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David Gray on music, football, James Blunt, Babyshambles and his new musical direction... or not.
John Walshe, 20 Jul 2006
So does he accept responsibility for James Blunt?
“No fucking way,” he splutters. “I don’t take any responsibility for him. I don’t think that’s anything to do with what I do. I think it only works on one level. They’re going straight for the idiot culture tack: it’s instant but there’s nowhere else to go with it. It’s bollocks, essentially, but it suits the time and place and sounds alright in the background when someone’s giving you a Mister Whippy or whatever. It’s fine. It’s having its moment, but I’m not working along similar lines.”
It’s true that Gray’s taut, emotional lyrics are as far removed from insipid Bluntisms as you can get while still wielding an acoustic guitar. The good news is that he’s still as fired up about writing songs as ever.
“I definitely was as fired up making Life In Slow Motion as I’ve ever been,” he stresses. “I was dissatisfied with A New Day At Midnight, so I was fired up to get back to the music. When we came off that tour, it was preoccupying me.
“But when we come off this tour I don’t want to just do the next record on automatic pilot. That’s something that hasn’t been a problem so far but I’m keeping an eye on myself, because your commitment to making a record has to be total. It’s stressful, it’s intense and it’s an all-consuming thing, so you’ve got to be really up for it. I don’t want to meander into the studio to make a record: I’m looking to feel the fire.”
Where that fire will take him for his eighth studio album is still up in the air. He admits that one part of him would love to “do something more adventurous”, while he also has a “hankering to go back to the beginning”, to the stripped-back one-man-and-a-guitar approach that served him so well on his debut A Century Ends.
Reading Bob Dylan’s Chronicles and watching Martin Scorcese’s Dylan documentary No Direction Home have steered him towards the latter genre.
“Listening to Dylan’s early stuff was what changed me, what made me want to do this,” he admits.