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Viewpoint
Updated 9.30.13


What a fantastic honour. I’m absolutely thrilled.
I was shocked. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet.


Richard Thompson OBE

It's no 'Sir.' I don't fall into the same category as Sirs Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, or Elton John, but yeah, it's pretty good. It didn't really change anything for me. Some people take it seriously, but all I can really be is appreciative and humbled.


Yeah, that was nice too, but it would be kind of obscene for me to do that,
don't you think? I mean, I didn't really earn it. I didn't spend the last five years studying up for it. It's a fantastic honor, really, and it's nice to be recognized; but only a real p—— sticks these letters around their name — unless they're like a 'doctor' doctor.
Know what I mean?

Richard Thompson's Honorary Doctorate

 

beeBoston Globe 9/28/13


beerockol.com 7/30/13


I'd like not to be remembered at all. To disappear completely. Just be erased. You know, sweep over the footprints so that I've never happened. Never existed. Hard to do, I understand, if you've left a bunch of records behind.

beeChgo SunTimes 7/10/13

 

beeBOMB 6/22/13

 

beeLA Times 5/16/13

I'm very honored to be considered for an Americana award, even if I demonstrably don't play an American style of music

beeMonterey Weekly 5/9/13

 

beeUT San Diego 5/5/13

 

beeThe Quietus 4/16/13

 

beeMusic&Musicians 4/11/13

 

beeDallas Observer 4/10/13

 

I write music that is fairly British oriented. I am glad that it translates. I've had a lot of songs covered by country artists. I've had a few hits on the country charts. That is a surprise and then it is not a surprise. I think the styles are quite close between British and Appalachian music for example. It's only a short leap so I think things are adaptable. I think often that people in a genre like country music are looking for something slightly different outside of the genre. A style can become a bit cliched and people are looking for fresh ingredients.

 

beeLexgo 4/7/13

 

beeBillboard 3/17/13

 

beeFSS 3/14/13

 

beeChicago Trib 3/12/13

 

I'm glad to say my audience challenges me to come up with new stuff.

 

bee13th Floor 3/10/13

 

beeShefflied Teleg 2/28/13

 

I feel I can get to the human condition more now than I used to. I’m always trying to find universal truths.

 

beeElsewhere NZ 2/27/13

 

beeThe Telegraph 2/20/13

 

beeReuters 2/19/13

 

I grew up on murder ballads. That seems normal to me. And pop seems light and fluffy.

 

beeThe Telegraph 2/15/13

 

beeLTW 2/11/13

 

beeArts Desk 2/9/13

 

beeNashville Creme 2/8/13

 

I'm a long-time fan of country music. I was listening to it in 1965 and '66, at a time when it was deeply unfashionable in the U.K. Everyone else was into Otis Redding and the blues. I discovered a Hank Williams record, and I thought, "Wow, this is really something." And I kind of went off from there, to Lefty Frizzell and Webb Pierce. I love '60s and '70s country music.

 

beeHerald Scotland 2/8/13

 

beeMusic Radar 2/5/13

 


I have to give full credit to Michael Jerome and Taras Prodaniuk, our drummer and bass player, for being such great musicians and nailing their parts so quickly.

 

beeMTVUK 2/2/13

 

If you accuse me of being a folk musician I'll swear I'm a rock musician - and vice versa.

 

beeProperganda 25

 

beeNew West Records

 

beefolkradio.com 1/18/13

 

I wasn't really expecting to hear from Britney, but a call would have been nice. I'm sure she knows where I live.

beestaugustine.com 1/17/13

 

This is a fairly funky take on folk music. We recorded it in Buddy Miller’s house - analog recording. I’m very pleased with it. I think it’s a different sound.

 

beeLouderThanWar 1/11/13

 

beeSpiral Earth 1/11/13

 

beeRolling Stone 11/12/12

 

On a good night, you get into a zone with the other musicians and that’s what you hope happens. The music flows and you're not really thinking about it. Sometimes you can switch off and go outside yourself and observe things flowing.

 

I think I start out just to write stories. And when you do that, something of you inevitably ends up in the song and you end up writing about things that might have happened to you. You might change the town, or the scene, or the name of the girl - the particulars of the song might be fictional, but the core of it can be very real. It's sometimes hard to find the dividing line if you’re writing, especially if you’re writing songs. It’s fiction and it’s personal.

 

I have a very loyal audience. They're just fantastic. They're wonderful people. In some cases, people have kind of been with me for 45 years, which is incredible really, through thick and thin. It’s great to have fans like that.

 

 

I thought it would be good to have (the album) sound fairly garage, if you like - slightly trashed out. I think it is, in a good way, the opposite of smooth.

