Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

July 8, 2013

In town Tuesday at Artpark, Doobie Brothers taking a step back in style these days


Niagara Gazette — “Basically, we are a two-era band, the era before Michael and the era after, and right now we are back to the style of the first era.”

Through it all there was one constant that was vital to the band’s success — their association with one of rock music’s greatest producers of all time, Ted Templeman.

“We did a lot of work with him that’s for sure. There were only three albums we didn’t do with Ted. He is a really fun guy to work with, and he has some great ideas musically. For instance I was reticent to record ‘Long Train Running’ because I thought it was just a jam track.”

Templeman’s presence is felt on the band’s last album, “World Gone Crazy,” released in 2010, it is a personal favorite of mine.

After years of personnel changes, the band’s current eight members represent the sound of The Doobies well.

“I would say the band sounds better now than it ever has and I’m not just saying that to beat my chest. It’s in part due to the personnel, but it’s also because people are taking their job more seriously. In the old days nobody practiced, we just went out and played. It’s not because we didn’t care, we were just so tired from being on the road that the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was practice guitar or do vocal exercises.”

That makes for a better show according to Johnston.

“It’s made a huge difference, and because we are a little more sedate in our partying, the show is really tight and rehearsed. It’s not predictable, it’s a high-energy show.

As for the band’s future, Johnston said that he recently found out that many modern country stars cite The Doobie Brothers as a major influence, and thus the band is going into the studio to rework their classic songs in a special way.

“We’re working on an album of our old songs with country music stars as guests. The list is too big to mention them all but of you are into country music you will know them all.”

Tickets for The Doobie Brothers at Artpark are $15 and available at Artpark’s box office or online. VIP tickets are sold out.

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for the Gazette.

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