking On The Edge”, which sees him adding to a peerless catalogue of classic Hard Rock songs, with fresh material bearing all the trademarks of the melodic, memorable style for which he is known.  


ANTIHERO: Yeah. I was going to ask… We chatted several years ago. I was asking about your health. Because, I think when we last talked, it was way back in 2014, you’ve had several major health scares/concerns.

Pete Way: Yeah. No, I had prostate cancer and I’ve had three minor heart attacks. But you know. Take life as it comes. We’ve been doing shows and they’ve been going great. Going to make the next step to bigger venues. Pretty much everywhere we play sells out. We needed to get our feet on the ground. Again, my health. Never too sure of it. The older you get; you never know what’s beyond that door.

ANTIHERO: Of course. Since we last talked you’ve had a couple of your former bandmates, Eddie Clarke and Paul Raymond, that have unfortunately passed.

Pete Way: Yeah. Oddly enough, despite what I used to use, I never smoked. I don’t think Paul Raymond smoked but Paul Raymond was older than me. But Eddie is a total shame. He, back in the day, smoked. Oddly enough, though, he got slow but the complications came from the fact that his lungs weren’t good. You know. It’s something that just reminds me all the time. And yet I’ve done just about, I wouldn’t say every drug in the world, but really pushed it to the limit. Thousands and thousands of drugs. In fact, my body so I can’t… They try and take a blood test off me and they can’t because they can’t get to my veins. I had veins removed just so that my system was working again, you know. Anyway, that’s the last of my medical history. Actually, the worst I can do is a couple of glasses of white wine.

ANTIHERO: Since we last talked, you’ve had a book published. I haven’t actually had the opportunity to read that yet.

Pete Way: The book, well, yeah. I mean, a lot of people love it. It’s a diluted version of being on the road in my life. Slash introduces it and my friend Steve Harris talks about his meetings with me. Apparently I was a big inspiration to Steve and that decides Steve’s motives.

ANTIHERO: How did you find the whole process of writing a book as opposed to writing music? I’m sure it must have been quite different for you.

Pete Way: I’m always writing music. I’ve got the music in my head all the time. The book was Paul Rees and the music company, book company offered me quite a lot of money in advance. It was easy because I was recovering from the heart thing, stuff like that. It helped me. I could write songs and I could talk to Paul. It’s pretty detailed, the book. It’s not exaggerated but I actually did dilute it, I have to tell you.

ANTIHERO: Just wondered if you had to slightly dilute it. Of course, most of your musical legacy was created with UFO. I just wondered how you felt, now that the band is wrapping up their final tour, about you not actually being involved or being a part of that. Given that you contributed so much over the years to that particular band.

Pete Way: Well Mark, to be honest with you, if you have my band, UFO, there’s no comparison. I’m not the same person that I was in UFO but my new band -well we’re fresh and exciting. Really, Regarding UFO… I saw Phil at the Sweden Rock Festival. We’ve been chatting away, you know, very good friends. I don’t know. I think Phil felt it played its course. It was a magical moment in a way because I could feel that he missed me and I actually missed Phil, but I don’t think we’ll ever work together again. If Phil wants to retire that’s up to him. I’ve wasted too many years not being able to play.

But I’ve got great musicians. I’m generally singing, I play bass on it but I’m using some of the songs that I had from, actually, about 10 years plus from the Amphetamine album and also the album I did with Michael Schenker, which is The Plot. And also do some UFO songs. And I do two of the songs from what will be the new album. One of them is “Narcotics”, which is kind of a bit of a laugh about going through rehab. Friends of yours trying to get you to… Bringing you drugs and drink as you…

Slash suits me, so he plays on it. He suits me. I love that bit about Peruvian cocaine. I’m not supposed to say that. Slash is supposed to be a saint.

ANTIHERO: Yeah. What about the current live dates that you’re doing? Are you singing on those or just playing bass?

Pete Way: No, I sing on them. I put them about to sing on. It was a dilemma really. I could play bass and sing but it actually turned out better. So, I could try and Mick Jagger for the day and leave the rest to the band. I have to tell you, the band, you know, the guitar players. Well, Clive Edwards on drums. Tremendous.

ANTIHERO: Regarding the collection of songs. When are we going to have a release date for this album? Seems like I have been reading about it for a long time now.

Pete Way: Million-dollar question. January’s the idea. It’s been six years. I blame everybody else except me. Apparently, I’m part to blame. I had a decision. I said, “Look I’m going to get a microphone and a guitar and I’m going into the studio and I’m going to do a tour.” And that was it. From there on we haven’t looked back. We’re just looking forward to the album coming out and also releasing the Amphetamine album as I speak. It came from America, but it’s never really promoted it here. The first time that anybody in England gets a chance to hear it live. I have to tell you; it goes down really well. Right along with the other tracks from my musical history.

ANTIHERO: So, the album itself. Where was it recorded? Was it recorded in a lot of different studios? On the road?

