The Moody Blues have had their time. That's the sense that one gets when speaking with vocalist and guitarist Justin Hayward. He offered a fairly definitive answer when asked if he'd combine forces with bassist and vocalist John Lodge to play any further concerts together.

Hayward and Lodge, the last remaining members of the classic lineup of the group, have each been focused on playing their own solo shows in recent years. Their final tour together happened in 2018, the same year they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "I think it's our time now to do what we want to do," he tells UCR during an interview.

The songwriter is currently gearing up for the Blue World tour with his solo band. The outing includes selected dates that will find him sharing the bill with Christopher Cross. The shows begin June 18 in Sacramento. Hayward spoke with Ultimate Classic Rock Nights host Matt Wardlaw to discuss his current activities.

What was the inspiration for your most recent solo single, "Living for Love" and how did it come together?
I’m in a time of life where you meet people and you know, I’m kind of haunted by the ghost of myself. [Laughs] So I have to keep meeting that ghost and explaining him. It’s always present, because you know, people remember a certain time with music. I met some people and it sent me down a road, thinking about how my late brother and I, our lives were just built around music. That was it. We had a few records and then knew some friends who had a few [more]. Some other friends would come around and it would just be a whole evening of music. I think that music described our lives somehow. I remember when my brother and I first had girlfriends…and then you get dumped! And then it’s all about just one song. I was just talking about those times when our lives were just about music. We didn’t have anything else, really, to worry about. We were in a safe and secure place with wonderful parents. We were just living for love and music.

Watch Justin Hayward's 'Living for Love' Video

Do you see yourself eventually doing another solo album?
I think so. I’m very lucky that there’s always kind of an outlet. But I’m not under any pressure now. So I’m often just writing for myself. I know it’s kind of selfish, I suppose, but I’m just writing for my own pleasure. I have a number of pieces in the bottom drawer that I keep returning to. One day, I’ll put them all right. At the moment, I’m offered a lot on the road. That’s taking up a lot of my time. I see my [producer] Alberto [Parodi], in fact, we were together just a couple of days ago. We make plans for some recording and then we know something will happen. But at the moment, I’m offered so much on the road, that I’m doing that. I’m having a year of really doing that. I’ve done a British tour, an American tour -- and I’m out again through June and July. Then, I’ll have more dates in September and head back to the U.K. in October. I’m really enjoying that part of it. But when that’s done, Alberto and I will be back together and something will happen.

Earlier this year, you wrote about Days of Future Passed on your website and how there was a studio cat running around that made its way onto the recording. I'd never heard that. I would assume the British studios of the day would be pretty uptight and there wouldn't be a cat running around.
I can always hear it on the record, at the end, after “Nights in White Satin.” It’s just one out-of-time bit. But you’re talking about a three hour session. I was the only one in the group there on that day. I think it was just a Saturday. They did a run-through with Peter Knight and I don’t think anybody was uptight. We’d done our songs, the group, in the week before. So Peter knew our songs and he knew how it was all going to fit together. He was the orchestral arranger for Days of Future Passed. He took our themes, most notably, “Nights,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” “The Morning: Another Morning” and “Dawn is a Feeling” and based his music in a classical style around them -- so they were the links in between our music, even though there’s no time when we’re actually playing together. There’s a tiny bit of overlap at the end of “Nights in White Satin,” but the orchestral sound that we have [on our songs] on Days of Future Passed is just from Mike [Pinder’s] Mellotron. The orchestra was just a three hour session, so it was one run-through with hardly any stops. Just some corrections and then a take. And it was a take in one go. But near the end [Hayward chuckles], I know exactly the door that was left open -- and the cat ran through and knocked over a tree bell.

READ MORE: Top 10 Moody Blues Songs

It's always striking to me the role that Mike Pinder played with the Mellotron. He went so far beyond just getting one and using it. It seems like he helped to really guide the technology in a sense.
Well, he’d worked at Mellotronics for a period. The first Mellotron we got was from a social club up in Birmingham and we brought it back down. Mike took all of the really heavy stuff out of it, transformers and speakers, and then it was a double manual, so he was able to get rid of all of the dogs barking in the night, trains rushing through tunnels, that kind of stuff -- Spike Jones kind of sounds. I think that originally, those sounds, that aspect of the Mellotron, was what appealed to the makers at Mellotronics. They thought that was their market.

