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FemaleFirst.co.uk: David Gray Interview
Monday, October 05, 2009
By Ruth Harrison
October 5, 2009
David Gray is perhaps better known by his head dancing and the album White Ladder, which my dad played over and over when I was growing up. But as he prepared to unleash his new recording, Draw The Line on the public, I caught up with David to find out what he’d been up to during his break.
Hey David, you’re getting ready to release your long awaited new album Draw The Line next month, can you tell us a bit about it we‘re excited!?
Have you heard it yet? [No] Great, I can just make it all up then! Haha! No, it’s full of energy and it’s got a different mood and attitude to it than my other stuff. I took a wrecking ball to what I had before and built everything again from the ground up in the time that I have taken.
This has given the music a new lease of life and where my music has been a little introspective for a while, with this record it has changed and it’s much more outward and extravagant. It’s just very direct so it doesn’t say ‘please be quite and listen to me’ this just comes right at you, I’m looking the world squarely in the eye on this record.
The new single from that is, ‘Fugitive’, so why are you releasing that track now?
Well it wasn’t really down to me, everyone was in agreement so if everyone agrees you can either think that there’s something wrong of they have a good point, and everyone loved that song so we decided to start with that one.
It’s got Annie Lennox guesting on it, who is a favourite of mine… what was it like working with her?
She was super-positive and there was no ego or nonsense with her, she just came in and gave it absolutely everything. She sings on Full Steam, the last song on the album and she just lifted the whole thing right up. She has so much zest and energy in her voice it was just brilliant.
Now, you’re so well known for the album, White Ladder, which is the biggest selling album ever in Ireland… do you think you can replicate this with the new record?
Well, I think we’ll just have to wait and see, I think the world has changed a lot in the past 10 years, so whilst White Ladder sold nearly 3 million copies in this country alone, but now, I think the equivalent of that would be to sell 1.5 million, and in the numbers game that everyone plays, I don’t think it’s going to make the same mark, it’s not the same kind of record.
This one has a lot more attitude and a lot more edge, but I just think it’s going to register a lot better with everyone and change the perception of me. I don’t think that White Ladder will always cast a shadow across my career because it was the moment that everyone got to know me and took me into their hearts, it was a very mellow record which was really easy to listen to, but this one is more challenging!
It doesn’t go on some crazy deviation but it’s a little more cerebral and thoughtful, but measuring everything against White Ladder it’s obviously going to be a miserable failure! Haha, no, it could really astound everybody and become the record of the year. I think it has something special and there is something in the air at the moment and things look as though they are coming together.
So do you think the changes that have taken place in the record industry since you’ve been away have been for the better or worse?
Well, it’s to see a plus side to all the downloading - as a musician it’s my job to sell records, but in terms of getting your music out there, it’s never been easier. There is more music out there and more people listening to things - so technically, the value of music has never been higher, but the price has never been lower.
It‘s really due to the growth and competence of the music industry itself which totally didn’t see it coming and was too busy thinking of other things and shot itself in the foot about a dozen times.
So the digital world doesn’t care one way or another about nurturing talent of making sure the artists get their fair share. It’s a bit of a tough situation at the moment, but I am lucky enough to have made some money and got my foot in the door back when the whole thing was working along a fairly traditional lines.
For a new band now, the margins are just tiny, and trying to get yourself launched onto a world stage is a really tough job. I can see it all collapsing into rubble, and then something will be built instead. It’s in a process of dismantling itself, it’s not being rebuilt as yet.
So, if you could recommend just one song from the new album - excluding the lead single - for us to download so that we want to hear all of your music, what would it be?
I guess, because I know you’re an Annie Lennox fan, I’d say to download Full Steam. That’s the one I would start you off on, and then I’d take it from there!
You’re also going to be doing three live dates in support of the release, why did you only choose to do three?
This is just a teaser! I’m just playing a few shows to put my face around a bit! I’m obviously going to be touring on a much bigger level later on, this is just the start. We do want to play a few shows everywhere though, were going to Ireland, we’re going to Europe, America and Australia, so the tour is being kept short so that we can put our face around.
If I was contemplating coming to your show or sitting at home and watching Big Brother re-runs, how would you get me out of the house?
First of all you need to stop watching Big Brother! It’s like brain rot! Haha, then get on your bike and get yourself to Manchester!
We’ve got to admit you’re a little bit awesome, so what advice would you give to someone just starting out, knowing what you know now?
It’s quite difficult to give advice as everyone’s situation is different, but you have to be thick-skinned and follow your heart and your instinct and keep putting it out there because something will add up somewhere and someone will make a connection. That’s how I think it works anyway!
So who did you look up to when you were starting out?
Bob Dylan is probably my biggest inspiration. But I love bands like The Cure and The Smiths, but that was when I was about 16 and 17. But Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Van Morrison have all had a lasting effect on me.
Okay, now we want to ask you some random questions;
What were you doing last night at 11?
I was tending to one of my children who had woken up in a state of upset. Either a bad dream or something.
What’s the last film you saw & what did you think of it?
I think it was Anvil actually, the documentary, I thought it was brilliant! It made me cry, I thought it was a really heart-warming story so I loved it a lot. It was in the Spinal Tap kind of role but it was very moving to see them put their necks on the line and then it all come good at the end.
What’s the last thing you bought?
I’ve just bought a sandwich, does that count? [FF: Yeah, that’ll do] I splashed out as well, I has a Florentine and a café latte.
Ooh, you can tell you’re going up in the world!
Well we’re in London at the moment, it’s very sophisticated and you have all these options when you go outside! It’s not just a barm cake with a spoonful of egg mayo in it!