It Comes From The Heart (2003): A Dave Couse Interview of Paris Review Proportions

I met Dave Couse in Ryan’s of Sandymount on April 2nd 2003, just as his first solo album Genes was coming out. The resulting interview was published in Hot Press but a lot had to be omitted. You have about 1200 words in a two page print interview and you have about 15000 words in a ninety-minute Couse conversation. It is rapid-fire stuff and I was transcribing for days. We both thought there was good material that we had to leave out so we published the transcript on his then-website designbyte.net/couse, only for it to disappear during a site redesign at the time of his next record The World Should Know. I didn’t keep a copy of the transcript, so disappeared I thought it was until Paul McDermott quoted from the piece last week on the I Want Too Much episode of his fantastic podcast To Here Knows When. Paul has bewildering internet archaeology abilities—he somehow remembered a comment Dave had made about the ranking of A House records (“I suppose our three albums would be I Want Too Much, I Am The Greatest, and No More Apologies”), remembered this comment was from an interview of mine, and figured out how to find the quote and piece here. So I’m really grateful to Paul for finding this. I think it is a nice interview. I did OK in the conversation given the ridiculously high esteem in which I held and hold Dave Couse, and Dave was in generous reflective humour right from the off. I have posted here everything that was on the old Couse site. I considered editing it down a touch, but figured if you are at the end of this paragraph you are already in pretty deep, so I left it all in. I did want to mention that Martina Brady, Dave’s wife, about whom he speaks here with such love and appreciation, passed away in 2013, just over ten years after this conversation took place.

If you have read the necessarily truncated version of this interview in Hotpress, you know that Dave and I met in early April in Ryan’s of Sandymount, the pub near his work that his father Greg Couse used to frequent. Greg died last summer and Genes is dedicated to him. In fact Dave’s disarming first words to me, as we stood on the street having just met for the first time, were “I cycled over thinking it might be a nice idea to do it here. The old man’d be with me, you know?”

Before we begin, a correction, to make a point. Early enough in the interview I asked Dave about his cover of ‘Close Watch’, the John Cale song that I first heard him do in the Temple Bar Music Centre last year, when I nearly had a stroke I was so happy. Now the penultimate track on Genes, it’s a song of astonishing beauty, lovestruck and grief-stricken, and could have been written for Dave Couse’s voice, so my question was: how can your own songs here match up to this perfect thing?

Of course he had an answer, and had I waited a week longer in the company of the LP the question would have been redundant—play ‘For Sale’, ‘I Almost Touched You’ or ‘Everybody’s Got Their Own Troubles’ a few times and come back to me—but the episode illustrates a couple of critical constants that have resurfaced in the reviews of Genes: Subtle songs are never given their due, and quietly happy albums are inevitably minor works. “Low-key” is faint praise.

It’s not that I could not have imagined Dave Couse equalling John Cale’s finest hour. It was ‘13 Wonderful Love Songs’, not ‘Close Watch’, whose words were inscribed in diaries in my late teens. Never was I, and never again will I be, so sharply pierced by a song as I was by ‘When I First Saw You’. But these were grand operatic cries of anguish, easy to feel and recognise and relate to. They’d have you in tears from ten miles off. The new songs are different: time has passed and Dave Couse has no business bemoaning unrequited love anymore. He’s writing about his baby and his wife and how your feelings for your family and friends fulfill you: you live for them. The songs are appreciative and affecting. And the hardest thing to do is write a song about contentment and not cause a mass coma.

I don’t mean to criticise critics—but I don’t want Ian O’Doherty to be the only one saying that this is Dave Couse’s best work. If you can compare these things, which you can’t. A House fans fucking worship that band, and I think find it difficult to imagine anything up there with I Want Too Much. I know I did. And the songs of Genes will not have you in tears. These songs don’t pierce your heart: they fill it.

Dave—You said that you walked in here and you felt your dad.

Oh yeah definitely. The last few times I’ve been here, you know what I mean? There’s a real sense that he’s here. You can hear him laughing. That’s the kind of character he was. He was very sociable. You could imagine that his meetings with all his mates would pretty much revolve around him. That’s the kind of character he was. So I get a real sense of him. I haven’t had that since . . . since the day he died.

How long is that?

It’s about ten months now. It takes a long time to settle in. The realization of the whole thing. There’s no songs written on this album about that situation. That will be next. It takes that long for your feelings to become… to become sensitive to those feelings, even. You’re just left numb when something like that happens. In the next album he’ll be featured in the way of a song. This time all I could do was honour his memory with the idea of it. The whole genes thing.

Is that his face just as you open it up?

No . . . it’s the second one. He’s the second one, as a 21-year-old man. The man with the banjo in 1900 is my grandfather; 1935 is the old man. Then me in ’64 and then there’s my daughter.

I didn’t even know you had a child until today.

It’s the weirdest thing about life, death and birth; it’s a very scary thing. When you realise that, because up to now, life’s just great, you just doddle along; you’re in your twenties, you’re in a band and you’re touring the world, it just seems…  great. Let’s have some more of this! Until you realise the bigger plan, you know (laughs). That you’re only here for a little time, so try and make the most of it, I s’pose. You hear people saying it all the time and you go ‘Oh go on, go away out of that. I’m infallible, I don’t die!’ Then when something like this happens you realise you do. You’re next.

Well there is that about it. There’s no longer a generational safety net.

That’s it, you see, yeah, I don’t have a buffer zone any more, you know what I mean?

Will you write songs about your dad?

Oh, undoubtedly, yeah. I’ve already written one, in my head. Got a lovely little title for it and everything. Yeah, I mean it’s a big thing, I’ve never ever experienced anything as big—well, the birth of my daughter was pretty massive. Add it all together, not long after that he died, it’s a pretty bizarre experience. To have two such massive events so close together focuses you as a human being. I mean, I was a no-nonsense person anyway; I’m undoubtedly that now. Because you realise what life’s about, when something like that happens. And as I said, here, I can feel him in the place, and it’s amazing really. I used to pick him up from here every now and again, bring him over to his mates at Christmas. So I remember him from here as well.

I was wondering if you had a physical memory of him from here.

Oh yeah, lots of them. And he’d always have stories from here, and conducted most of his business from here. It was one of those things, you’d sit in the back garden and he’d give you all the stories about Gus Ryan and all that kind of thing. Just his life, you know? And now that he’s gone . . . and then the strangest thing was, I was going down to the girls, and I had proofs of the artwork in my bag, and I had taken them out, just to check them and look at them, and it was like I brought him back in for one last look, if you like. Because unfortunately, he had a long illness, he died of cancer, it took a long time, it was pretty horrible. But it was weird when I took out these things and . . . there he was. Back, and I know it was only a photo of him, but he was here again.

