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Interview:
Steely Dan's Becker Knows What Fans Want
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Steely Dan fans haven’t had any new music from the group since “Everything Must Go” in 2003. But group co-founder Walter Becker is confident some of that audience is attuned to his new solo album, “Circus Money.”

“I think it absolutely is — however big that audience is, and whoever they are,” says Becker, 58, who met Steely Dan partner Donald Fagen in 1967 at Bard College in upstate New York and formed the band four years later.

“I think there probably are Steely Dan fans who, if it’s not Donald singing, it’s not Steely Dan — and I think that’s a perfectly valid way to feel about it. So I don’t exactly know who it will appeal to, and on what basis. But it sounds good to me, and it was fun to make it.”

Produced by Joni Mitchell’s exhusband Larry Klein and featuring a pronounced dub reggae flavor, “Circus Money” follows Becker’s first solo outing, 1994’s “11 Tracks of Whack.” But while he performed some of its songs at Steely Dan’s shows that year, Becker says he’s leaving “Circus Money” out of the performances on the group’s current Think Fast Tour.

“I don’t want to impose this on people,” he explains. “My experience has been that fans are there because they want to hear Steely Dan songs. It’s much harder to do new material in venues like the ones we play, so by and large it’s immensely more satisfying for people to hear songs they know.”

As for new Steely Dan material, Becker says it’s best for everyone not to hold their breath waiting for it.

“At this point we don’t have a (record company) deal and we haven’t really talked too much about it,” he says, “so I don’t think there’s any real plan in place. I figure it’s something we can do at any time we want to, and if it’s ever to happen it’ll be in some sort of organic way.

“And at this point I think the touring thing is better for us in a way. It feels better for me to go out and tour and play those songs than to be cooped up indefinitely in a studio. That’s just the way I feel right now.”



Steely Dan and the Joey DeFrancesco Trio perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Aug. 15) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. Tickets are $85 and $55 pavilion, $20 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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