Water­boys still on the crest of a wave

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - ART & MUSIC -

Ahead of The Water­boys’ two Dublin shows, Mike Scott tells Barry Egan about grow­ing older dis­grace­fully and some epic ses­sions

MIKE Scott has a per­ma­nent spir­i­tual sparkle in his eyes. And out of this sparkle, he trans­mits a kind of punk mys­ti­cism. That mys­ti­cism in his mu­sic is what makes Scott stand apart from many oth­ers in his line of work. You know he isn’t fak­ing it. This isn’t, to para­phrase Don­ald Trump, fake mu­sic of the soul. He means it and as such, it means some­thing to the lis­tener. The Whole Of The Moon (“I pic­tured a rain­bow/ You held it in your hands... I spoke about wings/ You just flew”) is on a par, in my hum­ble view, with Bob Dy­lan, or Leonard Co­hen, or Patti Smith. If in 1985, Rolling Stone mag­a­zine called him “the new poet lau­re­ate of rock ’n’ roll”, imag­ine the magic jour­ney his cre­ativ­ity has brought him 33 years later; imag­ine where he is now.

Magic Mike and his band The Water­boys play Vicar Street in Dublin to­mor­row and Tues­day and are plainly in a golden mo­ment. “We’ve just fin­ished work­ing on the next Water­boys al­bum which will come out in 2019. I can’t de­scribe the sound but it is a col­lec­tion of what I hope peo­ple will think are the best new songs I’ve ever writ­ten,” Mike says of the band that he formed in 1983 in Scot­land (and where in Ed­in­burgh, on De­cem­ber 14, 1958, he was born).

“We’ve just hired a new man­ager, the Amer­i­can Danny Gold­berg, who man­ages Steve Earle and in the past has man­aged Nir­vana, Ste­vie Nicks and many other artists. He’s very ex­pe­ri­enced and su­per­cool,” Scott con­tin­ues, adding: “I’m work­ing with artist Sean Dan­co­nia on the cover [of the new al­bum]. I love his mon­tage pop art work. Dublin singers Jess Kav [of Barq] and Zee­nie Sum­mers both fea­ture on the al­bum. Dublin bassist Aongus Ralston, the funki­est man in Ire­land, plays through­out. Wick­ham, Brother Paul and Ralph are there as al­ways, the stead­fast rocks of the band.

“I won’t premiere any of the new songs on this tour be­cause I don’t want to have them filmed and posted on Youtube ahead of the al­bum but it’s tough be­cause I’m itch­ing to play them.”

Who has Mike been vib­ing to of late? “Mu­si­cally, I’ve been lis­ten­ing to The North Mis­sis­sippi All Stars and the re­cent very great in­stru­men­tal al­bum by African drum mae­stro Tony Allen,” he an­swers, be­fore con­tin­u­ing as per­haps only Mike Scott could... “I’ve been read­ing about Brian Jones, Sam Philips and the mu­sic of Mem­phis. In re­cent dreams, I’ve joined the Rolling Stones, coached Liam Gal­lagher on back­ing vo­cals and — as I of­ten do in my dreams — turned up to play big gigs only to find there’s no PA/ no au­di­ence/ no band/ I’ve for­got­ten all the songs. This never changes, but for­tu­nately only hap­pens in my dreams. I’m grow­ing older dis­grace­fully, feel­ing like a teenager as I ap­proach my 60th birth­day, wear­ing sharp suits and a va­ri­ety of cul­tur­ally bois­ter­ous cow­boy hats, not at the same time.”

Did The Water­boys re­ally play a gig that lasted seven hours in Spid­dal, once upon a time? “No. But we played long ses­sions. I’m sure some of our ses­sions went on longer than that. And on our way to Glas­ton­bury in ’89, trav­el­ling with the Room to Roam line-up — Sharon Shan­non in the band — plus our sup­port act Cooney & Be­g­ley, all in one mini­van, we played a ses­sion that lasted from late break­fast at the Ox­ford ho­tel, all through the jour­ney across the West Coun­try to Glas­ton­bury, the long slow chug through rev­ellers from fes­ti­val gate to the artists’ area. Then a cou­ple of hours in the back of the van be­fore we even got out, then sev­eral hours round a camp­fire be­hind the Pyra­mid Stage, all with­out stop­ping. Must have been 10 hours of mu­sic. That’s the long­est I think. On tour in those days the ses­sion would be hap­pen­ing back­stage, we’d break to play the gig, then restart the ses­sion back­stage af­ter­wards.”

The Water­boys play Vicar Street in Dublin on De­cem­ber 3 and 4.

Mike Scott and his band The Water­boys are plainly in a golden mo­ment.

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