[情報] Blur’s Dave Rowntree: ‘I still wake

看板Blur作者 (榭俐霏)時間1年前 (2023/01/17 11:17), 編輯推噓2(202)
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https://amp.theguardian.com/music/2023/jan/15/blur-dave-rowntree-interview-rad io-songs-album-wembley-reunion-gigs 短址 https://tinyurl.com/2dnrhedn Blur’s Dave Rowntree: ‘I still wake at 3am thinking I’ve frittered my life away’ Drummer, lawyer, composer, politician… Blur’s busiest member on the troubled childhood that influenced his new solo album, Radio Songs, and the band’s su mmer reunion gigs Jude Rogers @juderogers Sun 15 Jan 2023 12.00 GMT A couple of weeks before Christmas, and the planning meetings have just finish ed for two of 2023’s most anticipated gigs, by a British band who first rehea rsed together 35 years ago. In July, Blur are due to play two nights at the 90 ,000-capacity Wembley Stadium (only one concert was originally scheduled, but it sold out in two minutes). Their blend of ideas from British pop culture’s past, mixed with the peculiar optimism at the end of the last century, made th em one of the biggest bands of the 1990s; they’ve only made two albums since, both of them tentative, tender but lovely: 2003’s Think Tank and 2015’s The Magic Whip. The day before I meet the band’s drummer, Dave Rowntree, he was with singer A lbarn, guitarist Graham Coxon and bassist Alex James in an undisclosed locatio n in London, plotting the rough shape of the Wembley gigs, with instruments on their laps. “It was good! This is the fun bit before we’re playing the set over and over and over again, staring sullenly at our phones between songs,” Rowntree tells me. On this bright winter morning he is at Tate Modern in Londo n’s Bankside wearing a hoodie and carrying bags of the clothes he has just wo rn for the Observer’s photoshoot. He had his portrait taken in the gallery ne xt to Cildo Meireles’s Babel, a murmuring, ominous tower of a sculpture that he’s always loved, made up of hundreds of analogue radios. Oblivious ageing h ipsters and midlifers, who will definitely have danced to his drumbeats, pass him by. Rowntree, 58, is chatty, sparky and clever, not the wallflower he sometimes ap pears behind the big personalities in Blur. “I’m recognisable if the context is right, like at a gig, but I can live my life relatively unmolested – it’ s not a bad life,” he says. It’s been an extraordinarily varied one, too: he has been a criminal lawyer, animator, flying instructor, Labour county counci llor and prospective parliamentary candidate; he’s also studying for an Open University astronomy degree (“I wanted to find out how the universe works”) and is a successful soundtrack composer, whose credits include Netflix’s sci- fi series The One, the BBC tech thriller The Capture and, delightfully, incide ntal music for the Bros documentary After the Screaming Stops. “I met them at the premiere,” he explains, “and they were brilliant – so funny and really lovely. To go from nowhere to the biggest band in Britain to nowhere again… their story really touched me.” His confidence in composing has also led him to finish his first solo album, R adio Songs. It’s a surprisingly touching collection, its inspirations whirlin g out of fragments from his tough past. These will emerge later in our convers ation up on a high floor in Tate Modern overlooking the city he lived in until 2013, when he moved to a very big house in the country – Surrey – with his girlfriend, Michelle de Vries. Profile Life after Blur: what the bandmates did next Show Of the album’s highlights, Downtown and 1000 Miles recall Blur’s more atmosp heric, melancholic epics, while glitchy, nervy tracks such as Tape Measure see Rowntree weigh up the years (“Look at my life / Measure my time / What have I done?”). You’ve done a lot, Dave, I say. He laughs. “I still wake up in t he middle of the night, at 3am, going, ‘Oh, God, I’ve frittered my life away – what an idiot.’ I guess to be in a successful band, you have to be extrao rdinarily motivated – doing music to the exclusion of everything else, almost from childhood – and that motivation doesn’t get switched off.” If Radio Songs has an overarching theme, it’s how radio changed Rowntree’s l ife, from rare happy moments with his father soldering radio kits at the kitch en table (“The smell of a soldering iron is very nostalgic for me”) to the m agic of music and languages he didn’t quite understand filtering into the hou se from an antenna rigged up in their council house garden. Radio also took hi m away from his mother: “The cleverest person I’d ever met, by some way, who se extraordinary brain came with such downsides, such crippling downsides.” A nd here the real story of his life begins. “It was all quite life-changing, r eally, the radio, helping me dream about life elsewhere, of a world outside th e horrible reality of my life.” * * * He was born David Alexander De Horne Rowntree in