‘We like a big sound’: Decades later, Neil Young and Crazy Horse still play ear-melting shows

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You might think, considering the scorching volume of their shows and the way they huddle together so closely in the middle of the stage, that Neil Young and Crazy Horse are all but deaf. Bassist Billy Talbot clarifies things.

“I don’t use a hearing aid yet,” Talbot Talbot tells KJR in Seattle, laughing. “We’re trying to cosmically join together, kind of like planets in space that have to touch each other, gravity wise, in order for it to work.”

Crazy Horse, since its founding by Talbot, Young, Ralph Molina and Danny Whitten in the late 1960s, has reconnected sporadically over the years. 2012, however, was a signature moment — with Frank “Poncho” Sampedro and Co. issuing not one but two well-received studio efforts.

As their on-going tour has shown, the decades haven’t lessened their appetite for ferocious sounds, especially on stage. Neil Young and Crazy Horse resume an on-going world tour on July 11 in Europe, with dates in Germany, France, Italy and England through August.

“It’s only loud for the audience,” Talbot adds. “On stage, Poncho plays guitar using an 35-watt old Fender deluxe. Neil is using a 50-watt old Fender deluxe. I’m using amps that are at the most 100 watts. We have the oomph on stage, believe me. To reach out to 18,000 in an arena, it has to be loud enough to do that — and we like a big sound. So, we’re not complaining.”

The bassist recently released his second Billy Talbot Band album, the nine-track On the Road to Spearfish. Talbot began performing solo shows between Crazy Horse tours back in 1999, and issued Alive in the Spirit World in 2004.

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