 

 

With a trio you've got less harmonic information - you haven't got someone playing the chords all the time, so there's more space, there’s more air. You have to approach that a little differently so there's a lot more melody, and a lot more unison between the guitar and the bass, for instance. In terms of writing, I write on the acoustic guitar to start with and then take it from there, so everything starts acoustically and it gets adapted to electric.

 

I'm less influenced by
what I consider the outside stuff:
where I am physically.
I'm more concerned with
this inner landscape
where the drama happens.
It all helps to put the picture together.
A lot of my songwriting is
trying to address those questions:

Who am I?
Where do I come from?
How come my parents
were the way they were?

 

I wanted to avoid something that was too tidy and polished, that sounded immaculate but dull.
The rest of my life is immaculate but dull, but musically I like to be a bit more spontaneous.

 

I don't have an i-Pod.
I don't believe in them.

 

Both my parents were musical in an amateur way. My grandparents had a dance band up in Scotland. My father had some good guitar records, like Django Reinhardt and Les Paul, and my big sister had the early rock and roll records, so I was doomed to love that stuff from an early age. The reality of my becoming a musician rather than a banker or accountant was tough for my parents though. After about 30 years, they finally got behind it, and realized that I was never going to get a 'proper' job.

 

People over 55
still have urges.

 

I think people perceive my songs as serious and so to have a humorous stage persona helps to break up the mood a little bit.

 


This time there are not overtly political songs but there is a song called Stuck On The Treadmill which is about people struggling to keep their jobs and how hard it is to earn a wage to live on, obviously it’s part sociological and part political and is about the situation of the last few years. There are one or two songs like that on the record. Other songs are about all kinds of things - love songs, songs of betrayal, jealousy and hatred!

 

It was in my mother's will about what hymns and songs she had at her funeral, and Meet On The Ledge was a song she wanted. Playing it there was the hardest thing I have ever done. I probably look at the lyrics in a different way from when I wrote them. I'm not sure what I was thinking about when I wrote it, I was only about 19. It was the sixties, after all. People still connect with the song, and because of the Cropredy Festival it has become anthemic.

 

 

I have a good life and think I have to do penitence sometimes - and I punish myself by doing request shows. This is me beating myself with rocks to achieve humility.

 

 

 

I'm really a Celtic musician. I come, predominantly, from a folk background. That's the main tradition that I see myself continuing in. But I'm also pulling in other references as well.

 

 

I think
"If this is summation of
my career so far, I have to
work a lot harder."


bee
badassdigest 9/13/12


beepennyblackmusic 7/4/12


My start on the guitar was thanks to the late Bert Weedon's "Play in a Day" guitar book. I'd bought myself an old beat-up Spanish guitar and, with help from Bert's book, I did learn to play in a day! So, well done, Bert! The guitar was quite a sexy thing to be seen to be playing back then and I joined various bands at my school in Highgate, North London. This included one called Emil and the Detectives (after the book of the same name) with Hugh Cornwell who was later guitarist and lead singer with the Stranglers. We did R & B covers and tried to be like the Who.

 

beeBoulder Weekly 6/15/12

 

beeVail Daily 6/14/12

You have to keep reinventing and reinterpreting the songs because you can't perform them meaninglessly.

 

Life is full of uncertainties and surprises, and I think that's what keeps it interesting.
I love the navigation.
And I love trying to capture these ideas and emotions in song.

 

 

My process
is not to have
a process.

 

We did it ridiculously quickly. It was just stupid. But it sounds great. It turned out surprisingly funky, sort of a new genre - folk-funk. It's quite snappy, somewhere between Judy Collins and Bootsy Collins.

 

beeMusic and More AZ 6/12

 

beeArizona Republic 6/8/12

 

When you are really into it you are in a different state, there is almost nothing passing through your head, It’s a little like an out of body experience, people sometimes describe it as the music playing itself. I think you go into a trance state. Another cliche is that the music plays you. I think these are all reasonable descriptions of something that’s not really describable.

 

beeUncut 4/12

 

beeNo Depression 4/5/12

 

beeA.V. Club 2/8/12

 

beeHuffington Post 2/3/12

 

I think it's time for people to start speaking out about this type of politically engineered social injustice. This has to be resolved, and I believe it will be in the next 20 years. It might take that long, but it's going to happen. The income gap is too ridiculously wide. The middle class in America is particular being driven into poverty. This cannot be sustained. So many people that were formerly a part of the middle class no longer know how to classify themselves. It's called "not enough to live on and not enough to eat."