I couldn’t cover it because I was too close to it. All I was, was numb, you know. That’s all I felt from it. You have to get in touch with your feelings about something like this, something as huge as this; and realise what the loss is. Exactly what you want to say. I know what I want to do now. I think you must cover this. That’s what music’s all about. If you’re lucky enough to be able to do that, to express your feelings in song, and make an emotive song about it that might touch somebody else, somebody else may empathise with the way you feel or the words—I mean, Jesus, that’s great.

And are these feelings you can express in song? In words?

Yeah, they are. Always simply, as simple as possible. You just blurt out what’s in your head, right, and then try and tidy it up a bit, so it’s not written by a four-year-old. You’ve just to tidy it up a little bit, but the honesty has got to be at that level, like a four-year-old, nearly, because young kids have this amazing knack of honesty, which I’ve found with our little one. They don’t hold anything back at all. There’s a beauty, and freedom, and strength. I always try to apply that, well not always, ’cos sometimes I do wordplay and all that nonsense, but always, on any album, there would be songs where the lyrics were incredibly simple. A song like ‘Satisfaction’. “Loving you is easy, and that’s the way it should be.” It’s almost a Westlife line. Obviously it’s in the delivery. The hardest thing in the world is to write a simple lyric and make it not sound embarrassing.

The same thing, when I wrote ‘For Sale’, for Eva. I remember seeing her for the first time, when she was born. That’s what ‘For Sale’ is about. I just felt this bang. If you listen to the lyrics, it’s all about: seeing you now, the whole world is here for you, and it’s my responsibility to look after it for you, and if you just hold on to the truth, and love, and passion, you’ll get through life. Without preaching to the child already. ‘Now listen!’ The child’s still red, you know. Blue! ‘You listen to Daddy!’

It means, now that I’ve seen you I will never ever be the same person again. So as long as I am here on this earth, it’s always going to be there for you, no matter what. Under any circumstances. People say that, and believe it or not, when it happens, you become a bigger person. They say that. I don’t know if I have or not. I try! I mean life is so simple. We complicate it.

How old’s your daughter now?

She’s two and a half. There’s four generations of the Couse family in the hundred years. I’m sure it’s the same in most families. It is fascinating, really. And the artwork is built around the whole idea.

Fergal did all that, didn’t he?

He did, yeah. That’s totally, totally personal to me, which I could never do with A House, obviously, representing a band. But when you’re doing a solo thing, the freedom that you have, just to be totally yourself, is great. You get to veto everything—I like that, I don’t like that! It doesn’t have to be passed by this, or passed by that, which is of course the strength, though, and weakness of a band. You need a leader in a band, obviously, to guide it, but it is a band. A voting thing, nearly, you know what I mean.

Everything on the artwork—when you pull the disc out, the tree underneath, that’s the tree out my back garden. Yeah, we got a bit anal with it. We gilded the lily! Even, if you look down the side, the spine? A DNA strip. So when you file it, ’cos I have a big record collection, and I never ever end up playing what I go looking for, which is exciting, but annoying at times. I tried that A B C nonsense, but two years later, it’s just back to chaos again. They slip down in between each other, and so I’ve always been fascinated to try and find a way that something will be instantly recognisable. I thought how, and it just happened to be the DNA strip. So I tried it in mine, in a few different places, and, like, from the back of the room, it’s ‘There it is!’ If you look at it you’ll see what I’m talking about.

You don’t have much to do with your time, do you, Dave.

Ha ha, no seriously, ah no. That’s what I’m saying, though, like, every single square millimetre of artwork was scrutinized, and agonised over. It was the same with the music—well, the music wasn’t as much, really, to be honest. That moved at a nice quick pace. Edwyn likes to work that way, and so do I.

You were saying this is more personal than A House.

Oh yeah, completely, it’s completely and totally personal. 100%, like. It’s all about me. Even the trees. The family tree. It’s getting out of hand. Even the 1’s and 0’s on the disc itself, that’s the binary code, which Ferg thought was, like, the genes of the computer age. I thought ‘I like that idea!’ We actually had to stop at some point. ‘We’re going to overdo it now.’ So we drew the line. But there’s so many ideas! I’m delighted with the idea, I really am, I think it’s a great title for an album. I mean, the album title is conceptual, but the music on it is nothing to do with it. The music was all written beforehand.

I certainly remember these songs from late 2001.

Yeah, the music’s about a year ahead! I haven’t written a song now in about ten months.

For obvious reasons?

No no, not even that. I’ve been so busy putting this whole thing together. Getting it recorded. Everyone’s been so fantastic that’s worked for me, because they’ve all worked for nothing! Nobody got paid on this. They’re just fans. If you go on to www.davecouse.com (now defunct – NC 2022) a fan did that for me, designed the whole thing—it’s just fantastic. I’ve had so much good will, from fans and from the media, which is fantastic. I did of course have to deliver a strong record. If I’d delivered a weak record, it’d be meaningless, it’d be gone.

It’s a couple of years since we started expecting the record now—since the first return show in Whelan’s.

Well yeah. It was a very slow return. Getting the album finished and written, and getting it recorded! Edwyn’s obviously a very busy man, and again, he was doing it for me for nothing. What a gift! Not only did he give me all his time, and everything, he gave me his studio—with him in it. And all his equipment, and all of his instruments, and everything, and he plays most of them. He’s on this album as much as I am. Which is fantastic! You don’t get friends like that too often.

Edwyn does it just out of love of music and no other reason. He’s certainly not a commercial producer, as such. I don’t think he has any interest in being that. I think he’s a musician at heart. He just loves making music, you can see him, he’s one of those characters. He’s passionate about sound to a point of obsession. He got me really into guitars. He’s moved on now, he’s into microphones. Takes them out of boxes, ‘Dave, look at this!’ I’m like . . . yeah, it’s a microphone. He collects them and he collects all this really old equipment, he got bucketloads of it when it was cheap and nobody wanted it—the birth of the digital age and all that, everyone was getting rid of all their old analog stuff. He collected loads and loads and loads of it and now, of course, it’s coming so much back into favour. He’s the man in town! He’s got all these producers ringing him, ‘Jesus, Edwyn, you know, any chance of borrowing this or borrowing that’, like, so for him to be able to do that for me was remarkable.

