A long interview with Neil Young guitarist Poncho Sampedro

"Most people turn a corner, Neil ricochets," says the Crazy Horse guitarist

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The Hyde Park show was amazing…
Hyde Park was some of the early dates. I think we actually got a little better as we went on and Neil adjusted the set more. I never understood or realised how many changes that was going to make in the band, just not having Billy there. First of all, it took three people to fill in for him. And then we really never could rock like we did. Like when Billy’s there. It’s so easy to rock. That’s what we do. With this configuration, I don’t know, it was a little softer, the intensity was gone. That’s not taking away anything, we were a good band still. But we just weren’t Crazy Horse, or what everybody knows in Crazy Horse.

Both you and Ralph had worked with Rick before…
That’s what it was. It was someone that we were all familiar with and we could work with them. It’s funny, when I worked with him in the Blue Notes, right, and when Ralph worked with him in xxxx, we always through it would be fun to play, the four of us together, Ralph and I and Rick. But once we were together, even at the rehearsals in Iceland, we had like three days to rehearse, that was our first opportunity to really play together because all the equipment was already shipped. I remember walking in the dressing room, and Ralph’s was sitting with his head down and I said, “What’s up, Ralph?” He goes, “I miss Billy.” I went, “Well, I miss him, too!” It was funny, he said, “I just miss his face, I miss his intensity, I miss his expressions.” I said, “I miss the constant beat that we always have, too.” Rick plays too good; Rick knows a lot of notes, he can play all over the place and Billy, we just get in a groove and lock it down and hold it there. Nothing ever wavers. Nothing that Rick does is wrong, it’s just something we’re not used to.

What was Neil’s take on that?
I think we were suffering because it wasn’t Crazy Horse, Ralph and I. I think Neil went to the next level and was enjoying the fact that he had a new band with girls who could sing all the parts and a bass player that could play a lot of different stuff. That’s why the material was so different. He had freedom to do a lot of other things, we weren’t doing classic Crazy Horse hits on that tour.


What about “Hole In The Sky” and “Singer Without A Song”. I was half expecting a Crazy Horse album or a live record to come last year…
You know, I thought the same thing. I can’t remember who it was I talked to at Neil’s ranch, and I said, “You guys working on a live record?” he said, “No, we haven’t done anything live in a long time. We’re working on the Archives.” That kind of surprised me. When I was rehearsing before we went up there to rehearse in Oakland, I was doing my own rehearsals here at home to get my hands warmed up, I was rehearsing “Hole In The Sky” like crazy. I never thought we really got it right and I was dying for the opportunity to play it perfect with Neil, you know. Then we never played it again! I love that song! I got it down now!


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