 

beeSt.Augustine 1/31/12

 

beeFlorida Times 1/27/12

 

beeExaminer 1/27/12

 

I think it's the role of the songwriter to kind of point fingers sometimes, and I think that the Occupy Wall Street movement is very valid. It's based on the horrific selfishness and greed that we've seen over the last few years, and hopefully its effect will be seen politically very soon.

 

beeContact Music 1/26/12

 

beeFolio Weekly 1/25/12

 

beeBillboard 1/25/12

 

I don't hang around waiting for the muse, the muse is notoriously unreliable.

 

beeCourier Journal 10/23/11

 

beeLexGo 10/21/11

 

beeAcoustic Guitar 10/11/11

 

beeNow Magazine 9/8/11

 

beeToronto.com 9/7/11

 

beeOttawa Citizen 9/6/11

 

beeMGChampion 9/6/11

 

beeHartford Cuorant 9/1/11

 

beeSeacoast Online 8/18/11

 

It was a bolt from the blue, utterly and totally. I was genuinely gobsmacked, I've no idea who decides these things or how I came across their radar, or why it should have come about at this time in particular.

 

beeThe National 3/31/11

 

beePortland Mercury 2/11/11

 

beePopMatters 2/7/11

 

beePeteLangman 2/7/11

 

beeThe Argus 2/3/11

 

I didn’t want to sound like everybody else.

 

beeMusicRadar.com 1/26/11

 

beeBirmingham Post 1/21/11

 

beeNottingham Post 1/21/11

 

beeOxford Times 1/20/11

 

I think I’m a better songwriter than I used to be.

 

beemusicOMH 1/14/11

 

beeHeraldScotland 1/10/11

 

beeChronicle Live 1/07/11

 

beeTheYork Press 1/07/11

 

I think I’ve got to be realistic – my chances of getting the Grammy are quite small, actually.

 

beeChicagoTribune 11/05/10

 

beeCgo Sun Times 11/04/10

 

beeSound & Vision 10/10

 

beeTol Free Press 10/29/10

 

beePitts Trib10/28/10

 

I live a very colourful internal life.

 

beeCourierPost 10/22/10

 

beeMettleShop 10/20/10

 

beeLancaster 10/17/10

 

beeAm. Songwriter 10/15/10

 

beeNsvl Scene 10/14/10

 

beeBlurt 10/13/10

 

beeMSN 10/11/10

 

I do two kinds of songs: down-tempo depressed songs and up-tempo depressed songs.

 

beeAUS Chronicle 10/08/10

 

beeWestword 10/05/10

 

beeAustin360.com 10/04/10

 

beePerfect 10/01/10

 

beeStd. Examiner 9/30/10

 

beeMSN Music 9/21/10

 

Ah, me. Oh God, it's always hard to talk about yourself, but I suppose I'd describe myself as a roots-influenced rock 'n' roll guitarist who's still managing to get by after all these years.

 

beeClashMusic 9/3/10

 

beeThe Word 9/10

 

beeFT.com 8/21/10

 

I think of myself as a songwriter who gets up and plays. I'm an accompanist. But sometimes I do get carried away.

 

beePhilly.com 8/20/10

 

beeBurlington FP 8/19/10

 

Life is a test
and an
opportunity.

 

beePHawker 8/19/10

 

beeMeltdown 6/27/10

 

beeSouthCoast 6/24/10

 

I've been playing since I was 10, and if there is a secret, it's just practice.

 

beeTeleggraph 6/10/10

 

beeMusic Radar 6/07/10

 

beeUncut 6/01/10

 

I always thought it important to be counter to the counterculture.

 

beeThe Observer 5/30/10

 

beeBillboard 5/25/10

 

Nepotism will get you
e
verywhere!

 

beeThe Observer4/11/10

 

beeAmer.Songwriter 1/06/10

To stand on stage alone is a basic act of insanity.

 

beeMaui News 11/19/09

 

beeStar Bulletin 11/19/09

 

beeBohemian.com 11/18/09

 

I’m more rock than folk, but I’m more folk than rock.

 

beePost Gazette 11/08/09

 

bee2theadvocate 11/6/09

 

beeHouston Press 11/03/09

 

You can write something you’re very pleased with, but if the people are scratching their heads and not applauding when you’re done, you haven’t communicated. You have to speak to an audience in a way that people understand.

 

beePost Gazette 10/22/09

 

beeDaily Progress 10/16/09

 

beeGoTriad Music 10/9/09

 

beeYesWeekly 10/7/09

 

I lost a lot of friends lately. As you get older, people start to disappear. I just wanted to put up a little memorial there.

 

beeA&E 9/29/09

 

beeinnerviews 9/9/09

 

beeCNN.com 9/7/09

 

beeHuffington Post 9/1/09

 

They know I’m not dead, there are a few years left in the old dog...there’s a bit of road left.