’Cos I think myself there’s a beautiful sound off the record, it’s that gorgeous valve clarity. If you listen to all the modern records, the skater boys and all that—even though they are fantastic-sounding records, they do sort of start to sound the same, with digital sound. I think there’s much more nuance in valve music. You can hear it.

Tell me a bit about valve technology. I know nothing about this stuff.

It’s just the old technology. In his control room is an old valve desk, on the EQ there’d only be about three buttons. They all go (mimes turning a creaky old dial) and they’re all phenomenally expensive now. Really, really hard to get your hands on. They just give a real quality. Like everything in the old days. They’re better, they had a lovely warmth. You can push the music much more. There’s much more give in it. I think. It doesn’t distort, you know, it lets you into that territory where digital won’t let you in, where it starts to crack and fizzle at the top.

Is this what Neil Young talks about? I remember him comparing digital sound to sensory deprivation.

Yes, it is, a bit, yeah. A lot of people are very passionate about valve recording. None more than Edwyn. I think I came over to the studio at the perfect time because he and the studio are one, they’re like two people. If something goes wrong he knows what it is, and how to fix it. He knows the full capabilities of the studio. I think if an engineer was to come in fresh, they wouldn’t have a clue how it worked. It just works completely around him. He has learned it and really optimises everything in there. And I just came in with a bunch of songs, and he put the whole thing together.

Now I brought musicians with me, they’re really young guys, they’re 22, 23. I brought them over for two reasons—number one, they’re really really excellent musicians, but their youthfulness too, you just cannot get that off a seasoned hack. It just doesn’t work.

And what were they doing when ‘Kick Me Again Jesus’ came out? Being born?

Well who knows? Dave Couse and sons. Well they’re going ‘Aw Dave, ha ha, you’re 38 now’ and I’m going—Oh yeah? Listen boys, when I was 22 I was going to America to tour ‘Call Me Blue’, so shut up. Puts them in their place quick enough. But having said that—they were willing to leave their jobs, in order to take up the opportunity to go to London, to work with me and Edwyn. And you don’t get that, you know. And again, I think that comes out in the record. Their belief in this and their really wanting to do it. And again, they got paid no money. That youthful exuberance, you just can’t capture it, it’s either there or it’s not. You can hear it on the bass and drums. It’s there, you can hear it, it’s at breaking point, you can hear the keenness, nearly, which you wouldn’t get from a real pro, like. And it’s so vitally important when you’re making a record. People maybe discard that kind of thing, but it’s vital. I think it is, anyway. I could be wrong! I have been before.

That leaves a lot of responsibility with you.

Yeah! I had a huge responsibility making this record too. Because when you’re coming off the back of A House, and some people regard the No More Apologies album as one of the finest albums made ever by an Irish act, it does get those kind of glorious reviews. So when you’re coming off that, it’s a tall order, like, you’re thinking, ‘God, I could do this, I could make an album . . . and it could be piss-poor’. And everyone will go ‘Ah well, you know, there you go, look at him now—it was obviously very much a band situation’… and Dave wasn’t a big part of it.’ So I had a big thing to prove here. And I did! I think.

How do you know that when you’re doing it? That it’s not piss-poor.

You don’t! You have no idea, you’ve just gotta go with it. I thought that I had everything in place, I thought I had the songs, thought I had the musicians, and I needed Edwyn so badly. I had to wait on Edwyn. And finally the whole thing just worked and we recorded it in two weeks. Kind of strange. Just record, record, record the whole time. Fascinating, and interesting, and fun. Recording as it should be. It shouldn’t all be laborious nonsense, you know. You know when it gets too earnest. You can’t wander into that territory, you know, because then you end up just going up your own arse.

But this is an album about serious things. If you can’t be earnest, how does that work?

You see, earnest, when I’m referring to earnest I just mean just taking yourself too seriously, like ‘I’m a real artist’, you know, ‘I’m a cerebral artist, I’m going to take myself very seriously’; you can’t do that. It’s just got to come out of you effortlessly. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. You can either deliver the goods or you can’t. So you just go in there, you do what you’re supposed to do. You don’t take yourself too seriously. You give of yourself. You don’t overdo it. You don’t… 

… gild the lily.

Exactly! That’s OK for the artwork, right? But not when recording. You know, some people have to have themselves in a nice frame of mind, they start a vocal, they go into a certain space, they have to do all this head nonsense. You go in there, you’ve got a job to do, you’re supposed to be able to deliver it. It’s part of your being, it’s what you are. So just get in and fucking do it, like.

You really need to know what you’re doing. You need to know exactly what you’re saying.

You do, yes. You have to know those two things. You don’t have to have an exact plan of where you think you’re going because the music, an awful lot of the time, will just carry you. On the day, you’ll invent a new sound, that will lead you to another thing, and another idea. When you’ve got an amount of creative people in a room, it just keeps going! One thing leads to the next, leads to the next, and you can’t be precious about how you thought it was supposed to be…

You can’t be a prima donna.

Yeah, you can’t. Exactly, you can’t. You can’t be, like, an earnest prima donna! You’ve got to keep running with it. Once it’s going in a direction you like. If it’s turning into Limp Bizkit, obviously, you’ve got to pull in the reins: ‘OK boys! Hold on! I’m 38 here’. But if it’s going where you like…

I’m really, really pleased with it, I have to say. And I love the country flavours on it, as well. The little flavours that come out. Songs like ‘Everybody’s Got Their Own Troubles’, as well, that’s just got a beautiful kind of a Glen Campbell country rip-off. That’s what I said to Edwyn, I said ‘Look, I want this to be Glen Campbell!’ And he goes ‘Oh, I know exactly what you mean, Dave’. And it’s great when you know, and you can get on with somebody at that level. So you go for it. You don’t get it, of course, but you aim for that, and that’s what you use as your goal. Of course you end up with something totally different, but that’s great. That’s what you’re supposed to do.

The vocals, as well, this time round. Before, in A House, I used to labour the vocals a lot. There were perceptions of A House, and we had to deliver a certain thing. With A House lyrics, as well, there’d always be a twist in the tail, usually a negative one. This time round, I didn’t, I had that sort of freedom to be more me, like. I didn’t have to represent anybody else.

But getting back to the vocals, I had a whole new approach. Every single song on that I just sang once. I just went in and sang it, like a singer, like you’re supposed to do. Whereas beforehand, I’d do four or five, compile the best bits of each one, and then repair the last one, say there was a line or two you didn’t like. So what you ended up with was a fine vocal, nicely in tune, and everything in place, but at the end of the day, it loses something as well. There’s nothing like the delivery of one vocal performance. Even if some notes are a little bit flat, a little bit sideways, a little bit sharp, it’s all part of the delivery. Record, stop, and there’s the voice. And I realise I can do that now.

