Q&A: Jun/Jul/Aug, Part IV
9/1/2010 (updated 1/3/2011)

How do you feel about the use of vuvuzuelas during World Cup matches? Also, in light of some terrible referee calls, do you favor video replay for resolving on-field disputes?

Vuvuzuelas, disgusting, already banned from many club grounds. Surely, the next World Cup will have Hawkeye on the goalline? It works in tennis and cricket, and takes about 8 seconds. Enough of this farce.

As the proud owner of a slightly-faded RTB tour T-shirt from 1991-92 (with those quirky stick figures), I wonder whether you will ever employ your graphic design skills on any future album or tour T-shirt?

I'll need to practice first.

Do new albums typically get titled after they're recorded and programmed, and you've time to live with the finished product? Or, do you often have a title concept in mind (e.g. Sweet Warrior, Mock Tudor, Old Kit Bag) before you go into the studio? How hands-on are you with overseeing album design, photography, etc?

The title comes at any time in the process, more usually towards the end. Sometimes when the songs are finished, a title will suggest itself. All stages of the design are overseen, but sometimes there are slips between cup and lip. It has occasionally been the case, less these days with emailing of files, that I've been on the road at vital points in the design, and had to OK things without seeing them, to avoid holding up release dates.

As a serious gardener, how do you manage to keep two gardens going on two continents considering the amount of time spent away from each and the different climate conditions of LA and London?

London suffers the most. Because we are away a lot, it's mostly laid to gravel, with plants in containers. Still, the weeds take about a week to clear. In LA, it's more a case of things dying from lack of water, despite house sitters and drip systems. A couple of days over 90 degrees can stress the less hardy varieties.

We know that "Best Guitarist" polls and other industry accolades have never been important to you. And yet, it seems like an egregious oversight that you and/or Fairport have yet to be inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. How can we fans lobby to get you the acknowledgment you deserve?

I don-t think we belong there. It's not really Rock and Roll, is it? I feel more at home with the BBC Folk Awards.

What's Jack's plan for the future? College or the "family business"?

Jack's at Humbolt, doing Biology. I'm sure if there was work, he'd consider a musical career.

Speaking of family, one could easily imagine a tour that expands on Loud & Rich: the Thompson and Wainwright families doing a bunch of shows together. Is this a possible scenario or would the scheduling of such a tour be too prohibitive in light of everyone's separate careers?

That was virtually the Kate tribute show at the South Bank, and it was fantastic. Rufus is the biggest star, and his audience may be too particular for ongoing possibilities.

Which part of songwriting comes more easily for you, composing or writing lyrics?


It's clear that the record industry as we grownups once knew it is long gone. Given the nature of the industry today, if Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell were starting out now, do you think they'd get discovered by the music industry? Or is the mere notion of a folk superstar emerging nearly impossible for all practical purposes? Put another way, can the cream still rise in today's crowded, bottom line-driven, global music marketplace?

It is different. I don't see anyone having the cultural effect of a Bob or Joni, but there are Devandras and Joannas, and Rufuses. If the subculture gets politicized, it could happen in the future.

You have often joked about Henry, the Human Fly being "the worst-selling record in the history of Warner Brothers Records". While subsequent fame and success have enabled you to take a sardonically humorous view of your initial solo effort, how did you feel about the record's poor sales back then (especially given your success with Fairport)?

I didn't see Fairport as successful, in terms of record sales. Henry was a poor selling record, but my attitude then, as now, is to move on, remind myself of things I liked about it, take on board valid criticism, and do the next project. It is a flawed effort, no electric guitar solos, bad vocals, very eccentric songs. They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Aside from the cricket injury last summer, what is the worst athletic injury you have ever sustained?

I've broken ribs, arm, collarbone through accidents/rugby.