Pete Way: You mean the one, Walking on the Edge? Mainly in England. In Germany. Mike Clink, you know, he did Appetite for Destruction, he has stuff recorded in the States. We send things like my vocals, I’ve got two of my vocals to do, and send that by computer. You can do anything these days via computer.

ANTIHERO: You mentioned there that you had Slash on it. Also, I see Nikki Sixx playing on there too.

Pete Way: No, I was going to get Nikki to play but he didn’t want to play on Narcotics. He’s firmly against it. So, Slash said, “Oh yeah. I’ll do it.” No. Nikki would say, “Well, I’m going to go away and write the new Motley Crue album so I’m taking the Waysted album with me.”

ANTIHERO: So, just touching on another band from your past. Obviously, you want to focus on what you’re doing now. I’m just wondering how you feel about bands, generally, from the 80s and that era who are continuing to go and operate to release music. Sometimes I think, specifically, in the case of Fastway without or any of the original members. Fastway. I mean, obviously, yourself and Eddie…are not involved and that band is still around.

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Pete Way: Oh Fastway! I never actually played with Fastway, you see. Chrysalis Records put a court injunction on me, stopped me from signing with CBS. That’s why I had to do Waysted and how come I toured with Ozzy. Ozzy said to me, “Oh, I was doing nothing,” and I was his drinking partner. We went out. I did Bark at the Moon dates in England and after that, I started rehearsing with Wasted. Also, at the same time, I produced Twisted Sister’s first album. I like to keep busy at the right time.

ANTIHERO: Yeah. Health permitting, of course. Who would have been the most influential musician that you’ve worked with? Who have you learned the most from?

Pete Way: Musician would be Michael Schenker.

ANTIHERO: What, then, in your life would you be most proud of?

Pete Way: That’s a difficult one. I mean, selling out big places in America is one thing but selling out the Hammersmith Odeon the first time. I mean, we were playing the Roundhouse in Camden Town and then we sold out the Hammersmith Odeon. Being from London, that was important. Bear in mind that we spent most of that time in America.

ANTIHERO: How do you view your own musical legacy? What you’ve created, it’s a phenomenal body of work over the years. Well, it’s Waysted, UFO, or even the albums that you produced. How do you look back on that?

Pete Way: Well, I just love to play rock music, you know. I’m old now. I pretend I’m not old but you look back and you go, you can’t, sort of not count the years. I don’t know. I’ve had a unique opportunity to play with some very good people. I don’t know. Like you asked me about influential. That’s Michael Schenker but there’s a list of people that I couldn’t have done what I did without them.

ANTIHERO: Any particular album that’s you’ve recorded that stand out for you? And stand up, even today?

Pete Way: Well, probably Strangers in the Night because it was, you know. That was a summary of many years on the road, many albums and it was very successful. And it proved how good we were live.

ANTIHERO: Do you still have career goals, hopes, and ambitions? Still have dreams?

Pete Way: I wouldn’t make this the Pete Way Band. I couldn’t do it without the musicians with me. To take it to the top. It’s what you always do. What’s the point? We’re not a pop band, that’s for sure. I tell them we’re an arena band except we have to play smaller places (laughs).

ANTIHERO: At the moment, yeah. Once the album’s released, then, obviously you want to go out and maybe tour more. I notice at the moment you’re doing selected dates. Will you be doing longer tours next time?

Pete Way: Part of the reason for that, Mark, is I’ve got two vocals to finish for the Walking on the Edge album. And so we’re taking some time. We’ve got some more selected gigs coming up. Then, January we’re finishing off the English states, escrow states probably by the end of January and then we’re looking toward America, Japan, the usual places. By then we’ll be so sullied that we can take on the best.

ANTIHERO: Just a final one then. If the roles were reversed and you would sit down and you could interview somebody, who would you like to interview? If you could pick somebody and you could ask them questions, who would you pick to sit down and interview?

Pete Way: Good point, actually. I would probably pick Mick Jagger.

ANTIHERO: He’s somebody that’s inspired you over the years?

Pete Way: Or Elvis Presley.

ANTIHERO: That’s great. Thank you very much.

Pete Way: Mark, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much for doing the interview.

ANTIHERO: I’m glad we finally got to do it Pete and hopefully I’ll get to see you out with the band soon.

Pete Way: Where are you based?

ANTIHERO: I’m actually based these days in Manchester.

Pete Way: Oh yeah! We’re in Manchester. I think that’s another one we want to do before we leave England. With UFO, we played everywhere but when we went to America, it’s a long, long tour that you do. To start off from opening to headlining. We took that challenge and we won it. We wanted all the main cities because I’ve got great memories of them from tours.

ANTIHERO: Okay Pete. Thank you very much again. Thank you.

Pete Way: My pleasure, Mark. My pleasure. And look forward to meeting you.

ANTIHERO: Cheers.

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Mark Dean

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time.

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