Is that a question of confidence?

I don’t know! I think so, yeah. I’m more confident now, I suppose, than I have been in a long time. I can actually sing now. I never, ever had confidence as a singer, because I’m not really a singer anyway. I’m never referred to as a singer, either, it’s always Dave Couse, the songwriter or Dave Couse, the lyric writer, or the miserable bastard, or something like that. Never EVER as a singer.

It’s great this time around, ’cos my voice is louder than it would have been on A House stuff as well. We pushed it up there, and built the music around it. I did all my vocals really early. We used to always do it the other way round. We’d do a guide vocal, which is an insignificant thing there ticking away in the corner telling everybody the chorus is coming up, here we go into the middle eight section, so no-one really gives a toss about the vocal until all the music is recorded, right, and you go in as the vocalist and sing over this lovely piece of music or whatever. I see now that that was probably the wrong way to do it, because working towards a beautiful vocal is a lovely thing. It’s there, and you love listening to it while you’re recording, so you work the music around the voice the whole time. The voice, in songs like these, is paramount. It’s the most important thing.

And I can’t wait to get on to the next record now. Having finished it, when I finally got this album made, and got it back from RMG and it was in my hands, of course I was so excited that day, because this has undoubtedly been the greatest achievement of my life. Because I mean it’s been so difficult for me to come back, with the pressures I’ve been up against, two failures I’ve had, back to back, and also people would expect a lot of a solo album. But having to form a band, write the songs, find the musicians, find a producer, then put on a business hat and get artwork done, get distribution, manufacture, form a record company, do everything basically.

I am now chief executive of the record company, the CEO, I am the A&R; department, I am the artist. I’m the talent. But I’m also the post boy. Yesterday I got a phone call from the PR people, the Late Late Show need the DAT, and I had to jump on a bike from Rathfarnham over to Donnybrook and back again. It’s just a bizarre situation, you’re dropping the thing in to these people behind reception and you’re the person going on, then, later on. It’s a really weird position to be in and I’ve never been in that. I’ve always been, you know, the star.

So there, again, there’s been a whole learning curve, but fascinating, and really good for you, you know. It’s good for the humility levels as well. It humbles you again and brings you back down to earth. It makes you see, like—I had nothing but disdain for record companies. Now of course I have the greatest respect for them! You learn a lot, like, and you’re much more in touch with the entire thing. Like this interview. Before, I would have had a different attitude about this as well. Whereas the whole thing is the whole, every single thing is vitally important. You must get it all right.

So when I got the album, finally, as I said, it was one of the greatest days ever of my life, but also there was a sense of closure, because now it’s done and I’ve delivered it, I can never go back. And now, I can just start again, because I do want to get writing again. I have lots of ideas. I know where I want to go on the next record. I dream to be able to make the next record quickly, like, get it out within a year. I mean that’s not going to happen, I’m sure. I’d love to be able to do it, and then just move on, do three or four albums as a solo artist, see what happens after that. Maybe call it a day after that. Just leave it. You know, with A House, it was really important that we did a body of work and we had a number of albums and then we finished, and that was it.

As distinct from what? What’s the alternative? Going on and on and on?

Yeah. On and on and on. I don’t think you can. I think it’s very difficult. It’s very difficult to maintain the standards that you set yourself, and I set myself, like, really really high standards. Like, I don’t compare myself to anything other than all the great records that are made. When I make a record I want to make it as good as Astral Weeks or better. I’m not interested in making the new Coldplay album. D’you know what I mean, I want to make classics all the time. When I start out making a record, I’m going for Pet Sounds. I see no point in doing anything other than that. You must reach that high. Whenever I’m in the writing process, these are the albums I listen to all the time. Not for inspiration, but to compare.

And when you put your albums on, when they’re made and they’re finished, do they…

Do they stand up?

Yup.

Yeah, in my eyes, they do, yeah. To the absolute limits of my abilities, when I have brought them as far as I possibly can. I’m not saying I’m any Van Morrison or any Brian Wilson, but…

Well are you? Are you or are you not?

I’m not! I’m not, you know—Brian Wilson made one of the classic albums of our time; but I would love to get there.

The next question then must be: If you put a cover of John Cale’s ‘Close Watch’ on your album, how hard is it for your own songs to stand up?

That’s another thing there, because ‘Close Watch’ is such a fantastic song, that I was under pressure there. I couldn’t have ‘Close Watch’ be the best song on the album. So it was great for me to have it.

That’s tricky. ‘Close Watch’ would be the best song on almost any album.

Yes! It’s a beautiful, beautiful song. I put in a nice treatment to it. I tried to put this big boom on the end of it, just to give it some mark of my own. I think that big end really works. I think if John Cale hears it, I’m sure he will at some stage, I think he’ll like it. It’s with the greatest respect I have treated that song. Lyrically, it’s beautiful. And I can deliver it effortlessly. I sang it, again, once, with Simon on piano. It was done in two and a half minutes, and that was it, then we designed the end around that. Then Edwyn bowed all these weird guitars and I sang into a Fender Telecaster. I was sitting at the desk, I was talking to Edwyn, he was in the control room, and I could hear myself coming back through he guitar. So I started singing ‘Aaaaah’, he fed it back through the amp and that was the noise. That’s probably one of the special moments on the record, when that moment comes in, it’s a great moment and a great, great song. I don’t think that many people get to that level. I still get shivers when I hear the record. I don’t know whether that’s completely arrogant, or—but I know Ferg does as well! He’s told me he does, so that’s OK. But I do think, it’s such a good song. And it’s not the best song on the album.

You don’t think so.

I don’t think so, no. ‘Will It Ever Stop Raining’, I think, is beautiful. ‘For Sale’ is a beautiful song. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s up there. But there are songs there that match it, anyway. And I think if you have a yardstick like that on an album, then you’re always reaching for it. You’re always pushing it.

Is there something about the emotional pitch of ‘Close Watch’ that is easy for you?

It’s easy, yeah. I could identify with that song. I loved it, I adore the song myself, and when I realised I could do it, it just suits my voice. So, why not do it, you know? I never did covers as A House. Well, one B-side, but never on albums. I didn’t need to do a cover on this album either, but it was really good for two reasons. One, it’s a great song, and two, it kept standards up. There may be one or two people who think that it is the best song on the album but, genuinely, it’s not. It’s certainly one of the better, stronger songs. Of course it is, it’s fucking John Cale’s crowning moment! It should be. And it’s never been covered! It’s phenomenal. So when I heard that, I thought, I have to. I’d love John Cale to hear it. He will—I’ll send him a copy of it. There’ll be a small royalty cheque in it for him. I’m sure he’ll be concerned. ‘Here you are John, here’s your fifty quid. That’s more than I got out of the album.’

