1. So you're back touring - didn't you do your Final Bow tour in 2011?
I was thinking of backing off a bit but that tour packed out over 1000 people at every show. I took a break for a while then after a year I started getting antsy again. Started singing around the kitchen and in the mirror, looking at myself and thought I better go out there again. I'm growing my sideburns for this tour. But they'll stay white. I'm not doing an Elvis impersonation. But there's an energy and a feeling that makes it a bit like Elvis now I think, though he'd be a lot older than me. Yes, I've sung a lot of Elvis and people did call me [the Kiwi Elvis] but I was more of a Tom Jones fan, to tell the honest, spiritual truth.
2. Like Tom Jones, and Elvis, you were a dab hand with the ladies in your day. How many were there?
Probably too many. I've ended up by myself in a sense though, which is a bit strange. It goes with the business of being on that stage, under the spotlights, and the crowds. For some reason music turns women on. Yes, there were lots. I never mess around with girls that I work with though, because it doesn't work. I did it once and I ended up having to fire her. Of all the women I've been with I only had two sons to one woman who I settled with. I don't know how or why but I was very lucky that I didn't have half a dozen ladies knocking on my door saying "here's your son or daughter". I don't know how I got away with it.
3. Do you mind being on your own?
I love it. I have my freedom to come and go as I please. I travel the world all the time. Live out of a suitcase. But if I do meet someone that really appeals to me as I get older I will definitely hire her. Ha!
4. Are you spiritual?
My spiritual beliefs are just that you should stay respectful, maintain manners, stay respectable. Believe in yourself and do the best you can for other people. Watch the alcohol and watch the drugs. Watch what you eat because that's a big part of it. Don't smoke. I never drink while I'm performing or before. I only drink wine and water. I think the water is my saviour because a large percentage of your body's made of water. No, that's not Champagne [in the glass]. It's wine. It's probably a bit early for it but I had a bit left over from a party.
5. Did drugs ever become a problem for you?
I never got into cocaine. A lot of my friends were snorting that. I touched a little bit of volcanic marijuana - hash or whatever you call it - but for some reason I must have taken after my mother. I always knew my limit. Never got involved in it. I watched a couple of my friends drop dead with that cocaine. Their personalities changed. I got a lot of commonsense from my mother.
6. You're living in the house you bought for her now - do you think of her often?
I know her spirit's around. She's always here for me. I bought the house for her in 1970 when I was living in a condo in Hawaii. This to her was like a palace. The Queen's palace. My mother sensed something in me when I was a boy, something special. It was the music, I suppose. I was strumming the guitar around the house when my siblings were stripping cars. I was a mummy's boy in a sense. My father didn't really like me that much.
7. Did that hurt?
My father wasn't a great father. Not a father like I am to my boys. I kiss them and hug them. Love them to death. He was more of a bully. He'd be chasing me or my brother trying to boot us up the bum. Once in Kawerau my brother and I were going to ambush him: I would get him around the ankles and trip him and Wally [Frankie] would beat him up. But when he walked down the driveway, he was so intimidating, we didn't. We were all afraid of him. But he was my father so I took him to Australia when I was doing well. Mum wouldn't come because she was a homebody but he did. We had a good time together. He was over the moon. Bragging to all his relations. He was the creator of this successful boy.
8. What does it feel like being up on stage?
Anxiety is bad with me. I get very, very bad anxiety before I perform. I always try to get everything right and I have got millions of lyrics in my brain. Once I'm up there and afterwards I'm a different person. What does that feel like? Like having sex, it feels so relaxing and beautiful. Well, that's a weird way to explain it I suppose. I don't have that [anxiety] problem before sex.
9. Did you want to be an actor?
I should have been an actor. I had opportunities. I was labelled a matinee idol in Las Vegas and I took a few lessons, but wasn't comfortable. I was probably too lazy. Always a late sleeper. To do well in that business you have to be up at 7am. Rich people are up at 7am to go to the bank. John Wayne asked me once in LA if I could ride a horse. I said "yeah, I can ride" and he gave me a card to go to his agency but I slept in. I could have been one of his Indians.
10. Do you ever get depressed?
Not really. I'm always up. I sometimes get a bit lonely but if I do I see my boys, see my family. I've had a great life. Been around the world. Sung. Made a lot of people happy. I've been rich then I've been broke. I'm still out there trying to become rich again. I do get lonely though. I have to admit that. That's a horrible feeling. The only thing that's left for me [to do] is have a woman in my life. I won't compromise though. At this stage of my life she'll be the last and final one.
11. How do you feel about ageing?
I hate it. What age would I like to be? About 44. I remember then I had the energy, the gusto. When I got to 65 everything is a little bit of a struggle. But everyone knows that. I think I'll live a long life, mainly because of my attitude and love of nature. Singers normally live a long life. It's all the breathing we do, exercising your lungs constantly. Right now I'm about to start on a programme of light weights and sit-ups, to get the mid section down for this tour. The rest of me is fine but the mid-section needs to come down.
12. Are you nervous about playing with Elvis' band?
I'm not nervous. I'm actually excited. I don't know the band but they're some of the best musicians in the world. We'll have three days together before the first [gig] in Hawaii. Three [backup] singers. Big sound. A mix of mine and Elvis' songs. He did 80 per cent great songs but there's 20 per cent crap songs. I'm only doing the great ones. It will be great to be international again.
*The Original Elvis TCB Band in concert with John Rowles tours New Zealand beginning in Blenheim on October 31 and finishing at Auckland's Bruce Mason Theatre on November 14.