Graham Goble knows it’s a long way there, so Little River Band recruits John Farnham for the trip


By Steve Newton

When, after releasing six albums, a group loses both its original lead singer and lead guitarist, there’s a good chance a large number of longtime fans will be next to go. But that shouldn’t be the case with the Little River Band, for as Vancouver audiences witnessed this week at the Orpheum Theatre, the group’s recent personnel changes have only helped strengthen them.

When guitarist David Briggs and vocalist Glenn Shorrock left LRB, the band was faced with quite a challenge. But they rose to the occasion by recruiting talented Aussie axeman Stephen Housden and dynamic singer John Farnham–the result being that the group’s lovely harmonies and meticulous arrangements have never sounded better.

The group’s seventh LP, The Net, on which Farnham and Housden make their vinyl debut, has already produced one hit with the soulful power-pop tune “We Two”. And the sextet have just released the funky “You’re Driving Me Out of My Mind” as the second single.

Before their Vancouver appearance I spoke to guitarist/vocalist Graham Goble–the writer of such hits as “It’s a Long Way There”, “Reminiscing”, and “The Night Owls”–over the phone from Grand Forks, North Dakota. I asked him about the recently separated band members, the new ones, and The Net.

Why did Glenn Shorrock leave the Little River Band after the recording of the Time Exposure album?

Well, we just got to the point in our career where we didn’t want to work together anymore. We’d been together six, seven years, and it was just time for him to go his own way. We also had personality problems and musical differences.

Were you sad to see him go?

Naw. I mean, I like Glenn very much as a person, but it just wasn’t working out creatively. So it was best for everybody that he left.

What’s he doing now?

He’s got a solo album out, just released on Capitol.

Have you heard it?

Yeah, it’s good.

How did you happen to find John Farnham, your current lead vocalist?

Well, I produced an album for John in 1981, and working with him then was a great experience. John has been very big star in Australia for many, many years, so he’s well known to everyone.

How do Glenn and John differ as singers?

Glenn’s more of a straight rock singer and pop vocalist, whereas John’s a much more versatile singer. He’s got a lot more capability and facility in his voice. And overall he’s just a more dynamic performer, I believe.

Glenn Shorrock composed some of Little River Band’s most popular songs–“Help Is On Its Way” and “Cool Change”. Do you expect John Farnham will become an active member of the group’s songwriting team?

Well, no–John’s not the writer that Glenn was. But he has written a couple of songs that are very good. So it’s not beyond possibility that John could write a hit for us.

I wanted to ask you about the little track of your new album. What exactly is “the net”?

The net’s the computer age. And it’s not so much a negative thing; it’s more of a warning, I guess. Actually, it’s a statement of fact–that the computer age is fast removing jobs and taking over the control of our existence. It’s just a statement of what’s happened to society today.

I really like the new album. It’s got a funky feel to it that I don’t think the previous albums really had.

No, well we’ve gone deliberately for that. And with the new lead guitarist as well, it’s a natural thing that we should have a change in sound.

Speaking of your new guitarist, Stephen Housden, who did you find him?

Well Stephen was playing in his own band, and they did a backup for us on an Australian tour. We just got to know him and were very impressed with his playing.

Australia has really come into its own as a sort of spawning ground for world-class groups. Do you have any theories as to why it happened so fast down there?

Well, I think it’s timing. I think that it’s the situation where for many years we’ve had a lot of great acts down in Australia that just–for whatever reasons–have not had the avenue to get them to the international market. It’s just finally happened that acts from Australia are getting a good listen to now. We’ve had a couple of real good acts that have put it all together with some good songs and got out.

Which bands or artists do you enjoy listening to in your spare time?

Well, I don’t listen a lot in my spare time, but of the recent people I like the Eurythmics. And I like Michael Jackson. But I spend most of my time listening to older product. I don’t like a lot of the new records that are out.

Which older stuff do you mean?

Oh, everything from Frank Sinatra, Abba… And just great songs from the past, not any particular act. Going right back, I have a very wide taste in music.

Who were your biggest musical influences when you were starting out?

Well, I think that all of us were of the age where the Beatles were a big influence on all of us. A lot of the English acts were, and in the seventies we got on to more of the American acts.

When you mentioned Michael Jackson and the Eurythmics it reminded me of videos. Does the Little River Band have any videos out?

No, we don’t have anything on the same level as that. On our very next album we will be doing videos. The video thing has really exploded very quickly, and on the last album we didn’t really have the time to organize our videos. So we didn’t have any.

The Little River Band seems to me to be a band without an image–like there’s no gimmicks and things. Do you think video can bring a band’s message across without sensationalizing it?

I think it’s a very very important part of the industry today. I mean, what it’s done for Men at Work and Michael Jackson is very obvious. It’s something that virtually goes hand in hand with the release of new products now. It’s got to that point where you virtually have to have a video.

The Little River Band’s first big hit, a song you wrote, was called “It’s a Long Way There”. Has it been?

Well life is, isn’t it. Yeah, I mean this is our twelfth Americans tour, and the career is still sort of on the upward swing. You see, the industry has changed a great deal since 1976, when we started. And we have had to reassess ourselves and relook at our approach to music. And because of this, the change in the band’s sound that was evident on The Net is going to be even more so. We have added a permanent keyboard player to the band now, David Hirschfelder, and we are going to be a lot more keyboard-oriented on the next album–as is most of the new music.


To hear the full audio of my 1983 interview with Graham Goble subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 275 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Colin Hay of Men at Work, 1983
Mark Kelly of Marillion, 1986
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Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, 1997
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Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
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Dave Martone, 2020
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Joss Stone, 2012
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Colin James, 1995
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Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
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John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
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Grace Potter, 2008
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Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
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Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
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Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
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Roy Buchanan, 1988
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Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
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Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
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John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
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Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
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Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
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Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
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…with hundreds more to come


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