 

beeMagnet Mag 8/26/09

 

beeWall St Journal 8/21/09

 

beeBoston.com 8/16/09

 

beeLA Weekly 7/29/09

 

For me, the best feeling in music is when you're truly improvising and don't know where you're going, but you know you're going to arrive at an interesting place.

 

beePopMatters 7/4/09

 

beeMetroSantaCruz 6/24/09

 

beeFolkworks 06/09

 

I'd love to keep playing for another 10 or 20 years. It would probably be nice to tour a bit less, but I can't think of anything I'd rather do than to keep touring and just die onstage. That would be fine.

 

beeRockband.com 3/10/09

 

beeISAMIR 2/5/09

 

beeUncut 2/09

 

I think you have to trust your artistic sensibility, whatever that is, and go with it. I think Picasso said someone could criticize the morality of his art, but it's not his place to censor himself.

 

beeTimeOut 1/31/09

 

beeYorkshire EP 1/23/09

 

beeBirminghamP 1/19/09

beeVue Weekly 12/04/08

 

beeJam! 12/04/08

 

beeCalgaryH 12/03/08

 

beeSLAM Fall/08

 

beePortlandP 10/16/08

 

beeISAMIR 9/02/08

 

I don't think belief is in a separate compartment of life, something you take out of the cupboard and dust off then put back. I think that it's in everything that you do, in every process that you go through, so musically it's always there in the background, if not in the foreground. It's an all-pervading element.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past ten years, we’ve probably released ten different live things, trying to satisfy the fan base. Obviously there is more, and I suppose we’d like to put out more.

 

 

 

 

I called it Dream Attic because I had a dream in which I was up in an attic and there were all these children's toys wrapped up on plastic. It was a rather surreal
and spooky dream. It says something about childhood, but I'm not sure quite what.

 

 

 

I was thinking that, gosh, recording is an expensive process in the studio, and with shrinking budgets it's hard to get the record companies to give you enough to feel comfortable. So I thought maybe it's cheaper to record on the road, and friends are always saying, 'Gosh, we prefer the live records to the studio albums.' So I thought, 'Well, let's test those theories...Of course after a short time it became obvious it's just as expensive to do it on the road as it is in the studio -- kind of exactly the same price.

 

 

 

 

 

I think the band did a sterling job in learning the material and being able to play it. That said, they're probably going to kill me if I suggest this again — through some freak electrocution accident.

 

 

 

 

In a sense I don't know how old I am. I've got a physical body
that says I'm 60-plus (61),
but in some respects


I think I'm a kid,
and the whole world is there to explore
,

and there's no point
in playing safe.

 

 

 

 

 

As a songwriter, I think what you are aiming for is slightly to discomfort the audience, to get just below the normal consciousness at the things that are not quite talked about.
To the feelings that the audience doesn't know it has yet...

Before life was something
and after life is something.


I certainly believe there is another stage after this. If you want to think of that pseudo-scientifically, you might think of another dimension...

 

 

 

 

 

I get twitchy when I don’t write. When writing’s going bad, and it sometimes does, when I don’t get something written successfully, I’m hard to get along with. I write for pleasure and I write for fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not writing for the American public. I’m writing for a British public that isn’t there anymore. I think they died off. Or maybe they never existed.

 

 

 

 

I’m as excited
as I ever was about
music.

 

 

 

 

Busking gets you used to life as a professional musician, i.e. public humiliation, being ignored, and begging for pennies...

 

 

 

The day you stop learning, you're dead.
I love all aspects of being a musician.

 

 

I'm trying to write stories, and one of the themes I come back to a lot is-

'Who am I and where do I fit in all this?'

An extension of that is, 'Who were my parents and what was their experience of life?' which led me to write a song like 'Al Bowlly' and then extending from that 'Who were my grandparents?'- that led to a song about WW1 like 'Woods of Darney.' It is true that extreme situations are more revealing of character, and therefore a good shortcut for writers.

 

 

 

I’d be happy
writing a play.

 

 

 

It's a bit like paddling a canoe down the river. You want to see what's around the next bend. I think it's exploration, in a sense. Trying to figure out what is coming up next is quite exciting for me. That keeps you kind of alive and vital.

 

 

 

You have to keep yourself challenged. If you're going to be any kind of musician, you have to keep pushing yourself and try and do different things, and trying to get better. That's crucial. Unless you're really excited about music, unless you're really excited about performing, unless you're excited about the possibilities around the corner, I think you're going to play without any edge. You're going to be a dull musician.

