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Bob Seger Details New Album Schedule, 2012 Tour Plans and His Songwriting Methods

Bob Seger
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Bob Seger has announced plans to release a new studio album, and to support that record with a tour. “I will write from January 1 through March 31. I will finish the next record and right now, yes, I will tour with the next record,” Seger tells Ultimate Classic Rock.

Seger, who has sold more than 50 million albums, with 11 platinum and seven multi-platinum titles, also revealed what convinced him to release a studio album for the first time since ‘Face the Promise’ in 1996.

“It just comes and goes. I think I picked [the writing bug] up about a year and a half ago and started writing songs again slowly and surely. Then I said I ‘Yeah, I want to do one more.’ I have written a couple of songs that I really, really, really, really like and that was kind of the driving thing. I want people to hear them!”

Just before starting the next leg of his tour behind his Nov. 21 release ‘Ultimate Hits: Rock And Roll Never Forgets,’ Seger gave a wide-ranging press conference where he answered a host of questions about his music, his friends, and what the future holds for him musically. Here are some of the high points:

Tell us about some of the new songs you’ve written for the upcoming album.

One is called ‘Ride Out.’ It covers an awful lot of territory. It might be the cover song, it covers so many [topics you almost] have to hear it. There are an awful lot of lyrics pinched into a small area. Line to line it goes into different subjects and I really like it. I am trying to write stuff that is different. I am a big science fan. I read a lot of science and ‘Wonderland’ has a lot of science in it. I don’t know. They are hard to describe….We are living in a wonderland age of science. I just read in the December [issue of] ‘Astronomy’ that water might be flowing in Mars….It’s a wonderland we are living in right now.

How has your songwriting evolved over the years?

Well, I still do it the same way. I  occasionally come up with a title I really like but more likely I write more…[by playing] and then singing something, a line or a verse, a line of a B section, a line of a chorus. The line that I end up singing is related to the music that I’m playing, if that makes any sense, and I go from there and try to figure out where I’m going with it. I will do about 40 minutes in a row and then take a half hour off and then do 40 minutes and then take a half hour off, and then do 40 minutes and then take an hour break and then go back and sing what I did. I mumble stuff and then occasionally sing a line. 99 times out of 100, [that's what I do].

When you wrote ‘Turn the Page’ did you have any idea it would become an anthem for every other road warrior out there?

No, I didn’t. I thought it was a little folk song that was kind of personal.

When you sing [your classic] songs do you still connect with the emotions that originally inspired those songs or are there new emotions?

I still connect with original emotions. ‘Night Moves’ was written about 1961 or 1962 when I was in high school and it was about what my friends and I did in that period.

Is there a reason you always seem to tour this time of the year?

It’s a very simple answer. I can only get my drummer [Don Brewer] in the winter. He plays with Grand Funk [Railroad] in the summer. This is his sixth tour with us.

Many rockers say that as they age it’s physically difficult to sing their classic songs. Do you feel that way?

Well ‘Turn the Page’ I sing in the same key. Of course, a lot of them I did in the ’70s and I sang a lot higher so I can’t sing them that way. I will take half a step [or a step] down.

Is there a rumor that you want to set the record straight about?

The most famous rumor for me is that I had throat cancer. I never had throat cancer…I don’t know why that started…The way I sing, probably.

There’s been a buzz that you will collaborate on a musical project with Kid Rock. Is that true?

I haven’t talked to him [about that] yet. When I talk to him I will see. I don’t know.

After all these years of touring, is there a song that you still look forward to performing night after night?

I think Don Brewer would agree with me that our favorite is ‘Hollywood Nights.’ It’s just a train and we look forward to that every night.

You’re on tour right now and you mentioned you’ve been on tour [about] 50 years total. What satisfaction do you get out of it now?

I really enjoy being with the people I play with. I enjoy their company. I love the crew, the band, we just move through the country like an army. I always feel very grateful to be up there. There aren’t any bad nights anymore unless I’m singing bad but then the band will carry me. And if they’re playing bad I will carry them. It’s all a team effort.

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