It’s at an important point in the album too.

You must keep an album strong! You must because a lot of people let it peter out near the end. It’s very important to have a strong ending. To me, an album should be a complete thing. Ian O’Doherty, as he said, ‘Satisfaction’ is as good a choice and as bad a choice as any single can be from this record. And I think that’s a great thing because each track feeds off each other. And it is an album. And I can do albums, ’cos I’ve done them before, and they’re vitally important. And I wouldn’t sacrifice, again, ever, polishing up some song to be a single, have it sticking out on the album. That’s not really that important any more. It’s important that the album is a thing, and it lasts, and it’s really really important that it’s strong enough that people don’t just fucking fast forward to the next track, next track, and there’s four or five good songs on it, I hate that!

The album lyrically works together and musically it feeds off each other, goes in and out of moods. This album definitely starts quite rocky, more like the old days, really, the old A House stuff. I got that out of my system, nearly, the first four songs. And then it moves slower down with ‘I Almost Touched You’ and ‘For Sale’, and turns then, the songs are slower, more country. That’s where it changes, where I change. The album takes a different mood and it goes off somewhere else. It’s great that an album does that. They should. So, I mean the attention to detail is very important… he said.

You talk quite a bit about the difference between now and then, the freedom now and the apparent restrictions on you in A House that we didn’t hear about at the time. I’m always slightly suspicious of comeback interviews like that.

Well I had to represent six people. I mean I couldn’t have done Genes. Think of it! How could I present that album to the boys? Listen boys, this is all about my family, this is all about me, and these songs are completely and totally about my relationship with my wife and my daughter. You can’t do that and so, there were restrictions. You worked around it. You had to represent all the people that were A House.

Lyrically?

Not lyrically. I couldn’t. You couldn’t let it get that personal, you know. I don’t think so. I mean, it did, I did let it get personal on songs, of course I did. Those songs in A House, I mean they are all essentially about me and my life. It is my story, that’s the history of me in there, but within the confines of not being embarrassing for the boys! They had to stand there and do their own thing, with me banging on about songs that were intensely personal to me.

VERY personal. There were songs that were capable of being very personal for me and for people like me.

Well, every now and then, I got into, like, ‘Sister’s Song’.”

But even songs that weren’t explicitly about people close to you. Songs that were about emotions that are close to the bone; that speak to people’s vulnerabilities and do so partly by exposing your own. It’s not important ultimately whether a song is about your personal life, but think of ‘When I First Saw You’. That’s not just something you dream up over a few pints, that’s something you have felt.

Yes of course, it comes from you, it comes from the heart. It’s the truth. That’s what I’ve always done as a songwriter. I’ve always given that much of myself. I must have a lot to give! Six albums later, we’re still goin’. Jesus, how many stories can one person have? You know, you do undoubtedly regurgitate stories, you have to, but undoubtedly getting in touch with your feelings as a writer is, for me, where it’s at, like. Giving something of yourself. I think that’s the greatest thing you can do. And I think if you have the gift of being able to put that into an art form, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do. Just put yourself in there. And people really can connect with that, and they connect with you, and the person, and the lyrics. They may see themselves in there as well, and it really means something to them, you know? I’ve always been that kind of a writer.

So it makes it easier for people to access those feelings themselves.

It does. I think that’s what people like about me, isn’t it, as a writer, is that. You undoubtedly feel, I don’t know, part of the team! A sense of me, they must have that. That’s obviously what they get off it. I presume, I don’t know. I don’t care, really, I mean I do what I do, and I hope that people like it. I mean what’s the point in doing it if people don’t like it? I know people say ‘Oh man, I do it cos I need to do it, and I don’t give a shit if anyone doesn’t like it’. I really hate when people don’t like it! I take bad reviews really badly! Especially from writers that I would respect. If I get slated, I just feel really hurt. Something so personal to you, someone taking a stab at you. I mean, someone referred to No More Apologies  as ‘a mediocre swansong’, you know. And you’re going Jesus, how can you dismiss a piece of work like that, so, so easily.

Because there’s so much in that album, you know. It’s anything but a mediocre swansong. You either hate it or you love it, like. It’s a very polarising album. It’s not mediocre. That’s a really bad word. I don’t mind if someone hates it! If someone hates me, that’s OK. I can live with that! At least it’s a reaction. If someone thinks I’m mediocre, though; patron saint of mediocrity, you know. I don’t want to be him. I hold myself in a little higher regard than that! Just. And with regard to A House, what you said earlier, no! I am so proud of that band. I never ever would diss them or feel that, like, now is the best thing I’ve ever done. A House is still, to me, the greatest thing I’ve ever done. Five albums! To be part of such a great band, as well. I still love playing those songs. I will always do them live. Why would I not do them?

You’re not doing the Morrissey thing then.

No! I love them. They are my words, so why would I not sing them? I mean I’m never going to re-record them, obviously, and I suppose as my catalogue of new material builds, I’ll cut down the numbers. It’s nice to do the more obscure ones, as well, for the fans that come along. I know if I went along to see someone I was a fan of, and they didn’t play something from the back catalogue, I’d be well pissed off.”

The second album seems a particular favourite.

I Want Too Much? Yeah, people love that album. It’s a complete album, you know? It’s like I was talking about earlier on, it is an album, and it all feeds off each other, and it’s got one sound. We went to Inishbofin to make it, we made it with Mike Hedges, and the whole thing comes together. We were, of course, coming after ‘Call Me Blue’ and ‘I’ll Always Be Grateful’, and the record company had no interest in us, and we were only 23, 24, so we had have that kind of youthful angst as well, and something to be pissed off about. We were pissed off at the fact that we weren’t hugely successful! So the only way to react to that was to make I Want Too Much, to make us even less successful. It gave the band, I think, the credibility that we needed to regain. We lost a lot on the Merry-Go-Round album. Then of course Keith Cullen became interested in us as a result of I Want Too Much. Then we went on to make I Am The Greatest. I suppose our three albums would be I Want Too Much, I Am The Greatest and No More Apologies.”

Not Wide-Eyed and Ignorant?

It’s very disjointed. There’s a lot of producers involved. You know, we took on a major record company, and when you take the money, you kind of have to take the shit that goes with it. There were remixes here and remixes there, and try a different producer, and it did lose something as a result of all that. The album did. You know, we gained some really nice songs.

