Theorizing about a potential follow-up to the band’s 2019 LP, WHO, the guitarist told Rolling Stone that, before Christmas, he “had an idea for a series of songs” and had written “a series of essays.” He said Daltrey “half-liked” the idea and “said it would be interesting to hear when the music comes.”
That’s when the confusion started for Townshend, who said he read some of the singer’s press comments that “were very much at odds with the conversation [they] had face-to-face.”
“I think we really need to have another proper conversation,” he said. “Until we have that conversation, I don’t think there’s any real prospect of a Who album developing, because it’s all in my hands and I tend to do it, and then Roger comes along and sings the songs.”
Townshend added that he needs to know he’s “facilitating Roger’s needs as a singer.”
“There’s only two of us now. And these days, he insists on having music to sing, which he believes in, completely and utterly, that he can get inside,” he continued. “Unless he can inhabit the story of the song, he can’t do a good job. And so it means that I have to, in a sense, work as as tailor. I’m not really that free to write whatever comes off the end of my tape machine.”
The songwriter emphasized that he has “a number of ideas” but cautioned: “I don’t know whether there will be another Who album. It needs Roger to be on it. And I think he was even complaining that he didn’t make any money out of it. I was like, ‘Who does make money out of fuckin’ records anymore?'”
Townshend recently addressed that financial component with Uncut, noting, “It was great to have an album out there, something that the fans liked, and I was really proud of it. But far too much money was spent making it. It went out of control completely and ended up costing me money. I can’t go on doing that.”
New record aside, the Who are continuing to reissue their back catalog: They’ll release a Super Deluxe Edition of 1967’s The Who Sell Out on April 23, followed by a two-LP version of 1981’s Face Dances for Record Store Day in June.