|Easyworld interview | Middlesbrough Empire | January 2003|
“We’re in the latter stages of the demoing process, so it’s a case of looking at the songs we’ve got and constructing the album therefrom.” Dav says. He hesitates. “Is ‘therefrom’ a word?” He grins: “I like it. I’m going to use it more!”
Dav is obviously pleased with how the new album is sounding and is more confident about his songwriting this time around. “I think I like a lot of stuff on the new album more,” he says, explaining: “A lot of the time it’s a bit more to the point and a bit more daring. Sometimes on the first album you’re scared to maybe use certain expressions or certain lines that you want to as you think they may be construed as being cheesy or a bit too full-on. So because it’s the second album, you don’t feel so much pressure and therefore I feel that some of them are a bit bolder and that the songs are stronger for that. I’m very fond of I Don’t Expect You To Notice. I like Til The Day very much as a bunch of words and, as a very simple idea, All I Can Remember. I think there’s only about eleven words in the whole song, but they’re the right eleven words.”
The band are fairly pleased with how 2002 went. “Well, we aimed to live through it,” says Dav, “and we managed that, but there were a few close calls! I think our aims for it were pretty modest, really; I don’t think we had any expectations to have great chart placings or anything just because of the nature of the band. Name a guitar band that actually goes into the Top Ten. It would be naïve of us to think that people buy records because they like them.”
The trio agree that playing Reading festival was a particular highlight of 2002. Dav continues, “And I thought that the first headline tour we did was brilliant just because we’d always been a support band and you walk onstage with absolutely no expectations of you; you don’t have to have people come to the gigs and you don’t have to be particularly good. So the first time we did a tour and there was no-one to hide behind was a new experience in the sense that we weren’t prepared for it and there was no-one to look at and blame. If anything went wrong, it was all our fault, so the fact that it went so well was brilliant.”
We’re sitting in an Empire dressing room so cold that sultry bassist Jo is still wearing her winter coat, while ever-smiling drummer Glenn has become a little over-friendly with a portable radiator. Luckily, Arctic temperatures aside, the band are extremely impressed with the “Victorian theatre” of a venue which, according to Dav, “oozes atmosphere”.
And Dav knows exactly what he hopes to achieve with his music: “I want to write songs that I won’t be embarrassed by and that are not there to be fashionable and to sell records, but where hopefully in ten years’ time people will be able to dig out their copies of This Is Where I Stand and the new album and actually think ‘yeah, it was good then and it’s still good now.’ I’d like to think that what we do is make some honest, well-crafted, well thought out and well-presented nuggets of contemporary art.”
Dav’s admiration for Shakespeare is well-documented. Does the articulate frontman think that contemporary pop songs like Easyworld’s can be compared to his work or considered as a form of art?
“I don’t see any reason why not,” says Dav. “The reason being, when Shakespeare was doing his stuff that we now consider incredibly highbrow, the audience were peasants, really. It was entertainment for the masses. So, similarly, you could argue that Gareth Gates and Will Young are comparable to Shakespeare. I would, of course, say they’re not because if you look at it for what it is, what they’re doing doesn’t matter and won’t be remembered when they’re gone. It doesn’t have any kind of enduring importance. I mean, it’s a business and when music is a business, I don’t think it is art. It’s Coca Cola, it’s Dr Pepper, it’s McDonalds; it’s a brand name, it’s a product and it’s there purely to make money. The making money comes first whereas, when it’s art, the art comes first because it’s born out of expression or out of some kind of need to put something out there. I think pop music can be art, so long as it’s created as art and not created as product.”
The band’s U Make Me Want To Drink Bleach single infamously had to be shortened to Bleach and was, ridiculously, banned from daytime television and radio for fears it would prompt imitative behaviour. Recent Top 40 hit Junkies, meanwhile, was altered from Junkies and Whores; perhaps Easyworld ought to consider writing songs with more obviously poppy titles?
Dav is adamant. “No,” he jokes. “Every song is now a four-letter flurry! There are no swear words in the songs, but the titles are obscene!”
And a potentially trickier question to end with: Where and when did Dav misplace the letter ‘e’ from the end of his name? Di’s theory is that Children in Need were formerly called ‘Children In Ned’ before the selfless Mr Ford kindly donated them a vowel.
“It used to be ‘Comic Relif’ and I did a similar thing,” says Dav, once Glenn and Jo have stopped laughing. Then he explains: “What it was is, my name’s David – obviously – and I never liked it ‘cause it always seemed a bit rubbish, really. I mean, no-one’s called David, are they, apart from David Bowie, and he’s allowed to get away with it.” He names David Hasselhoff to demonstrate his point further. “See what we’re getting at? And then Dave’s like the name of a builder or the bloke down the pub, so that didn’t fit either. But I prefer Dave to David, so I thought I may as well spell it stupidly. It probably needs some kind of umlaut or something.”
“Perhaps you could stick an ‘i’ in it,” suggests Jo.
“Yeah, ‘d-a-i-v’ would be quite good,” Dav agrees.
“Or a ‘y’? ‘Doyv’?” offers Glenn, affecting a Cockney accent as he and Dav repeat it for comedy value. “Awright, Doyv!”
“It’s quite funny,” says Dav, “’Cause people think I’ll be offended if they call me ‘Davv’ or ‘Dave’ or things like that, but I absolutely don’t care. I figure if you’re going to be stupid enough to spell your name stupidly then you’ve got to be all right with people not pronouncing it in the way you intended.”
That’s fair enough, I say. As long as you don’t mind.
Dav grins evilly at me. “Absolutely not, Dowan!””
Huge thanks to Dav, Jo and Glenn and to Richard, Jo Griffin, DJ and Doug. Special thanks to Fred and Frank. Easyworld split in 2004, but visit www.DavidFord.mu for more on Dav's subsequent solo work.
© Record Overplayed, 2002-2016.