Maybe that’s it. There are moments on it. ‘The Comedy Is Over’, ‘These Things’great moments.

We really tried to make that album work. The songs you’re referring to are the ones that got mixed and remixed, and ‘Here Comes The Good Times’, of course. ‘Why Me’ was another one. These were the songs that everyone thought were going to be big hits. It’s funny they turn out to be big hits later on. Seven years or eight years after the event! Joe Dolan’s done it now, as well, you know. I haven’t heard it, like! I’d be really keen to hear it, I have to say, cos I’ve never heard anyone cover any of our songs.

You’ve talked about ‘For Sale’, about Genes; we’re here in Sandymount because of your dad. As you get older has your family become the thing? Do other aspects of your life fade in significance in comparison?

Well, family and friends, yeah. In that song ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’, I’m just going on about people in general. “Can’t you love him like I love him”, that line, is about a friend of mine, about how much you love your friends, male friends, how much respect you can have for them, and if you see someone treating them badly, you know, it’s upsetting. Again, that honesty. And again, how important people are in your life and that’s really all there is to it, and getting on with them, and standing by them, and having them stand by you. There is a strength that you need to go through life, and generally it is people, and I would hate to be going through this life without people really close to me. It must be difficult not to have people you care about. People who care about you also.

Impossible.

Yeah, it is. But there are people who do it. I’m sure there are. Just live in a vacuum. I’m sure there are, I could be wrong, but I judge the book by its cover quite a lot. I’m very bad for doing that kind of thing. I’m probably wrong most of the time, but you know, I just find it fascinating. Even when you’re sitting in a pub watching people, trying to figure out what’s going on in their minds. What they’re like. The song is all about people, isn’t it, if you think about it. ‘Everybody’s Got Their Own Troubles’. You know, why do you want to be somebody else? What’s the point? There’s absolutely no point. So many people waste so much energy on wanting to be someone who’s richer than them, or lives in a better house, or has a better car…

Surely they’re unhappy.

Oh yeah, of course they are. They’re always wanting more, but they don’t realise that with that more, comes more trouble. ‘Look what that person has, look at them over there’. OK, the guy in a massive big house, with fucking two S-class Mercs outside, I’m sure people pass the house and go ‘fucking lucky bastard!’ I know I do. But when I go past I go ‘Who fucking cares, I’m on my bike. I’ve got my own thing going on’. But there’s some people don’t get over that. There’s people pass that house and it stays with them. And they let that kind of thing eat them up. And they don’t realise, the person in there probably has problems way beyond what they have. That’s essentially what that song is. It’s really simple. “What’s the point in wanting?” There’s none.

And Ferg did the artwork, as well, he’s been very supportive. He always has been. He and I are best friends and have been for years, ever since we were four. He lived right beside me. He has been a great inspiration throughout this record as well. He was always the man in A House with the attitude. He nearly gave the band its credibility. I was always the buffoon. I suppose I still am. He was always the stronger character, quiet. And of course he has been a great support on this record as well. He chose the tracks, he did all the artwork.

He did what?

He chose the tracks. Which songs I did.

Did he?

Yeah. I just gave it to him. I gave him all the demos and he says look, do that, that, that.

That’s a large responsibility to abdicate.

Yeah well I kind of trust him that much, you know what I mean? He’s got a great innate sense of what’s right. And he was absolutely right. Every single track that he chose was undoubtedly the strongest song. So in that way, he’s been a great help. Spiritual help, as well.

Why did you delegate that job?

Because he and I are close friends. We go through everything together. I go through it if something goes wrong in his life, and he goes through it with me. I asked him… I don’t understand…

My question is why would you give that job away at all on an album like this.

On all the A House albums I would write 30 or 40 songs but this time round I didn’t. I concentrated more on the idea, and I binned them as I went along. I didn’t go through the effort of writing all these songs. So I only wrote about 18 or 19. I was doing quality control all along. I got to the stage where I had that many songs and they were all on demo tapes, and at that stage I knew which ones I really liked, but Ferg was there listening to the demos as well. I really value his opinion. So he knew it nearly as well as I did. I asked him ‘Will you put an album together? Out of these songs. I would be interested to see what you would choose.’ So he did. He did that really quickly, and I looked at his list. I didn’t tell him it was going to be the album, I didn’t put that responsibility on his shoulders, I asked ‘What would you put as the album?’ He came back with those thirteen tracks, and I looked at them, and I remember going, Jesus, you know, you’re right. I suppose I must have some ego problem. I probably would have chosen different songs, because it’s hard to admit that one song is weaker than another, ’cos you’ve put so much into them all. You’ve finished them all. Lyrically they were all finished as well. He’s a bit removed, it’s much easier for him to go ‘Well that’s just not as strong, Dave’, you know. Then, looking back, I agreed.

So you’re talking about insecurities there.

Yeah, it is. Of course it is. And it’s great to have someone that you can rely on, on that level. To come up with the goods. So in a way, I mean, he is there still. Because I was so alone, doing the whole thing. And you do, every single day I was stopping, thinking can’t do this, it’s too hard. It was bad timing as well, and I’d come off two failures. I don’t have the strongest nervous system.

The failuresI’m not sure what you mean.

Brianna and Ferg. They never saw the light of day, so I would judge that as being a failure. And, you know, two of them, back to back. It’s really really difficult, where do I go from here? Every day you’re stopping. You’ve no idea what makes you go on.

When did this project begin?

Two years ago. That May gig that I did must be two years ago. Sketches of this album. I only started writing the album a month or two prior to that. Lokomotiv and Brianna took three years between them.

So two years. And there are times through that that you think this isn’t going to work. What got you over those days or weeks?

Well when I realised the Brianna thing had gone, Ferg had spent a year and a half doing this Lokomotiv thing. I thought it was fascinating music. He put it all together on computer, he lifted all these samples off all of his record collection, so it was from him, and the sounds that he loved. He’s very big into a whole lot of guitar bands and rap, and he got very big into jazz, as well. So he just took all those samples and he put loads of music together, and it was fascinating. So I jumped in on that level then. When the thing with Brianna stopped, he was half way through it, so I jumped in, started forming them into songs. That kept me interested, kept me going, kept me open. And I really thought Lokomotiv was going to be something. I knew it wasn’t going to be commercially successful, but I really thought it could be, critically. I still think it can. I really hope that some day it will see the light of day. If I could just get my act together and get something rolling, something happening, get involved again. Ferg wants to make a solo album. And he should—he really is quite a gifted man.

