LAURIE MANSWORTH (AIRRACE)
Musician And Manager
In the early eighties he was the guitarist of MORE, a British rock band that was part of the NWOBHM movement and released a classic debut ‘Warhead’ in 1981, shared the stage with the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon and many more. He left the band to form the more melodic/AOR band Airrace in 1982 with whom he toured with Queen after the debut album ‘Shaft Of Light’. He manages The Treatment, the high energy rock ‘n’ roll band which also features his son Dhani on drums. As if this wasn’t enough he found the time to reform Airrace and make a new album with them that made quite an impression; ‘Untold Stories’. More than enough reasons to contact the musical mastermind, producer, song writer and successful manager Laurie Mansworth who is over the moon with the response to the Airrace record.
Laurie Mansworth Photo – R.J.Gershinson
What made you decide to make another Airrace album?
,,We started in 1982 but we’d only ever done 2 albums. I had some songs and really liked to make another album. The problem was that Keith [Murrell], the original singer decided to semi-retire and wasn’t into going out and playing live shows. To me it is pointless to do another record and don’t tour it. Strangely enough, Adam [Payne], the new singer, sent me a little clip of him randomly on a message saying: ‘if you ever got any project please consider me as a singer’. He came down for some auditions and we did a few of the original Airrace songs and he sounded so fitting to the band sound I was convinced. I don’t think I would have done it if I hadn’t had the idea that I could make a good record but the factors were there.’’
The album is called ‘Untold Stories’ but could have been called ‘Unfinished Business’ as well?
,,It could well have done yeah. It was very much that kind of record. You never know, and I might do another album, but if this was the defining album I wouldn’t be unhappy if this one is being the one.‘’
Airrace debuted in 1984 with ‘Shaft Of Light’ and became pretty successful, still the band crash landed in 1985. Why?
,,Couple of reasons. The guy who signed us to Atlantic at the time left right before the release of ‘Shaft Of Light’ and in the music business you need the guy who signed you on your side otherwise you are on a label with people who signed other bands and have other priorities. I think that’s what buried the band to be perfectly honest. Our key man simply left at the wrong time. I don’t think the album got the care, attention and love from the label that it would have had our main guy be there.‘’
That album also saw the debut of a young drummer called Jason Bonham. Wasn’t he interested in rejoining?
,,He played with us again, I think it was in 2009 or so but Jason is a very busy guy and he is in many different bands. A hard guy to pin down and for me, I’ve got a drummer in my house I love to play with, so as far as I was concerned I was very happy having my son play on it.’’
A NEW START
AIRRACE 2018 Photo – R.J.Gershinson
For ’Untold Stories’ you surrounded yourself with new musicians. How did you find them?
,,Funny enough, it all fell into place. Adam did sent me a Facebook message and I thought he was good, Rocky [Newton] was in a band with ex-members of UFO called X-UFO [later called House Of X] and happened to be on the bill where The Treatment was headlining, and I bumped into him. I told him I was thinking of putting Airrace together again and if he was interested in playing the bass and he said absolutely. He is a great bass player. Linda Kelsey Foster, the keyboard player, I used to see in a band called Dogwatch when I was a kid living in London. We connected as friends on Facebook. By the way, I was thinking about putting another band together, not Airrace at that time, but that became Airrace because Rocky and Adam came in. I had my doubts at first because I was the only original member of Airrace. This was to be another band but I changed my mind.’’
How did you find the time to make this album and in the meantime working on The Treatment’s career?
,,It was very tough I must say, two years of constant work. I own a pre-production studio at home and did a lot of the vocals and guitars in my studio. Then we went to the Barnyard Studios for bass and drums with Tony Newton who did all the mixing on the album. It was constant working and I am glad the Airrace album is out and The Treatment one will be out next year. But it was tough.’’
Do you still have any ambitions with Airrace?
,,I think this album doing so well is part of the ambition. It’s probably done far better in reviews and that came as a massive surprise to me. It is amazing it still had that impact and I am really proud of that. I love to go out and play. Still love to build the audience; ultimately do some shows with bands like Foreigner or Journey, on a big oar bill with them. I’d love for that to happen. Going out and representing this album live is my next goal.’’
You are used to promoting, managing, overseeing and building the career of The Treatment. Now you have to do that for yourself, is that difficult?
,,The strange thing is, because it was always set up for The Treatment, I’m dealing with the same people I’m dealing with for years now, so that’s not too difficult. The difficult part is arranging everything like I’ve been doing for years but this time I have to play as well. It’s not terribly difficult, it’s the preparation that is very time consuming.’’
,,This is more how the original band was supposed to sound than it was on ‘Shaft of Light’.” -Mansworth about the new album
Is this album a mash up of all your different influences like Deep Purple, ELO, Led Zeppelin, Queen?