 

 

 

 

Well, people always want to know
if it's about them.

Sometimes it is,
and sometimes
it isn't.

 

 

 

 

 

It still seems slightly unreal that you can get paid for doing this!

 

 

 

I suppose I've written you know maybe 300 songs, you know that's not that many. I think Willie Dixon wrote about 2,000. Schubert wrote a lot of songs but he just did the music didn't he.

 

 

 

 

 

It's fun to
sing sad songs.

And it's fun to listen to sad songs. Enjoyable. Satisfying. Something.

 

 

 

 

I got very angry at the greed of these people, the mindless greed. It made my blood boil. I had to say something.

 

 

 

Beethoven used to go up to the attic of his house and look out his window, and he’d start counting the roof tiles as a way to get into the thinking rhythm.

 

 

 

 

I could be lying on a beach in the Caribbean but still write grim and Dickensian.I think that before you pin music down, while it’s still floating a bit in your head, it always sounds fabulous. It’s never that good again. It’s almost celestial when you haven’t quite figured out what it is yet, when it’s still floating around and you haven’t quite grabbed it and defined it. It’s almost like music of the heavens.

 

 

 

 

I’m very surprised it has lasted this long. But music will change. It always does.

 

 

 

 

I’ve been aware for a long time
that to celebrate life you have to embrace death.
It’s inevitable, full stop.
And once you come towards that, you can truly
enjoy
the moment

more and try not to waste time.
Time is very precious.

 

 

 

 

You don't expect a filmmaker or novelist to taper off after they're 40 years old; you expect their best work after 40. I really don't see why that shouldn't apply to popular music.

 

 

 

 

It's important to understand how to live and it's important to understand how to die.

 

 

 

 

I follow my vision,
and if the critics want to argue about it, that's fine. But it's not up to me to stop my artistic flow, and censor myself. And I'm with Pablo all the way on that one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I fictionalize, I draw veils over things - not necessarily to hide the truth but to tell a more interesting story. I believe you have to lie, to a degree, in order to get to a larger truth. I fantasize a bit … that's my process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've got seven or eight guitars of various sorts, including a baritone.

 

The Ferringtons I play are really Strat variations - same basic body weight, 3 pickups - but are more experimental - the blue one has Broadcaster, Alnico Strat and Gibson P90 pickups, and straight-wired volume controls, allowing infinite tone combinations between pickups. But they still sound 'Fenderish'. I still use a '64 Strat and a Kelly 'Tele' with 3 P/Us, and a '56 Tele. My old '59 Strat is very worn and unplayable just now.

 

 

 

 

 

If people call you a rock singer, then you say,
"No, I'm not.
I'm a folk-singer"

and if it was a folk-singer,
you'd say,

"No, I'm a rock singer".

It's somewhere in between I think.

Well, the next record is supposed to be an electric record. And I'm working on that right now. And I'm working on an acoustic record as well. And I'm working on a longer piece, like a song cycle, and that's a commission, so it's for next year. That's a fairly big thing with a string orchestra.

 

 

As a songwriter you always have the last word, which is a great thing, of course. If someone does something to you, their few seconds of thoughtlessness will live on in eternity as a song.

I'm working on a new band album and a new solo album and a kind of musical play that will be premiered next June at Penn State. It will involve a string orchestra, so it's very demanding of my time right now. It's 24 new songs and a lot of instrumental stuff. Having to write string charts is laborious for me. Some of the songs are short, about 30 seconds, and others regular song length. It's an hour plus of music, which is a lot to write. It's a talent contest in Hell. That's all I can say.



Speaking of Grizzly Man, I'm scoring a TV series for Animal Planet on some of Timothy Treadwell's other footage that wasn't used in the film.



 

beeOttawaC 7//05/08

 

beeThe Gazette 6//30/08

 

beeSun AudioFloss 6//08

 

It's been described as the tour from hell, and I wouldn't disagree with that.


beeCSI 6/30/08

 

beeHour 6/27/08

 

beeThe Argotist 6/27/08

 

beeFree Times 6/30/08

 

beeDaily Times 1/18/08

 

I'm an aggressive acoustic guitar player - a rock and roll acoustic guitar player really.

 


But six months became a year, then five, then 10. To have been doing this for 40 years feels quite disturbing actually.

I can't quite grasp it and I almost have to think of it in terms of four years because otherwise I think I'd just curl up on the floor and quiver.

I was in Mexico, and I just got stung on the finger. They are quite nasty on the Pacific Coast. I was very numb. My finger was out of commission for a month or so. It kind of generally incapacitated the rest of my hand, as well. It felt strange for two months. If I had been stung on the foot, I wouldn't have noticed.

