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You’re back on the festival circuit and are coming to Latitude festival too – is there more or less pressure for you playing festival slots? You’re preaching to some of the unconverted… Well, I don’t think there’s pressure but there is an excitement about it, that you’re out of your comfort zone and to some degree, at your own show you’ve got a lot more control over things; you get to soundcheck, you get to play a whole show to people who’ve paid to see you. Tat’s what’s fun about playing the festivals – you just go out there, cross your fingers and hope for the best.

I wanted to get an artist’s opinion on politics and music – I was thinking about Bono and his apparent tax evasion; if an artist spends a lot of time on the soapbox, are they allowed to choose when to be quiet? Tat’s a good question. I suppose if you’re gonna be very vocal about that kind of stuff then you probably should have to answer to it too.

Is there a wider reason for this World Tour? Are you thinking about writing again? I have been writing and I’m looking forward to some more writing and some recording, hopefully soon. I don’t know when; I know that I’d like to be working on stuff as soon as possible, but I don’t know when the right time will be to put something out.

Tis isn’t as serious as politics and scheduling, but it fixates me – your beard; is it at optimum length? It’s pretty optimum, yeah. I think only once in my life has it maybe been a little bit longer than it is now, but it’s approaching world-record length.

Well, congratulations.

Pretty soon I won’t have to wear pants.

From the Glastonbury coverage I saw, I could see that you were all a pretty hirsute bunch. Is that a pre- requisite of being in the band? Well, I tend to hire the most musicians and I of course know that talent and facial hair go hand in hand.

You have an ever-changing line- up. You had the beautiful hairy bunch with you last night, but what’s the reason for the flux? Well from the beginning I set out to do things that would keep myself interested musically, so from the beginning I set out to have a rotating cast of characters to keep things interesting for me.

Your story could be quite encouraging for artists who peddle their wares for a while without achieving the success they desire as there was a fair gap between your original recordings and the success of Beautiful Freak… Well my first solo release was in 1992 and then there was another one in 1993, so there were a couple of years before Beautiful Freak came out. Tat two-year period was very difficult for me. Te record label dropped me and I could hardly pay my rent and I don’t know how I got through it. It’s amazing to me that it turned out OK.

Is it a strong sense of determination that kept you going, or sheer pig-headedness? It was a strong sense of determination really; I just didn’t give myself any choice, which can be a difficult way to live when things aren’t going the way you want them to go, but then you know, the combination of determination and some luck worked out for me.


It’s interesting that Beautiful Freak achieved more success in the UK than it did initially in the US on its release – what did you attribute that to? Well I think that’s kinda true for everyone’s records, isn’t it? Except for maybe Lady Gaga or something, haha. Te thing is, and this is true of everyone that I know who releases records, that music is just a much more important part of people’s lives in Europe than in America. In America, music’s become a really small part of people’s lives and it’s been replaced by all the other distractions; the internet, TV, video games – anything other than music.

A friend of mine had ‘My Beloved Monster’ as her first dance wedding song, and it seemed like the most honest and sustainable statement of love to choose. Te song is a paean to realism – is that indicative of your view on love? Yeah, I mean sometimes I feel as romantic as the next romantic fool, but to me the most romantic thing is realistic romantic.

Now E, you have a strong relationship with film, from having your tracks licensed for soundtracks, to scoring the entire film, Levity. Does film and music combined create a stronger force than the two separately? Sometimes when it works well, it’s interesting to see the song in a film context. I thought ‘My Beloved Monster’ in the first Shrek film was used really well.

My favourite album of yours is Electro-Shock Blues [written just after his mother’s and sister’s untimely deaths, and looking retrospectively at his father’s], probably because I was introduced to it first, but as I grew older and / July 2011 / 13

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