,,Absolutely, this was a very enjoyable album to make for me. In the old Airrace I would write and Keith would take over some of the vocals, some of the lyrics. With this one I could make the record as I wanted it. This is more how the original band wassupposed to sound than it was on ‘Shaft of Light’. When we went from the UK to America we were far more like a Zeppelin, Bad Company kind of band and Beau Hill [the producer] really did turn us into a much lighter, keyboard based AOR band. People loved the album so I’m certainly not going to knock it but for my personal taste I’d like it to be a bit more rock rather than too keyboard driven so I like the kind of material that’s on this album. I love Jeff Lynne and ELO, Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin, even stuff like Supertramp and Steely Dan, it’s got a little bit of this seventies flavour in there as well.’’
AIRRACE 2018 Photo – R.J.Gershinson
Is this variety also the strength of this album?
,,I think so. It’s not something I did on purpose. It’s a fact that I started with the end part of my career, so I wanted to get as much as I could on the record. So I let go, I love ELO, Whitesnake, Purple, Zeppelin and didn’t have anybody breathing over my neck saying I should do it like this. These are all my influences and it was like falling in love with music again. Putting all those influences into the record was a joy for me and I think it worked great.’’
THE TREATMENT UPDATE
Besides a musician and producer you are also the manager of The Treatment. Is everything with them still going as planned?
,,The album is finished. They have a new singer Tom [Rampton] who’s been amazing on this record. Like with the Airrace album, I sat there and thought wow I might have a really good record here. I feel the same way with this Treatment album. I think it’s the best one to date by far and it’s tough keeping a steady line-up. We had a pretty steady line-up for 6 or 7 years and then we lost a couple of guys. It’s taken us a while to recover but Tom has taken us back to what the band should sound like. He has the Bon Scott like scruffy voice; I really enjoyed working with him on this album. Personally I am very excited.’’
THE TREATMENT 2018
The Treatment seems to have a hard time to hold on to vocalists. How come?
,,Vocalists are always the most difficult or most demanding characters in a band. Our original guy Matt [Jones], a great vocalist just decided he didn’t want to do rock ‘n’ roll anymore, he wanted to get married and wanted to lead a normal life. Mitchell [Emms], our last guy wasn’t built for touring and he found it really difficult, as simple as that. Sometimes it’s just like that. You have got to be really in love with the business now because there obviously are not the financial rewards that were there back in the days, and getting a band out on the road is tough. You have to be a certain kind of character to be able to continue; and do it because you love it.’’
The Treatment has done some memorable tours with Alice Cooper, Kiss, Mötley Crüe, been around the world, played the big festivals, released three albums so far and are still youngsters in their mid-twenties. What advice would you give to young musicians?
,,I would say, if you go in for the right reasons, aka you love what you’re doing that has to be paramount because it maybe a long while before you see any financial reward. The thing about being in the music business and being in a band is that you get an incredible view of life. You get to travel if your band becomes reasonably successful, not everything is financial gain. The whole part of album sales is missing for bands nowadays, so my advice is find a way to make it work. You can find a way to make it work and survive but you just have to be willing to make sacrifices.’’
And not everybody is willing.
,,Very true, and you find that out as you go down the road into doing it. The core of The Treament, the 3 main guys and I have been together for 10 years; and many bands have come and gone within that 10 years. Bands that we’ve started with and were said to be the next big thing were gone years ago. We keep surviving and keep going because the guys in the band love doing it and we believe in what we’re doing.’’
What do you still have in store for The Treatment?
,,We want to do a lot of good touring and we especially want to get back into Europe next year because we are back on form now.’’
Laurie Mansworth Photo – R.J.Gershinson
Any future plans for Airrace?
,,We definitely want to gig as much as we can. Hopefully there will be some European shows next year. My ideal situation for Airrace next would be to get on a high profile major support tour and I keep my ear on the ground for that. The album has done really well and will be sticking around for a while. There is definitely a future this time unlike last time with Keith, he didn’t like to tour so we did the album and he wasn’t into getting out on tour while Adam is a little younger and he wants to go out and do shows.’’
What if Airrace gets their dream tour and at the same time The Treatment would get their most wanted tour offered as well. That would be a problem, wouldn’t it, because Dhani is the drummer in both bands and you are their manager?
,,Haha, I would obviously have to find someone to step in to manage for this one. You know, it is something we looked at and that may well happen at some point. If it did it wouldn’t be the end of the world and we’ll find a way to work around it. I have been to every Treatment gig since the day they started so that would be a bit of a bummer for me to miss the shows but as a substitute for Dhani, maybe we could ask Jason back for a few shows, I think he might do it.’’
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