 

 

 

I'm a big fan of Teddy's work - he's a terrific singer and songwriter. Kami, who's a singer, has just finished her first album. And now my youngest son, who's only 16 and a bass player, has just done some recording with his band that I thought was really solid. If there was a competition involving those with the most musical offspring, I think I'm keeping up.

 

 

 

I want to stress
that we're not experts
but then, who is?

 

 

My solo show is about 22 songs. I've written 400ish. So there are probably about 150 that I'm not ashamed to play and stand a chance of remembering.

 

 

Now I'm making more of the records I want to make, since there isn't anyone around to argue with me.

 

Life is surfaces and you’re subject to the storms and waves and ripples and all this disturbance; all the inconstancy. You have to dive down deep inside yourself where there’s a calmness and things don’t change.

HPT 9/27/07

Guardian 8/3/07

 

What you believe affects everything you do. Being spiritual is about appreciating life. After all, life is a finite thing. After life there might be someplace else to go ... (but)
being alive in the moment
is being spiritual.


I still don't know what I do, not really.
It just happens.



icWales.co.uk 7/21/07



Properganda 6/21/07


Self-deprecation kind of cuts through bullshit and I love to cut through that. It's no big effort to be self-deprecating.


Patriot News 6/21/07


I still believe music can change the world and will. It's real, and with the media in place, it can still develop a powerful wallop.

 

I'm not cynical about life. I think life is fine and wonderful. But I am cynical about certain superficialities and cliches, including the trite and glossy ways that a lot of music deals with reality.

 

 

 


It's not the kind of business
you retire from, if you can stay healthy.
As long as I can do it, I'd like to do it.

 

If you're going to write about life, then you might as well dig a bit deeper. And if you do, it's more complicated than a Julie Andrews song. I mean, it's a complex world out there. When you say "I love you" to someone, it's because of or in spite of this or that - the human conditions.


 

Some days love is rockier than others. It's a lot of conflicting emotions.
At the end of it all, we're capable of a lot of affection, but sometimes with a price.
There's a lot you have to get through before you get to the good parts.

 

I'm not 22 anymore
but that can be a good thing.

 


I was trying to be sympathetic to the troops. That was also my first interest because I feel for the soldiers who are out there every day putting their lives on the line. That's a terrible situation to be in, a very precarious situation to be in.



Independant 6/1/07



Ents24.com 5/29/07



Uncut 5/07



How can it be
40 years?
It's insane.

 

I think there is a lot of conflict to these new songs -- military conflict, emotional conflict and domestic conflict. There is conflict and, in some cases, resolution. But there is also a kind of sweetness within that conflict -- hence the title of the album.

I like football
or ice hockey.


 

The electric guitar
is a wonderfully nasty instrument
in the wrong hands, and mine
are the wrong hands.

 

 

For some people, their flame burns out in a few years. Some people are very creative when they're young, and then it goes away and is replaced by other things. But some people have a longer shelf life as a creative force.

 


I'm not a gearhead or guitar fanatic at all. They're just tools to me. They can be lovely tools, and I enjoy them, but I'm not a guitar polisher. I suppose I'm a bit detached from the ownership of a guitar. I think of them as functional things.
The Internet makes a lot of that possible. Having a loyal fan base is also very useful to keep me operating; people can find your website, and the venues that you're playing at, the merchandise you have for sale, all that kind of stuff. It's great to be able to reach the audience in a more direct way.

There are tracks that kind of have a bitter sweetness, that deal with lost love or yearning for lovers or those who have died. And on my records, that's all you're gonna get in terms of "sweetness.'
This is not a Julie Andrews record.

 

It's just fiction, but as often seems to happen, you start to meet the characters from the songs.

 

I'm about
life, life, life.



Roanoke Times 11/06


Let's celebrate life instead of allowing it to meander past.


The Hook 10/06



Canada.com 7/06

 

Chicago Tribune 5/07/06



db Magazine 2/06



And they said
I was finished!



Sunday Times 2/12/06



Newsweek 2/10/06



Manchester 2/2/06



Lack of success is a great thing.
I recommend it to everyone.



The Guardian 1/20/06

 

Most nights I have to play Vincent Black Lightning. That and Beeswing are the most requested songs, so three nights out of four I am playing both of those.

 

One of the nice things about being a singer and a songwriter and a guitar play is that you can use all three skills in a song. You can start out singing the narrative and then you can continue the narrative instrumentally. You try to continue the mood of what the song was. If it's an angry song, you can keep playing angry. If it's a love song, you can keep playing a sort of love emotion. If you can get inside the song, if you can absorb yourself in the song it shouldn't be too hard to do.