What do you think that Mike brought to the Moody Blues that was important?
Mike was a natural born musician. You know, you don’t think about how important these things are at the time. You just get on with it and keep moving. We didn’t have anything, so we had nothing to lose, really. I don’t think we ever thought about that, what’s anybody bringing to this thing? Mike could play pub piano without looking. He’d be looking up at you smiling, but he’d be playing. I always thought that was absolutely brilliant. I think his purpose was probably the same as mine, really, if we had a purpose. Mostly, we just wanted to pay the petrol and sleep somewhere. But we both wanted to make it about original material rather than cover versions.

READ MORE: Moody Blues Co-Founder Mike Pinder Dead at 82

You worked with Tony Visconti on your solo album, Moving Mountains. Is that how he ended up working with the band after that on The Other Side of Life?
Yes, I think we were in a period where we kind of needed producers just to pull things together. The whole music business had moved on. Matt, there’s been several times in my musical journey when the general consensus was, “Hey, it’s all over, man. You had your hits, that’s it.” But I knew it wasn’t. I knew there were certain producers that had sounds and a way of recording that would always take us forward. Of course, the things we did in the ‘80s with Tony and a number of different producers, really, I was alive, awake, aware and I knew exactly what was going on. I enjoyed every moment. I think it's probably my favorite decade for music anyway. I’m a sucker for that.

The '80s seems like it gave the Moody Blues the chance to move in some interesting directions.
Sonically, I think we were moving forward, yes. We’d lost Mike, of course, and [producer] Tony Clarke. But I think the people that we were working with, what they brought was something that just sounded right for the time and the age. It still stands up today. You know, “Your Wildest Dreams,” I don’t hear it much, but sometimes I’m in the U.S. on the road and I’ll suddenly hear it. I’ll think, “Wow.” The sound of it is just so right -- and the balance. Everything just seems to work. So Tony, Pip Williams, Alan Tarney, Chris Neil, they all moved us forward sonically, which is what needed to happen. Our records needed to sound really clear and good and clean.

Watch the Moody Blues 'Your Wildest Dreams' Video

Long Distance Voyager recently marked its latest anniversary. How well were you positioned with songs going into that album? "The Voice" and "Gemini Dream," were those two songs already written?
Yes, I think in fact, “The Voice” was probably the first thing I did where I’d recorded the acoustic guitars at home -- and the groove. Time code was important, the LInn Drum, of course, was important. Graeme [Edge] was one of those drummers who loved that. He would play on top of it. You know how it was, Matt, with some drummers. It was like, “Oh, I don’t want to go near a drum machine, time code or anything like that. But not Graeme, he was happy. “Yes, let’s do it!”

Graeme brought such character to the group. He was such a distinctive player.
The sound of Graeme’s drums were just brilliant. I can’t say he was the greatest drummer in the world, but the sound of his drums, he’d just tuned up and I’d always be standing there next to that high hat and I’d think, “Yeah, that really does sound nice.” You never had to do anything to his snare or the tom-tom sound. I often went with him, because I enjoyed it, [going] across the road to buy cymbals that were very particular. It was a pleasure to be there, listening to them all, knowing that he and I agreed on the sound of cymbals. I loved all of that. It was important.

How much contact do you have with John these days?
Well, the whole Moody Blues thing is a kind of family, so it’s still there. It’s a family and we’re involved in all of that. You know, the group has never been a group of mates, where you say, “Hey, let’s go out to dinner tonight” or “Let’s do that.” But we all have a purpose.

It's been said that the Moody Blues won't do shows with Ray Thomas and Graeme both gone. But when you consider the Blue Jays album and shows you did with John in the '70s, is there a scenario where the two of you might play shows together again at some point?
No. Why? I don’t know, Matt. That’s the honest answer. I don’t know.

It seems like you're getting to do what you do with your solo shows -- and that seems very similar to what he's been doing, so I can understand that.
Yeah, I think it’s our time now to do what we want to do.

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