I’ve never met David Ford in-person before but, after reading his answers to this interview, I’d be glad to buy the first pint when it comes time. What is it about British people, conversation, and writing that makes them so unique and inherently interesting? It can’t simply be the “ou” they use when spelling “favourite.” Perhaps it’s because there is usually no fear of hearing the word “SWAG” or whatever bastardized hip lingo we’ve come up with over here in ‘Murica. Damn… I love it when my mind takes a left turn off the Concentration Bridge.
Anywho, David Ford’s remarkable ability to fly under the radar, given his vast number of releases, frequent touring, and glowing reviews, makes his mission all the more intriguing. While most musicians strive to achieve as much commercial success and as many magazine covers as they can, David Ford does what real musicians do: They write and perform, letting the songs do the talking. Kudos!
Lucky fans and inquiring music aficiandos in the US and Canada may have caught David in the month of June. Anyone in between will just have to settle for Youtube clips for the time being, but hopefully that will change in the near future! During his June run, I caught up with David to ask the usual blitzkrieg of questions I ask when getting to know a touring musician, with delightful results and a prize-worthy quote at the end.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! For our readers who may not have heard of David Ford before, please feel free to introduce yourself and give us some background as to who you are and what you do.
D- Hello everyone. I am an Englishman who writes songs and performs them with dangerous levels of commitment.
G- You are currently touring in support of your latest release, Charge. How has the reception been to the new songs, and have you noticed any fan favorites off of the record?
D- Reception has been very positive and the new songs have slipped alongside the old ones like long-lost friends. Audiences seem to like Every Time a lot. It gets very loud and features the standout moment from an illustrious career of yelled cuss words.
G- Hahaha ok! Can you also tell us about the recording process for the album? Where did you record it, who was behind the boards this time around, and how long did the release take to record and get ready for release?
D- I recorded the album at home in Sussex, in a small basement under my living room. It was a solitary pursuit that I completed in sporadic bursts over the course of 18 months or so. When I had taken it about as far as I could on my own, I sent the session to my friend and studio genius James Brown in New York. He then beat my limp recordings into the muscular mixes that you hear on the album.
G- How has you reception been in the states, and how does it compare with your performances abroad, both in terms of how you play and the audience reaction?
D- In America, I get to enjoy the novelty factor. I speak differently, spell words differently, don’t understand references to baseball or ‘80s sitcoms. This appears to lend me a certain degree of foreign mystique that I don’t get in England.
I think people in America presume that I tour the US because my fame is too large to be contained by my tiny island home. Ironically, in Britain people presume that I leave home to tour in North America because I’m a big-name celebrity over here. I’m quite happy for everybody in the world to think that there is some other place else in which I am kind of a big deal. Meanwhile, I am free to go blissfully unmolested through the supermarket aisles of the world.
G- What was your first concert? Can you tell us how old you were, where it took place, and why it was or was not important for you?
D- My dad took me to see Dire Straits at Woburn Abbey, in what was essentially a massive field in Bedfordshire when I was about 13. I really loved them at the time – still do, but in a different way.
I don’t remember much about it. I was half a mile or so from the stage. I can’t say it was the life-changing moment that a first concert ought to be. The experiences that drove me to become a musician were much smaller, like accidentally walking into the rehearsal of a covers band playing an REM song and thinking that these were the coolest guys in town. They were not. But, this was part of the long and never-ending learning process.
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
D- I try not to have favourites as such, but “State of the Union” from my first album has been a good old friend. It was that song and the accompanying video I made that created the small wave I have been riding ever since. I must have played it live hundreds of times and enjoyed every single one. If a show is not going well and I still have “State of the Union” to play, I know it can still be a great gig.
G- 4 albums every fan of you should know about and why. Go!
D- Born to Run. Bruce Springsteen’s great wild sweaty masterpiece of fist-pumping aspiration in the face of everyday adversity. The finest inspiration if ever you need it. When I listen to this album, I am invincible for the rest of the day.
Mule Variations. Tom Waits casually shows planet Earth at the turn of the century that when it comes to writing songs and communicating emotions and making a terrifying racket. Nobody in the world can touch him.
Desire. Bob Dylan goes weird and totally pulls it off. At the peak of his songwriting powers, Dylan presents some of his finest works with the sound of somewhere between Nashville and Marrakesh and makes it sound 100% authentic.
Face Value. Oh what might have been. Phil Collins’ debut album is a rich and complex collection of innovative recordings and brilliant songs made before he reached the fork in the road and chose what was, for me, the wrong direction.
G- Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future?
D- Not really. I don’t like the idea of getting too close to the music that I love. I want my favourite artists to remain mysterious and God-like. It would break my heart to find out that Springsteen is a regular guy who is prone to the frailties of humanity, forgets things, sneezes or uses the lavatory.
G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
D- In Boston, I played a show at a venue that had two rooms. Each room had a gig that night. The two rooms were separated by a very pretty but distinctly flimsy crushed velvet curtain. In the small room was me, while in the big room was a performance by The New York Dolls, turned up to eleven. After a while, I just started playing along with their songs since there was no way of making mine heard. Every time they finished a song, I would have a few seconds to get one of mine in.
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
D- Don’t think too much about “making it”. It’s a term that doesn’t really mean anything. Just be the best at what you do and try your hardest to keep getting better. Fame and fortune should be an accidental side-effect of excellence, and not the measure of it.