 

If you haven't written a song
for a couple of weeks,
you get itchy,
you start twitching.


I wish I'd never spoken onstage in my life, though, because there's so much mileage in being the tortured poet. I wish I'd done that, but it's too late to start now. I think it would be spotted as a ruse.

Am I satisfied? No.

 

I've written one song
("Shoot Out the Lights")
which does not rhyme at all,
and no-one seems to have noticed! Another ("Calvary Cross") is in half-rhyme. Those are two of my most-requested songs, so clearly one can get away with it from time to time.
I think the recognized song structures are the default, but it's always possible
to stretch the envelope, and to feel that you've gone somewhere where no one else has gone. There is that beatnik thing where you recite a beat poem over cool jazz but that I would categorize more as poetry with music rather than song.

 

 

Yes, there is snobbery in all areas of music, certainly in the classical and opera world. It's a refined sort of rarified air that they breathe. I think because they're so disconnected from the rest of music that when they try to stray outside of the classical world, they fall totally headfirst into the puddle. When you hear operatic versions of folk songs or popular songs, you realize that these people just have no idea at all how to deal with anything outside of that [classical] world. They shouldn't actually attempt it. It's easier to go the other way, to sing sort of a gruff, half-spoken, half-sung version of an operatic aria and get away with it, because you aren't in such a refined, pretentious stylistic area.

 

Am I a political person? Yes, I am. I think the world is increasingly polarized and it's hard to avoid a political stance these days, and I think that gets reflected in songs, but in the past and on this album, I don't write overtly political diatribes.

 

There are some things I can't find, like when Fairport Convention jammed with Led Zeppelin back in 1970 when the band was playing the Troubadour in Los Angeles. That tape mysteriously disappeared from the A&M Records vault.


Herald 10/18/05

 


I'm not a
mainstream writer.
I am what I am.
I don't play in
one of the popular styles of music.
I don't play white blues or white
soul music.
I'm not Eric Clapton.
I'm not Sting
.


Times Online 7/30/05

 

I want people to come to my music without prejudice. I want them to get the music first. And who I am isn't that important. If they like the songs to me that's a good thing.

In every area I see room for improvement.

 

Am I the only one here in black again? Am I the only one filled with Nordic angst?
Bleak is good!
Happy songs are OK, if it's something you're dancing to, but listen to Julie Andrews all day and it might drive you nuts
.
I write maybe
16 good songs a year.
Being in a rock 'n' roll band you get to meet some real characters. A great pastime in a bus or plane is to recount tales of excess or debauchery. That's part of the fun.
They don't want frills in the way. They don't want the glossy, hi-fi production. They want to hear the squeaks of fingers on strings, and, dare I say, the cock-ups. So that's what they're gonna get.
There’s a bit of the suburbs in me that I can’t quite get rid of.
I'm a huge ice-hockey fan

 

Folk rock, who knows or cares?


Innerviews 3/05


I'm probably having more fun than a lot of other people.



OC Weekly 5/04


Music Show 4/24/04

 


I'm always accused of being obsessed with death and doom.

 

The Age 4/16/04


NPR 11/16/04




The Union 10/2/03


Metroactive 10/2/03


The Guardian 9/16/03



I'm not
a rich rock
'n' roll star.


VH1 5/12/03


CNN 5/9/03


Cucamonga 3/3/03


Roots Music 3/03


OC Weekly 2/28/03


BBC 2/13/03


The Guardian 2/7/03


Paste 1/03


beeThe Independent 1/03

A song like "Dad's Gonna Kill Me' really started out as an interest in the soldiers and the kind of phrases and jargon soldiers were using in the Iraq war that I found quite interesting. There were phrases like "Dad's gonna kill me' and "Dad's in a bad mood,' referring to Baghdad. And that was the starting point for the song, in sympathy with the soldiers primarily, trying to see the war from the GI standpoint. It's only later that my own viewpoint becomes clearer and it becomes more of an anti-war song. But I think it's still too subtle to be any kind of an anti-war anthem.


OC Weekly 3/15/02


PTimes 5/01



Acoustic Guitar 2/01


Dirty Linen 2001



Across the Pond 6/00

Memphis Flyer 3/6/00


I'm an old
vinyl head.


City Paper 10/99


Acoustic Guitar 1999

Salon 8/31/99

 

Nature is my escape. Just the gardening at home, hiking up in the hills, flying off to a rain forest somewhere.


Salon 1996


Metroactive 9/19/96

 

Interview 12/94


RockNReel 1992


It's hard to tell where one tour ends and the next begins. I'm generally touring most of any year. I'm just generally out there doing it.

