The Exclaim! Questionnaire
Who are you?
What are you up to?
I’ve been in Africa working with Malian musicians. I’m part of the way through making a record of that. All my stuff is back in Mali at the moment. I’m going to try and finish it off. I’m helping Gorillaz out as well. I’m busy, you know?
Hometown and current HQ:
My hometown is London. Current HQ? I’m all over the place. Iceland this weekend…
Dub. I’m really into King Tubby.
Mind altering work of art:
I’m into having a young daughter, so I’m into Dick Bruna and Miffy. I think it’s quite mind-altering, or I choose to see it that way. (Dick Bruna does children’s books and the main character is “Miffy.” Kind of a ‘Hello Kitty’ style cartoon character.)
Most memorable/inspirational gig:
One of the first Buena Vista Social Club gigs in London, at the Barbican. I just cried with happiness for virtually the entire show. It was amazing.
What should everybody shut up about:
I don’t think people should shut up. I think people should talk more.
My greatest strength is being able to be ahead of the game, and my greatest weakness is losing interest just when it’s starting to pay dividends.
Vital daily ritual:
I like to get through about four or five pieces of fruit a day, and beet root juice and goat’s yoghurt, and the rest of it is just pure unadulterated self-abuse hedonism. Oh, and lots of water as well…
Oh blimey… I’m not prepared to divulge. But yes, I do feel guilty about some of the things that give me pleasure.
If I wasn’t playing music I would be:
I would be very depressed.
Most memorable day job:
I was very lucky in that by the time I was 20 I was a fully paid up member of the musicians’ union earning a living from music. I went to college when I was 18 for a year, then dropped out. So really there was only one year: I worked fast food, and as a night barman in a hotel in West London, where people like U2 used to stay. I learned a lot about the late night habits of rock stars, before I became one. It put me in quite a good stead – I avoided a lot of the clichés – but not all of them….
Best/Worst advice received:
Best advice was from a member of the band Can who said two things when I had tea with him in Cologne two years ago. He said “look at your 20s as being a very public period at college and learning – now you’ve graduated” and he also said “the future is in creating yourself in a virtual sense.” I love it – you spend an hour with someone, and they very subtly tell you exactly everything you need to know about the future – your future!
Worst advice would have come from someone who used to run my record company who told me there was absolutely no market for English sounding records back in 1993. He said “Parklife” was commercial suicide.
I would drop everything to play a benefit for:
Mali. I’d drop everything to play a benefit for the people of Mali. But I tend to feel that before you commit to something, it’s good to know what’s in their heads. Gratuitous charity work is really quite destructive, in itself.
What makes you want to take it off and get it on:
A good clear sky where you can see all the stars and the moon.
What personal trait would make you kick someone out of bed/band, and have you:
At some point, everyone in my band has portrayed particularly unpleasant traits, but the point is finding ways to get over all of that shit.
When I think of Canada I think of:
Music and sex: is there a difference? Why?
One you make to make out to, if you know what I mean.
Strangest brush with celebrity:
Sitting with Tony Blair (British Prime Minister) in his office drinking a gin and tonic with him sitting in front of me and his spin doctor right behind, mouthing responses to my questions to him. This was just before he got into power.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead:
I think my mom just wishes I was a little bit more organised in my home – a bit tidier. But apart from that she’s pretty happy with everything I do.