lunedì 17 novembre 2008

Intervista: Seasick Steve

Seasick Steve Interview
Clash Catches Up With The Three Stringed Wanderer

Date Posted: Wed, 24/09/2008 - 11:59

Its been a whirlwind rise for Seasick Steve. His history is well documented, from hitching trains as a former self-proclaimed Hobo to selling out London’s Albert Hall for what looks set to be one of the shows of the year, the lone bluesman is back.
Seasick is a unique and uncompromising star, the kind we’re unlikely to see again; a heavily tattooed, straw-chewin', walking reflection of his lifetime. Clash caught up with the Three String Trance Wonderer to talk about his imminent new album ‘I Started Out With Nothin’ And I Still Got Most Of It Left’, roaming free through life and his liking for math-pop outfit Foals..
Firstly, where did you record the album, and was it fun to make? “I recorded it out in Leaders Farm, in Norfolk. It was great because you could stay out there. But honestly,I’ll tell you the truth, my wife was working’ in an old folks home- workin’ a horrible job. So I tell her I can’t make a record in my kitchen was really a plot to get my wife outta that job, and it worked you know..then when we went out she realised she didn’t wanna work that job no more. Then I went down to Nashville to mix it.”
I like movin’, Living free..
Having performed most of your previous albums alone, to have people like Nick Cave and KT Tunstall wishing to appear on your new record must be a strange turnaround? “Yeah it was, but it was fun too. I didn’t wanna make the same record again, I wanted to do something different, but I just make what I wanna make and hope people like it. The first thing you gotta do, Is do what you wanna do. I just follow my nose to make myself happy you know.”
You and Nick Cave both seem to have the blues running through your veins. Did you notice a kinship between Cave and yourself? “I didn’t know who Nick Cave was! I don’t follow music so good, but a year ago I got to open for Grinderman (Caves second band). I really liked the band, then after we played someone suggested we do some music together. I think they rock more than almost anybody.”
You also recently played with Level Devils. How did this come about? “Me and my wife moved over to Norway about seven years ago, and I met these guys from Sweden, so I just said ‘hey man you wanna make a record with me?’ we did. But then I had a heart attack, and I got real sick for a while. Didn’t wanna play no more. Oh yeah, that made me straighten my programme right up.”
Becoming an established act must have had quite an impact on your life, what has been the most life-changing element to becoming a cult icon, if you will?“Well, nothing really. I mean, making some money I guess. It’s just good to have a reason to play. Before, the only reason I had to play was to entertain my dogs (laughs), and now all these people wanna come see me. You’re playin’for them, but all these people are giving you all kinds of feelings back. It’s incredible; I’m on the winning end of the stick. An old guy like me gets to come in and play to all these young people, it's an honour. I just don’t wanna be boring, then I’ve done my job- otherwise I’ll just go home.”
Given your change in circumstances what is it that draws you back to the American south of your youth?“I just can’t think of nothing else. Everytime I write a song, it’s just what comes to my head. I travelled for so long and lived rough, but I don’t know why..its just the way I write.”
With songs like ‘My Youth’, would you say this is your most reflective record you’ve made so far? “Yeah. You just start to think about your life, and when I wrote that song I was thinking ‘wow boy..there went your life’. When you’re young you’re just so busy doing what you’re doing,when you get older you have time to think. I don’t have so many regrets though, never go backwards. I’m grateful to be alive..It’s just a strange thing when you look back on a long life..”
At what age did you become aware of Blues music?“My dad- he used to play a lot of Boogie Woogie piano. That was the first kinda stuff I heard. But I didn’t even know ‘Blues’, as a term, until I was a teenager I don’t think, even though I was always surrounded by it.”
Why, given the changes in music over the years, do you stick to the Delta blues style?“I didn’t even know I played Delta blues style, but people point it out to me (laughs). I didn’t even know I played the Blues really, it almost seems a bit more Country to me. But the blues is a term I shy away from, I think most people think of the blues as pretty know, all these bands playing Stevie Ray Von covers in smoky bars. But that’s why I think people like Jack White are so cool, he’s introduced more people to the real old blues than anybody..”
I recently saw a short film about your tour bus, which I thought was great.. Do you still have it? “Oh yeah, I still have it. I went up to Glastonbury in it,and I just took it to Ireland last weekend. The old wood stove is still going inside.”
I was thinking ‘wow boy..there went your life’
Having lived in over 59 houses, where has been your favourite place to live so far? “I don’t really like livin’ anywhere..i like movin’, living free. We rented a house up in Norfolk, but I’m not there very much. I’ve been moving a lot since I was a kid..”
Is it true you produced endless amounts of Grunge bands throughout the 80’s? “Yeah, in the 90’s. I had a studio when I lived in Washington, and did lots of bands. I did Modest Mouse, produced a couple of their records, and went on the road with them playing guitar. There was a lot of good bands around for a while, it was really interesting.”
Who are your favourite acts? Are you a Leadbelly fan? “Oh Yeah, he’s right up there.. He’s not my favourite though, I like Blind Willie Johnson, Charlie Patton, Son House, they’re all very raw..”
Are there any new acts you’ve been listening to recently? “Mystery Jets, and The Raconteurs are one of my favourite bands too. I like bands that I believe they believe in what they’re doing. You can tell, you know. If I get the feeling they’re just fooling around, I ain’t interested. Mystery Jets, and Foals too, I watched them both twice. They’re really interesting..Special.”
So Will There Be A Foals / Seasick Steve Collaboration In The Future?
(Laughs) “I don’t know about that, but I do really like ‘em..”
And with that we leave Seasick to ponder the possibilities of a math-pop/Delta blues fusion. Remember, he hadn’t heard of Nick Cave not so long ago..
Seasick Steve plays London's Albert Hall on the 1st October '08. His new album 'I started Out With Nothin And I Still Got Most Of It Left' is released on the 29th September

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