DAVE STE­WART

DAVE Ste­wart ( pic­tured) is noth­ing if not pro­lific. The mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal­ist, song­writer and pro­ducer found fame as half of the hugely suc­cess­ful duo Eury­th­mics. He has forged a suc­cess­ful solo ca­reer and be­come an in- de­mand pro­ducer, sound­track artist

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - THE BLACK­BIRD DIARIES is out now. Dave Ste­wart and Ste­vie Nicks are on at the Der­went En­ter­tain­ment Cen­tre, De­cem­ber 10.

Life after the Eury­th­mics.

Q. You are an ex­cep­tion­ally busy man. How do you find enough hours in the day?

A. It all seems to flow to­gether some­how. I don’t tend to look at things as work – I just look at them as jum­bled up be­tween what’s hap­pen­ing in my life per­son­ally and what’s hap­pen­ing in my mu­sic. For­tu­nately, I find it very easy to switch be­tween projects.

Q. The idea for your new al­bum, The

Black­bird Diaries, came when you bought a vin­tage gui­tar. What hap­pened?

A. This gui­tar be­came some sort of Ex­cal­ibur. I was stuck in that vol­canic ash storm in Europe a few years ago and I didn’t have a gui­tar in my ho­tel room, so I went to Den­mark St in Lon­don, that has been for­ever the place to buy sec­ond­hand gui­tars, and I bought one that looked re­ally un­usual on the wall and when I played it, it sounded dif­fer­ent from any­thing else. When I got the case, in­side were the doc­u­ments of the guy whose gui­tar it was originally and his name was Red River Dave, who was an ec­cen­tric coun­try and western singer.

Q. It’s very much a coun­try and blues al­bum. Were those early influences of yours?

A. My cousin started speaking with a Mem­phis twang when he was about 14 and none of us in the north­east of Eng­land could un­der­stand it. When he was 18 he was liv­ing in Nashville and has lived there ever since. He used to send me and my brother blues records and that’s when I started learn­ing the gui­tar from peo­ple like Mis­sis­sippi John Hurt, Robert John­son, Howlin’ Wolf. So this al­bum was great be­cause I landed in the cen­tre of Nashville and the great­est play­ers and it was sec­ond na­ture to them to play along.

Q. How did some­one who learnt to play blues gui­tar achieve fame as a synth-pop pioneer with Eury­th­mics?

A. We had come out of punk mu­sic and into post-punk and the idea of a gui­tar band be­came ob­so­lete in my head be­cause it had been wiped clean by the sheer force of punk mu­sic. So I started play­ing around with drum ma­chines and syn­the­sis­ers and cre­ated the Sweet Dreams al­bum. But the next al­bum al­ready had me play­ing the Gretsch gui­tar and an or­ches­tra on Here Comes the Rain. Then by the third al­bum, there was R& B on Would I Lie To You. It was re­ally the first al­bum that was about 70 per cent elec­tronic.

Q. There is a co-write with Bob Dy­lan on the al­bum. What’s it like to write a song with some­one who is such an icon?

A. It’s just be­ing around him and watch­ing him write songs and jam­ming with him and go­ing on trips on canal boats and gen­er­ally just hang­ing out. I in­tro­duced Bob to the idea of Tom Petty and the Heart­break­ers be­ing his band and then George Har­ri­son was stay­ing in my house for a year and the Trav­el­ing Wil­burys pretty much formed in my back gar­den. So I wasn’t ter­ri­fied to write with Bob.

Q. Hav­ing worked with Joss Stone and Ste­vie Nicks, as well as with Su­perHeavy, what do you look for in a col­lab­o­ra­tor?

A. I don’t ac­tu­ally go out look­ing for them. It’s more peo­ple I re­ally get on with and ei­ther I have a mad idea or they have a mad idea. Ste­vie rang me re­cently . . . we al­ready knew each other from the ’ 80s. I sent her the idea for a song and she wrote the verses on top of it. Joss Stone I met when she was 15 and I recorded her for the Al­fie sound­track and we have stayed friends since.

Q. How do those col­lab­o­ra­tions com­pare with the chem­istry you had with An­nie Len­nox?

A. Even col­lab­o­rat­ing with An­nie for 10 al­bums, ev­ery al­bum was a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause we were in a dif­fer­ent part of our lives. When we started off we were liv­ing to­gether and when we ended up we were mar­ried to other peo­ple and had chil­dren. So we went through a whole curve that I think not many peo­ple have done. We are linked for­ever through all the stuff we have cre­ated to­gether but I’m do­ing my thing and she is do­ing her thing and that’s good.

Q. Do you need to have a trust or a friend­ship with your co-writ­ers?

A. Ab­so­lutely. Whether you are cry­ing or laugh­ing or fall­ing about on the floor, it’s based on some kind of trust.

Q. How did the as­ton­ish­ing ar­ray of tal­ent in Su­perHeavy come to­gether?

A. I had an idea for a fu­sion of strange mu­sic and cul­tures. It all came from me be­ing in Ja­maica and hear­ing these sound sys­tems blast­ing from dif­fer­ent vil­lages. So I rang Mick [ Jag­ger] and he was very in­ter­ested and we met and ex­per­i­mented a bit and he said ‘‘ this could be good – let’s ring some peo­ple’’. Q. What does each mem­ber bring to the ta­ble? A. A. R. Rah­man brings so much – from mas­sive or­ches­tra­tions to his singing power. Damian Mar­ley has a huge knowl­edge of all sorts of Ja­maican rhythms. Joss brings ev­ery­thing from be­ing a tech­ni­cally bril­liant singer to a com­plete scream­ing wailer. Mick brings all his his­tory and song­writ­ing prow­ess. It’s amaz­ing.

Q. With so many strong and suc­cess­ful mu­si­cians in one room, how do you man­age the egos?

A. I think ev­ery­one walked in and thought ‘‘ OK, I’m not the boss here’’. Ev­ery­body just hung their egos up at the door and started to take a role as a band mem­ber.

Q. How has the re­ac­tion been to Ghost the Mu­si­cal since it opened in Lon­don last month?

A. It has been a huge smash. Peo­ple are cry­ing their eyes out.

Q. What can we ex­pect from your shows with Ste­vie Nicks?

A. I’m go­ing to do a mix­ture of Black­bird Diaries and some of the other songs I have writ­ten since Eury­th­mics but done in the style of my new al­bum. Then Ste­vie will come on and I will play four or five songs with her too. It’s a good bal­ance.

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