Pete Townshend: ”Who’s Next’ Box Set Coming This Fall
Pete Townshend revealed the Who‘s long-awaited Who’s Next box set will be out this fall. During a lengthily chat with Record Collector, he spoke about the collection, explaining, “It’s coming out, I think, in October. The big version of that is nearly three inches thick. . . Firstly, there’s a graphic novel, coming out in July. That will also be part of the larger package later in the year. I got all the old demo tapes out and they all sounded really great. I’m really proud of the demos, and it’s so good to hear them all together. They’re not meant to tell the story of (the aborted concept behind Who’s Next) Lifehouse, but one of the things that the album is supposed to trigger is new interest in the Lifehouse project.”
He went on to say, “There’s a documentary about Lifehouse, which is hopefully coming out in November. And I’m particularly interested in having one more stab at getting people to look again at what Lifehouse was. It’s a sad story, because I wasn’t able to complete the album as I wanted. But it also produced some of the best music that I’ve ever written. It has some of the most ordinary songs, but also some of the most stadium-worthy songs. So, as a package, I’m really, really excited about it.”
Regarding previously unheard material, Townshend said, “There’ll be some, but I think one of the things that’s happened with the Who is we’ve done so much trawling through our old catalogue, because we’ve not been a recording band for so long, that we’ve pretty much rifled everything. The other thing is, I kept a few things back.”
Lifehouse, which had huge Orwellian undertones, was based around Townshend’s tale of society existing in pods which are controlled by an evil government that uses an Internet-like power grid to brainwash people and dupe them into thinking the experiences they go through are actually life. A revolution ensues before the masses are eventually freed as the humans become attuned to a single note of music.
Pete Townshend recalled creating the basic premise for the legendary and infamous Lifehouse story: “I want the story to be about music, I want it to be about the future, I want it to be about hope and vision — but it’s got to be rooted in reality. (It’s) got to look at the possible problems. How could I make my character, effectively, deaf, dumb, and blind without doing it again, y’know? And I thought, I know what I’ll do — I’ll make him live in the future and I’ll put him in a suit. And he’ll be in the suit and he won’t live real life, he’ll live pretend life. He’ll live spoon-fed life. He’ll live couch-potato life. He’ll live the life brainwashers want him to live. And thus, he’ll be deaf, dumb, and blind to his spiritual potential, which is his freedom to congregate with other human beings, interact with other human beings and live what we now call life.”