New kid in town Ben Falk sits down with some country rock veterans...
The Eagles are back on the road. And regardless of their personal situations, it's a place they love to be. One of the world's most successful bands are now one of the most legendary in the live arena - and their Everestsized pile of ticket receipts prove it.
"I'm really excited about going out," admits guitarist/singer Glenn Frey, who now makes up one quarter of the super group, along with drummer/vocalist Don Henley, bassist Timothy B Schmit and lead guitarist Joe Walsh.
"We've had a five-month break from playing live and we're not going to do it long enough to get tired of it."
As the creators of the biggestselling album in history (Greatest Hits 1971-1975), tiring themselves out playing for money is no longer a concern.
"I don't know how country music acts do it," continues Glenn. "Two hundred dates a year? I would die - I think I would hate my job."
In fact, the notoriously taciturn band are relishing the opportunity to unleash their songs on British audiences this month.
"We have a very broad demographic," he reveals. "It sort of explains a lot - that people really like these songs."
Joe Walsh, a self-described "old rocker" agrees that the band truly comes alive on stage.
"It has always been the case," he says. "There's been tense times, mostly not our fault, but we're still together, we're brothers and when we come together, it's very focused energy."
Still, he can't quite believe their continued popularity.
"I scratch my head, I can't really see where we fit in," he laughs. "Now, there's a whole new generation who weren't around when our records were out and it's kind of refuelled our audience."
And that audience expects the hits - like Hotel California, Peaceful Easy Feeling and The Long Run - which the guys don't mind delivering.
"I'm not saying there's a right way or a wrong way," argues Glenn. "There are some artists who are resistant to their past. Don and I have always felt that those are the songs that people truly love. I may have played Take It Easy 370 times since the last time I was in England.
"But," he adds, "there's a bunch of guys there who just got turned on to our music and have never seen us perform. And does that mean we don't do Hotel California?"
He shakes his head: "People want to hear those songs."
Joe says he doesn't mind playing the old tunes - it just takes him a while to warm up.
"I still get a little nervous when the five-minute mark is called," he grins sheepishly. "And by the third song, I settle down. When you get energy from the audience, that's what makes it a special night."
They've always been famous for their low-key live performances and the band still like to concentrate on the music. The delicate four-part harmonies and shrewd instrumentals mean that there's little chance to write mental shopping lists or plan what's for dinner.
"Don was saying it's amazing how the mind can wander during the show," laughs Glenn.
"But most of the time, I'm thinking about what I'm playing and what I'm singing - I'm just standing there trying to make sure my parts are right."
The modern-day set also includes plenty of chances for the individuals to show off their solo skills. Since the group disbanded in 1980 (nine years after forming in Hollywood), all the members have had a crack at stardom by themselves.
Don Henley probably succeeded best, writing the mega-hit The Boys Of Summer and several platinum albums. Glenn even tried his hand at acting, starring in a short-lived television detective series (it lasted just a single episode), as well as a cameo appearance in Miami Vice and a supporting role in Jerry Maguire.
Now that their heady days are behind them, the foursome are more focused on their families than living like rock-and-rollers. Not surprisingly, Glenn's 13-year-old son is a budding guitar player. But that doesn't mean that he has any more respect for his old man.
"Our kids don't have a concept of The Eagles," Glenn laughs.
"If they do, it's not that big of a deal to them. My son was more impressed when I introduced him to David Gilmour (from Pink Floyd)."
After a long battle with drink and drugs, Joe says just to be playing again is reward enough.
"It's kind of uncharted waters, because I was so crazy in the 70s and 80s," he says. "I wasn't sure I was going to live this long. But I got that straightened out.
"We hadn't really planned what to do when we got into our mid-to-late 50s," he continues.
"I'm not going to dress like David Lee Roth when I'm 80. But we don't want to rest on our laurels. As long as we can do this good, we'll do it."
Glenn also appreciates the fact that despite the myriad stories of excess in their youth, they managed to stay fairly anonymous.
"We were fortunate that we didn't over-expose ourselves," he agrees. "We tried to be mindful of that. One of the great allies you can have in your career as an artist is the imagination of your audience. The less people knew about The Eagles, the more they imagined."
And like any truly world-class celebrity, he even succeeds in turning their lack of desire to do inter-views into a plug for the tour.
"The only way anybody can find anything out about us is to come to the show." You heard him.
* The Eagles play Birmingham's National Indoor Arena tomorrow and Wednesday