It was a workshop, there were five or six different singers. Brianna was involved in that as well, I did some singing, and all to the backdrop of Ferg’s music, which was really fucking kind of weird, you know. In a really really good way. Very left of centre and very interesting. We messed with the boundaries of the songwriting process, to see how far they could be pushed. And you can push them quite far! On ‘Next Time Round’, the single we got released on Shifty Disco, we put this three-minute musical break in a different time signature in the middle of the song, and it worked beautifully. The song’s 4/4, it’s going along nicely, then all of a sudden it just floats into ¾, which is a fucking waltz! Virtually impossible, you would imagine, to do, and we managed to pull it off. And it goes off into this big huge orchestral arrangement, you know, and massive big Led Zeppelin drums, loads of other sounds, and then falls back into the song again. It’s about 5½ minutes long, and again, it was just a great thing to have done. I remember singing it on New Year’s Day of 2000. I must have been the only person in the world with nothing to do that day. I was up in my parents’ and I remember going down to the house and singing it, ’cos I thought it would be a good idea, actually. First day of the millennium, to sing a song called ‘Next Time Round’. It’s so unusual, and it got really good reviews in England. It was their biggest selling single that year. Shifty Disco are dedicated to releasing a single every week for the 52 weeks of the year. I thought it was a great idea, and ours came in November or October or something, and it was the biggest selling single that they had all year. Couldn’t believe it. Which was fascinating, but they wouldn’t commit to doing the album. ‘Next Time Round’ is rather special. I think the album needs to be finished but there’s undoubtedly an album in there and a really interesting album too. You see, if I was to have any level of success, now, with this as a solo career…

You’d be able to get that going.

I would. People would take it seriously. And if we were to get it finished, and I was to put it out, just get it out, press 500 copies even, just give it to the journalists, even that would be an achievement. Even that is a sense of finishing the project, so it’s out there, somebody’s got it in their record collection and somebody loves it, like. And who knows where it’ll lead to, you know? Unless it’s out there nothing’s ever gonna happen. Hopefully we will get that done, Ferg’ll finish it. It really is interesting because, as I say, I don’t think anyone’s ever pushed the boundaries in songwriting so much. That helped me with this as well, because as a songwriter you gain knowledge all the time. You know the ingredients: obviously, it’s got to have heart, it’s got to have meaning, some lyrics, melody. It’s a very set format. Intro. First verse! Last verse. You know what I mean? The story. The chorus, the middle eight section. So what can you do? It is restricting. It’s a beautiful format, it’s worked forever and will continue to work, on this new record, but we just did everything arse about face. Started with the end. It’s something I’m very very proud of.

There are two tracks on it, the other one’s called ‘Intercourse with the World’. I thought that was a lovely title myself. It’s all about a sad, lonely old bastard. He lives an insular life. ‘These strangers are my only friends’ is the opening line. Again, lyrically, it was a bit left-of-kilter as well.

I would go drinking on my own; I did live a lonely life for a while, for a year or two. While I was writing this album, as well. By choice—I wanted to. I just enjoyed it, you know. I would go to my local there and sit with all the lads, sat there drinking on their own. And just sit there with the paper or whatever. I didn’t want anybody in my life, I was happy with, just, space.”

Is that what ‘Peaceful’ is about? “You know I love you/You know that I do/I just need to be left alone”.

Yeah, I think so. It probably is—it is, really. I love being on my own. I love going out on my own, even. I’m a very contented person on my own. I don’t really need conversation. I find—nights when I’m out meeting people, nights that there are gatherings, I’m uncomfortable on those nights. I don’t know why; I’m just not the greatest mingler in the world. I think, with ‘Peaceful’, myself and Martina have such a strong relationship at this point in time, we know each other. I can say something like that and she won’t get offended. ‘You know I love you, I just need to be on my own’, and there will be no offence taken. Which is, I think, testament to how strong the love between us is. And she knows the song.

So it’s not news to her.

No! And a lot of people, I would imagine, feel that.

But it’s more maybe difficult to accept earlier in a relationship.

But why? I just need tonight, like, you know? Not just tonight, I need a lot of nights, I need time, on my own. I think everyone does, I think it’s a really healthy thing. For your inner peace, isn’t that what we all search for, that?

Has that changed as you’ve gotten older?

I think I’ve always been like that, just never allowed to believe it. I always thought I was a social type of character because, as I said earlier, my father was a very social man. Always the centre of attention. He was always the man with the stories and the jokes. I suppose, on some level, I thought that was me as well. But it’s not, like, it’s not me at all. I was always the focus in the band. I was the lead singer, so the centre of attention was always put on me.

And did you find, then, at times that you would have been touring and promoting yourself, did you have to curl up afterwards? Did it take a lot out of you?

It does. You’re emotionally drained, and physically and mentally drained. And I don’t have, I’ve realised, the strongest nerves in the world. I find it hard sometimes, and I suffer a bit with anxiety, For someone who suffers with anxiety being the centre of attention is not a great situation to be in. Again, maybe that’s that ‘Peaceful’ thing. My life and what I do is a real conflict of interest, because I’m trying to sell myself, as a musician. It’s a bizarre thing to do, because you’re talking yourself up the whole time. I sell Couse. I proof artwork with my name written on it. Like these things, fliers that are going to be all over town, I’m in the printers going ‘Yeah, that looks nice’, and that’s me, you know; you’re looking at yourself all the time. Ferg says to me, “I’m sick of looking at your name and I’m sick of your fucking family!” It’s a pretty bizarre place to be, for someone who doesn’t essentially like being the centre of attention. It’s a conflict. A paradox.

And how do you overcome that?

I can’t overcome it. I can stop making music, and I could go off, but then, after a year or two of doing my thing on my own I’ll go: ‘I really need to make a new album!’ And it starts all over again.

So if you could just make the album and let it sell itself, would you do that?

Oh yeah, oh absolutely, yeah. Really. Totally. If I could do that I would do it. Oh Jesus I would have no qualms, I would love to be able to do that. I would love to take a back seat, be imageless, and be nobody. Just send the music out there. I’d prefer if people didn’t even know what I looked like. Unfortunately, you just can’t do it, it’s impossible. You’ve got to create this image, and you have to look vaguely interesting, because it’s demanded of you, on some level, if you’re going to compete. And I want to compete. I want my music to be heard. I see no point in making it unless people are going to hear it. I’m not that kind of an artist. ‘I don’t care, man, I just make it for myself’.

