Frey Isn’t Bothered by the ‘Weather’ : Rock: The former Eagles member, who plays the Coach House on Wednesday, has more to think about than album sales.
While he’s been responsible for a slew of platinum and gold hits in his solo career and with the Eagles, Glenn Frey has yet to scratch the charts with his first album in four years, “Strange Weather,” several months after its release. He’s touring with an expensive 12-piece band and sometimes playing small venues that might seemed cramped to a man once accustomed to arenas.
But Frey had other concerns when reached by phone in Long Beach on Saturday. “Michigan’s turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter against Illinois. And the guy next door has a lawn mower going right under the window. Other than that I’m doing OK,” Frey said.
He hasn’t lost sleep over his album’s absence from the charts. “For myself, my focus is just to improve every time I make a record. I don’t really have much control over sales or trends, nor do I put a lot of stock in them. I rate myself according to how I feel I performed. For me ‘Strange Weather’ was such a big step forward. I’ve had some nice highlights before, but I’d never put everything together on one record like this before. I think this one is a lot deeper than the other albums I’ve made,” he said.
He’s doing a few shows in California, including a Coach House appearance Wednesday, before heading off to tour the Orient. Frey makes his home these day in Aspen, Colo., where he recorded “Strange Weather” in his home studio. The time since his last album, “Soul Searchin,’ ” has been spent “remarrying and relocating,” that latter event precipitated by the arrival of a daughter.
“The impetus was definitely having a daughter and wanting my kid to grow up in an idyllic environment with clean air, and life being a simpler equation for those beginning years. And sometimes you do something for one reason and there’s other payoffs that you don’t figure on.
“Recording in Colorado really appealed to me. My life is so much simpler up there . . . My brain wasn’t cluttered with all the outside stimulus that one gets from living in L.A. As a result, I think I was able to concentrate better on the work I had to do. There’s a lot to be said for having a little bit of peace of mind.”
“River of Dreams” on the album was an autobiographical song he wrote in Los Angeles while anticipating the move. “I just broadened the strokes a little bit so that other people could relate to its feeling,” he said. In the song, the move to a place fresh and clean is expressed more as a longing or dream, and indeed most “other people” probably couldn’t just up and move to Aspen as did Frey, who has owned a house there since 1975.
The next song on the album, “I’ve Got Mine,” addresses the “moral malnutrition” of the people who have such fortune and don’t give something back.
“I’ll be the first person to tell you it’s a lot easier to think about the world’s problems when you’ve got money in the bank, can put food on the table and you’re not worried about where your next paycheck is comin’ from. But my wife and I have been doing a lot of fund-raising for Grassroots Aspen Experience (an organization that brings underprivileged children to Colorado to experience nature). . . .
“It just became apparent to me that, although I know a lot of people who are committed to many charitable causes, there are also really a lot of people out there who are committed more to running their personal empires and don’t really care enough about other people.
“I believe God likes a quiet giver. I don’t like to publicize a lot of what I might be doing, but I try to do my part, and I just wish that everybody would. You don’t have to be a successful rock star in order to help people. It just disappoints me when people who do well don’t feel the same obligation to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. The disparity’s right there staring you in the face, so the song doesn’t really preach one way or the other,” he said.
While the Eagles were far from being Eagle Scouts, anyone who has seen Frey in ads for fitness clubs knows he was a couple of years ahead of the pack in realizing that fitness is the high of the ‘90s.
“I’ve found the benefits go way beyond the gym,” he says. “It’s the way it makes you feel the other 23 hours of the day. It’s improved my clarity. . . . For me, my brain is like a motel room, and every night the maid comes and cleans everything up, so when you wake up in the morning there’s no clutter.”
Frey has done a fair amount of acting in the past decade, from “Miami Vice” and “Wiseguy” episodes to working alongside Robert Duvall in “Let’s Get Harry.” But he’s putting acting on the back burner for now to concentrate on his music. He expects another album, and another child, next year.
* Glenn Frey and Jack Tempchin play Wednesday at 8 p.m at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. $35. (714) 496-8930.