 

Innerviews 5/22/91


When you stand up acoustic in front of an audience, you really are a man without any clothes on. And that can be fun -- it depends how much of an exhibitionist you are, I suppose. I quite enjoy it.


It's an honour to have this job and, to me, the greatest thing is to be up on stage and to feel that connection with an audience. It actually doesn't matter how big that audience is, as long as you get the feeling that there's that musical communication there... that mystical thing that happens in a room full of people. Music is played, things change subtly. It's a beautiful thing.
It's just a need.
My intention, really, is to write fiction. I sit down to write, mostly, to amuse myself, to enjoy the writing process.
I try to look for the good in everybody, regardless of the way they're labeled.
People want to hear about the extremes of human nature. They want things that are larger than their own lives, and more romantic, and not necessarily of their own experiences.
smile, smile, smile.
I'll try to imagine something and see what happens. But it usually winds up being about something fairly concrete and close to home.
I probably wrote three-quarters of the songs without an instrument in my hands.
As the writer, you’re always a presence in the song. If you get close to what human beings are like, you’re writing about common experience. We all do much the same things, so if you nail somebody, then you’ve also nailed yourself.
But music can save your life sometimes. It probably saved me from working in a bank or something. That's a kind of salvation right there.
Popular is a tricky word. People in large numbers don't always have the best taste. I prefer to concentrate on songs that are deserving, but slightly too arcane to be in every household -- the also-rans, the misfits, the hidden jewels.
I try to make songs visual and tactile to kind of put you into the action.
Imagining playing the guitar is a slightly looser thing than playing it. You can hear more things sometimes. The fingers of your imagination aren't quite as hidebound as your real fingers.
All audiences should be slightly off balance.
Art was my favourite subject at school, and to me the Who were like an art project...
What I wanted to hear didn't exist, so it was necessary for me to go out and create it.
Well, first of all it's entertainment. That stops us becoming too pretentious or thinking we're great artists.
How much more can I wring out of myself?
I don't know.
But I think I've got the craft a bit better now.
You're often playing a character that isn't really you, but it is you. I use cinematic techniques and the first person; it gets you into the song quicker and gets you out quicker. What you leave out is suggestive. You describe a small part of the whole and suggest there's more.
Music is a great healer, a great diffuser of things like racism. It cuts through boundaries, and it's a very positive force in the world.
I like to sit and watch TV while noodling on the guitar, because sometimes your fingers just discover things by themselves.
It's amazing what some
people read into songs.
I take notes all the time, too. You know, something terrible happens to you, and you think, "Bastards. I'm going to write a song about that." And then you do.
Pretty soon I’ll be ready for
light opera or something.
There’s a part of me that wishes I’d never said one single solitary word on any subject publicly. Then I could have been the tortured poet, and there’s so much mileage in that. But it’s too late to stop now.
I’m not necessarily telling the truth.
I suppose the mindset for a band show is more that you overpower the audience. That sounds rather totalitarian, doesn’t it?
I just like to entertain myself by sitting down and writing songs.
Amplifying acoustic instruments more than a little is really cheating, and everything becomes a compromise.

To stand up on a stage alone
with an acoustic guitar requires
bravery bordering on heroism.
Bordering on insanity.

Before the gramophone you heard about the murder down the road because it was sung as a ballad.
I feel very privileged.
Playboy were compiling their millennium issue and I got a call with lots of other musicians to send in what I thought were the 10 greatest songs of the millennium. And I took this very seriously. I took this literally as 1000 years and I started in 1000 AD and worked my way through. I don't think they were amused and they certainly didn't print my selections.
"I'm using the past as a kind of reference, but I am writing about things that mean something to me now."
I have to remind myself
not to set boundaries.
I have crappy high street amps and unflattering small studio monitors, and everything sounds better in the car.
I like the idea of playing
in unison with yourself.
A lot of what I do is play guitar in the structure of a song. As I write a song, I'm trying to find a way to play it. Sometimes that means I really have to push myself to find a new technique to play a song, to look for new tuning perhaps, a new fingering that I can't really do. That's always a good way of pushing myself.
The best thing
you've got going for you is
individuality.
The thing I do, really, is a communication with audiences more than any achievement through records.
I’m always making a conscious effort to be viable and accessible.
There was kind of an imagination there, and also a kind of sense of humor.
I have to admit, I am really only qualified to perform about 10% of the material in the show. But I can't think of anyone who is qualified to do the whole thing, and there is some comfort in that. I mean, have you heard Pavarotti sing Love Is Like a Butterfly or Those Were the Days? Or Michael Bolton sing Nessun Dorma?
You want the audience  to be uncomfortable.
 
 
 

I don't have a message for the world.