It is, of course, the whole thing is just a contradiction. Life’s a contradiction. A lot of people, you’ll find, are the same, in the same situation. I mean how easy would it be, I would love to be able to make music and then yeah, great, out you go. But then again in music people want you. People hear this record, they want me, they want to know about me. They wouldn’t accept the record just on the basis of the music. We all do it. Like when I say to Edwyn ‘I want that track to sound like Glen Campbell’, he’s so part of the music, so when I refer to Glen Campbell, I’m talking about the man, I see him, his face, you see the hat. I see him singing the song, the interviews. He is the music. It’s so woven together, there’s no separating it. It’s the same with my music. It has to have a face, and a personality. And that personality’s mine. I’m not moaning here, I’m just accepting that.

But you would imagine that people who write serious songs are likely to be introspective and therefore unlikely to enjoy being at the centre of things. That personality often goes hand-in-hand with social anxiety and self-doubt.

Jesus, definitely. Oh yeah. If there’s anything typical of writers, it’s that every single day is just filled, racked with doubt. It’s very hard not to pass a mirror and go ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ You do, seriously. I can’t imagine any writer thinking that they’re just God’s gift. It is such a fucking weird thing to be doing. There’s no answer, there’s no real way of doing it, there’s no applied science. So it’s a very strange place to be. I take these ideas out of the air and I turn them into something.

In my own way.

Yeah, in my own way. The only way I know how, because there’s no absolutes, there’s no fucking rule book. It’s really really important that you try to be unique.

Surely you have to. You must use your own voice. Otherwise what’s the point?

Well yeah. Exactly. What is the point? Self-doubt is massive.”

There’s no objective measure. No-one who can pat you on the back and say ‘full marks’.

Yeah. ‘Well done. Good job. We’ll sell that, that’s lovely.’ There is nothing, there is no answers, there’s no solutions; it is what it is. But it’s a beautiful thing, now, in fairness, to be able to do that. Because I once—I thought about getting into advertising there for a while. I thought maybe I can apply my skills to making some money for a change. ‘I can write ads!’ I mean Jesus, you know. When I went into these advertising agencies and I met these guys, now they met me for who I was, they knew me. So I sat in these meetings and of course informed them that I thought that advertising was undoubtedly the lowest form of art. Strange I never got taken on! I thought, art is not something that you can be restricted in. If you’re working to a client’s requirements, it’s very very difficult to have the freedom to be artistic. You go ‘Ta-da! This is my idea! That’s it, and I’m not coming up with another one, ’cos I wrote this one!’ Then the client goes ‘No no, fuck off, that’s crap’. You see, I couldn’t take that. I couldn’t take that level of refusal. So I realised I could just never fit in, I could never be in advertising, you know? That would be me, I’d be going, I’ve thought about this, I’ve thought about every single angle, ’cos I do, and this is undoubtedly the best way to go in selling this tin of beans.

Talk a bit about being a songwriter in our economic climate. The rewards are very different to the rewards everybody else has wanted in Ireland in the last ten years.

I’ve never been, ever, money-motivated. Money has always been a means to an end for me. I’ve never ever been impressed by people with money, what it can buy or its powers. I mean, there’s much bigger powers in the world than money. Creating an album is infinitely more powerful. What are you going to leave behind you? Buy a big house, then will it to your family and they become crackheads and spend it all in about four years. End up on the scrapheap.

Now of course that’s a little shortsighted I know! And I’m a very fortunate man in that I have a wonderful wife who has been totally committed to what I do. She has a good job, and she has never once asked me to get a job! Never once, and I’m going out with her now, like, sixteen years. Never once, not even in a row, has she ever turned to me and said ‘Would you ever get a fucking job!’ Which I’m expecting. Any day! And even if she did, I wouldn’t blame her. So money is just a means to an end, and you get to leave something behind you. Like that body of work of A House, you have to be proud of that. What a great thing to have achieved in your life! And now Genes, and now we’ll move on and do something else. And then stop, at 45, and get a job! I don’t think I could get a job, actually, to be honest. I’m unemployable at this stage.

You’re deskilled.

I’m sure there’s loads of jobs I could do, but no-one’s going to take me on. I mean, who’d take me on? Jesus, this odd, quirky, maverick type of character. I mean I couldn’t take orders from anybody, ’cos I’ve always been so much in control of what I do. I tend to be a bit of a control freak that way sometimes. So I would be virtually unemployable, I would imagine. Now mind you, having said that, like, two years from now, I might have to get something. If I can’t do it with music. I don’t see how you can make money. This has cost me so much, even though everyone has done it virtually for nothing. If I was a record company, it would have cost the guts of a hundred thousand pounds. If I was to pay everyone their dues. But I haven’t, I haven’t paid anyone, and it’s cost me a fraction of that, maybe a tenth of that, to get this far—which is a remarkable result. And all credit, I mean, if I ever do get an award for this, I’m going to be up there for a long time! ‘I’d like to thank…’ I’ll do it alphabetically. Having said that, there’s a very short thanks list on the album, and I couldn’t have made the record without those people. My wife, my mother, Edwyn, his wife, Ferg, and all these people who were just so important and played a huge part in it. I mean, without those people where would you be? What’s money, what’s money when you compare it to that?

I don’t know if that answers the question you asked, what’s it like for someone like me at a time that everyone’s got fucking BMWs, you know. I mean I’m 38 and if I’d stayed in normal employment I’d probably be—I don’t know! A successful businessman or something like that. I’d have my top of the range Beamer, you know. What kind of character would I be, though. Jesus!

It begs the question.

I’ve no idea. I think what’s coming around now is, there is a global change, obviously, economically, and money is becoming a lot more tight, right? And I think, now this is my theory—and it could be fucking horseshit for all I know—that music, music does really well in hard times. In the eighties, when it was hard, that was when bands were getting big advances. I was wealthier in the recession than I’ve ever been. Then the boom came in the early nineties and we started running out of money really fast. So I’ve kind of ridden this boom time pretty much as a pauper. So if there is less spendable income for people, to be into music is really cheap! It’s a really cheap hobby. In fairness, say you want to be a fan of mine, it costs you 18 quid for the CD, and 14 or 15 quid to go to the gig, right? So that’s it, you’re done and dusted for thirty fucking quid. Then you wait until I’ve released another album, and say you do ten or twenty people in a year—that’s so inexpensive, isn’t it? And it’s such a great thing to have, for such little money. Sell the BMW, and you could be into music for the rest of your life.

So the economic downturn has its up-side.

I’m praying for a recession, yeah! ‘Please God make the recession come quicker.’ Everyone else in the world is going ‘Please God, Jesus. . . if this recession comes in, I’m homeless!’ I’m going, ‘Make them homeless, Lord!’ At least I’ll be successful!’

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