Record Overplayed
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Easyworld interview | Newcastle Cluny | 13/08/03

"This isn't rock and roll, is it?"

Interview and Photo by Dawn

Perhaps it's the Anthony Perkins fan in me, but as Easyworld's ever-smiling tour manager leads me down a short flight of creaky wooden steps into a sparse, unlit room resembling a cellar, I half expect to find Norman Bates or his mother lurking somewhere in the Newcastle shadows.

It's something of a relief, then, to spot a seated Jo and Glenn through the darkness, and to discover that the only unusual sight which lies (literally) within is a horizontal Dav who, in attempting to rid himself of a 'beastly' headache, has sacrificed the room's blazing fluorescent light and taken up residence on the floor.

 

Having successfully negotiated my way around the prostrate Mr Ford without treading on any of his limbs, the interview begins.

The trio's second album Kill the Last Romantic is, according to Dav, due for release at 'an unspecified date we believe to be January 2004'. In the meantime, songs from the LP have been previewed on tour, with their less brash style sparking lively debate among fans of debut release This Is Where I Stand; the shift of emphasis towards more subtle, intricate tracks like Til the Day rather than bold and bouncy anthems like Bleach has, it seems, split the Easyworld devotees straight down the middle.

'The thing is,' Dav's distinctive voice drifts up from beside my feet, 'if you write what you mean and write what you want to write - the stuff that is coming naturally - then you can't be wrong. It's impossible.'

While admitting that the new songs might not be to everyone's taste, he reinforces the band's confidence in the strength of the new album: 'It's possible that everyone will hate it and that no-one's going to 'get' it, but to me that doesn't equal backfiring. I'm perfectly prepared for the fact that maybe all the people who liked our first album will hate our second, and that would be unfortunate and it would be sad, but I think our second album's very strong and it's not about gaining fans; it's about making good music. And the whole thing about good music is, to me, the only person whose opinion is important is my own. And that may seem like a very elitist and very selfish way to look at it, but if one has pretentions of being an artist then really the whole point is to put forward the vision of the artist.'

Dav certainly isn't a musician who will write to order: 'We're not making suits here,' he says. 'We're putting across ideas and hopefully doing things with a bit of honesty to them.' Even if this isn't always the most popular choice? 'One of the things about being honest is that it's not always what people want to hear. I'm not saying that people won't want to hear the album, but I do understand that, in the old days, some people liked to go to Easyworld gigs, jump up and down and get drunk.' He smiles wryly. 'You know, I'm getting too old for that. I can't jump up and down like I used to.'

Glenn peers down at him, still flat on his back on the floor. 'You're just dead aren't you?'

'Exactly,' replies Dav. 'Laying on the floor with a headache - this isn't rock and roll, is it?' He glances up at me, his striking blue eyes sparkling mischievously as he adds, 'I should be hanging out the back with a prostitute right now' and I can't help but think that's the last place you'd ever find him.

Though fiercely proud of his work, he remains refreshingly realistic when it comes to the task of introducing live audiences to the new songs. 'You can only do what you do - put forward what you want to put forward and hope that people like it, rather than trying to judge their reaction. If you did, you'd become paranoid and constantly change things for the perfect gig, but it's not the perfect gig for you; it's the perfect gig for some human being who doesn't actually exist and is just an amalgam of all the other people who've reacted in some way to the gigs that you've done. If you try to please all of the people all of the time, you will die sad, lonely and very, very confused. I think the best thing is if you're honest with yourself and if you put forward what you believe to be the best you can, then everyone can either take it or leave it.

'Having said that, we do keep an eye on audience reactions and I think much of it has been good for the new stuff. I certainly think that as we get more used to it and as we find the right way to play all the new songs, I'm sure that there are a lot that are going to be people's favourites. I think that the quality of the writing, the performance and the recording of our second album is superior to our first one.'

The first real illustration of this will be October's 2nd Amendment single which, although previewed at gigs, will sound very different on CD to when performed live: 'On the album there's a lot more layering,' explains Dav. 'There's lots of keyboards and where on some tracks there'd be an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, a piano, a Hammond organ, a Wurlitzer, drums, bass and 15 layered vocals, you just can't physically do it live.' Thus, for future tours, they may acquire an extra pair of hands onstage. 'It's getting quite tiresome the fact that, a lot of the time, because we can't make the richness and the width of sound that we want to make, we just have to turn everything up and make it loud. Sometimes that can be exciting and sometimes it gets annoying because you need the delicacy and you need the subtlety and you need some intricacy going on, rather than just volume.'

And, before we escape from the depths of The Cluny, a final mention of the forthcoming single - possibly the band's poppiest release thus far? 'I don't know if this is going to sound overly impressive,' begins Dav, 'but to me it sounds like a mid-Eighties, east coast USA rock-pop tune...'

'It's not going very well so far!' jokes Jo.

Dav tries to explain. 'For me it's very much in the mould of Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan - but when they were doing short-sleeved t-shirt rock. That's what it is to me.' He looks thoughtful. 'But at the same time, it's a bit...'

'It's Leo Sayer,' offers Glenn.

'Yeah, it's that kind of thing,' Dav agrees.

July's tour saw him sport a cowboy hat for the performance of the track in question, so I suggest the introduction of a Leo-esque perm for future gigs, and Glenn's eyes light up.

'I'll work on it,' says Dav, thoughtfully running a hand through his short hair. 'Give me a couple of years...'

Many thanks to the ever-lovely Dav, Jo and Glenn, and thanks also to Jo Griffin and Doug. Easyworld split in 2004, but visit www.DavidFord.mu for more on Dav's subsequent solo work.

 

 

 

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