Colchester, Essex, in May 196 4. (De Horne is his family’s original surname, from his father’s Huguenot an cestry: “They settled in Yorkshire, where the name Rowntree was as common as Smith, so they changed it to fit in.”) His father, John, an RAF radio technic ian headhunted by the BBC after the war to build its mixing desks, ended up so und-engineering early sessions by Cliff Richard and the Beatles and in the 197 0s he was put in charge of the BBC’s first mainframe computer, for which he w rote early software, and computerised the BBC’s payroll system. “He was the tech wizard of his generation,” Rowntree says, a little sombrely. Then there was his mother, Susan, a former concert violinist who never played a note in Rowntree’s life. Why? “After music school, all that training throu gh childhood, she found that she was expected to be a kind of machine in a sym phony orchestra, transcribing the notes on the page exactly as the conductor t old her to. She wasn’t expected to be in the least bit creative, and she hate d it.” Then there was sexism. “She was a pretty blond woman in a male-domina ted world, with all the bum-pinching and everything else that she had to endur e. She never picked up the violin again. She was very bitter.” Susan ended up as a secretary in the BBC typing pool, where she met Rowntree’ s father. “But all the downsides had started a long time before that,” Rownt ree says. “Basically, I grew up in an alcoholic family.” They ended up livin g on a council estate in Colchester that was built on the town rubbish dump an d began to sink as soon as it was constructed (it was later fixed, Rowntree sh udders, but it’s still there). Being a child in the 1970s, he adds, was also particularly bleak. “The unemployment, poverty, strikes, the economy collapsi ng, a violent time of racism and misogyny. It was just shit.” Rowntree’s song Volcano is inspired by a family photograph that belied the re ality of what was going on: “A violent equation / Whose solution is nil / The pressure of forces / Have frozen me still,” run the lyrics. When you made a success with music yourself, were they proud? He looks blank. “You’re asking the question based on some kind of idea of a happy nuclear fa mily that I simply didn’t have. I don’t even know how to begin to answer tha t.” He’d have been put in care these days, he says. “I’m still quite angry that I wasn’t, to be honest.” Blur performing at British Summer Time 2015 in Hyde Park, London. Blur performing at British Summer Time 2015 in Hyde Park, London. Photograph: Samir Hussein/Getty Images Music – played loud – became a place of rebellion for him. He first tried th e bagpipes, taught by local army musicians (“But you need an adult set of lun gs, so I didn’t get very far”). Turning to the drums, he was soon “farmed o ut” by his parents to a Saturday music school, where Blur bandmate Coxon’s a rmy dad was also a teacher. “Then I just fell in love with playing in a group of people.” Before he started playing with Coxon and Albarn (who moved to Colchester when his father became head of the art college), he was a mohican-sporting, baggy c lothes-wearing punk, playing in “lots of little pub bands” across Europe wit h friends. He wrote a piece for the New European in 2018 about that time, when Britain had not long been part of the European Economic Community. Trade was still “far from frictionless”, and the misery of EEC carnets and unloading e quipment at every border made touring nearly impossible. “All music industry bodies were saying the same before Brexit: ‘We have to address the needs of t ouring musicians in this deal.’ And the government were all: ‘This’ll be fi ne, we hold all the cards’ – blah blah blah.” He’s seething now. “And the y did absolutely nothing.” Brexit is “an abomination”, he says. Does he think that the Tories ignored t ouring musicians because they thought that side of culture didn’t have value? “No. I just think that the people in power had no idea what they were doing. It was this simple: to be a Tory MP, you had to kind of pledge allegiance to the flag of Brexit, even when the vague optimism that somehow everything would be all right had gone way beyond common sense.” We were being flown round the world first class – and coming back to our din gy bedsits with no money to feed ourselves He’s still an active campaigner for musicians: today he’s a director of the trade body Featured Artists Coalition. This interest began in the early days o f Blur, he says, when a poor business deal nearly “finished” them after thei r first album. “And for the first 10 years of Blur’s existence, we barely ha d a penny. We were being flown around the world in first class on somebody els e’s money – well, our money, as it turned out – and then coming back home t o our kind of dingy little bedsits without enough money to feed ourselves.” The same year as Blur’s second album, 1993’s Modern Life Is Rubbish, Rowntre e also quit drinking. Alcohol was taking him into dark places, he says. Still, given the band’s star was rising, quitting then must have been hard, I sugge st. “But I’d seen where that particular road ended, you know, so…” He trai ls off. “The scary thing isn’t where that road ends, it’s the fucking journ ey. It’s not: ‘What if this kills me?’ It’s: ‘What if this doesn’t kill me?’ He then got addicted to cocaine, but has been sober since 2007. * * * In his sobriety, he got more involved in politics. As a teenager, he was far l eft. “A friend told me about Marxism and it was like being told the secret of the universe… but I went rather far down that rabbit hole.” He’s less extr eme these days. I ask which Labour MPs he likes: he mentions Bridget Phillipso n and David Lammy, but then stops himself. “What I should say is: Tony Blair, Jeremy Corbyn, Alastair Campbell, Tony Benn – by which I mean, to get stuff done in politics, you have to learn to escape the camp, get on with people acr oss political divides. It ain’t sexy. Waving the flag, going on the march, bu ying the loudhailer and screaming things might be fun, but that doesn’t do yo ur residents much good.” Dave Rowntree during his time as a Labour county councillor in Norfolk, a posi tion he held from 2017 to 2020. Dave Rowntree during his time as a Labour county councillor in Norfolk, a posi tion he held from 2017 to 2021. Photograph: @rowntreelabour Surprisingly, Rowntree isn’t excited by Labour’s lead in the opinion polls. “It’s taken the most incompetent string of Tory governments with absolutely no redeeming factors whatsoever to literally crash the UK economy for that to happen. That’s how toxic the Labour brand had become.” He likes Keir Starmer (“He’s doing quite well at kind of appearing level-headed and competent”) but thinks Labour needs to set out a solid aspirational vision: “One that dir ects people to a different way of life, where things are getting better again. ” The renationalisation of the railways has been a hugely popular idea on the doorsteps, for instance, he says. “It’s time to admit that the experiment w ith the privatisation of public services has failed.” Rowntree was a Labour councillor for the University ward in Norwich from 2017 to 2021 (he stepped down in the pandemic as a relative of his partner was shie lding) and last year campaigned to become Labour’s parliamentary candidate fo r Peterborough, a city that reminds him of Colchester – “About 100 miles awa y from London, with a kind of lack of ambition of the place, which is just unl ucky geography.” He failed, but still harbours ambitions of re-entering polit ics. “I’ll be involved until I die, one way or another.” His fame has seen him recognised in other parts of his life. After he qualifie d as a criminal lawyer in 2012 he got on with the Essex police particularly we ll. “Because they were fans,” he says. “I’d get the nice chair and the cup of tea and: ‘Would you like anything, Mr Rowntree?’” He worked in the fiel d for a few years, until Blur’s 2015 album The Magic Whip was released, then his brain dashed off elsewhere: paid work is still important to him, he says, despite Blur royalties providing the bulk of his income. “I want the things t hat I do in my life to have value. It’s important for me to feel like a produ ctive member of society.” He’s also excited about touring solo, having had singing lessons after making the album, to strengthen his voice. “I just want to play five gigs a week. T ouring’s like being a sailor – you’re in a different town every day, you le ave yesterday behind in quite a literal way and it keeps you very much in the moment. It’s a very spiritual thing to do, touring. And there’s a real purpo se and focus of the day” – he laughs – “even when you’re totally knackere d.” Blur in 1995, from left: Graham Coxon, Rowntree, Damon Albarn and Alex James. Blur in 1995, from left: Graham Coxon, Rowntree, Damon Albarn and Alex James. Photograph: Local World/REX Shutterstock Still, he didn’t realise Blur concerts would also be in the mix until a few m onths ago. The Wembley offer also came at an emotional time. Last year, his pa rents, from whom he had long become estranged, both died. “I spent time with my father in his last days. I took him to and from hospital, and I was there w ith him the day before he died, told him I loved him.” He also made “a sort of peace” with his mother. “I made my peace with both of them.” Blur last played together in 2019: a surprise three-song set at Albarn’s Afri ca Express: The Circus show for the Waltham Forest borough of culture celebrat ions, a stone’s throw from Albarn’s childhood Leytonstone home. They played bittersweet Parklife album track Clover Over Dover live for the first time. “ And we all went: ‘Oh, yeah, it’s actually really good, isn’t it, when we al l play together?’” They’re not playing Glastonbury, he says. “Well, we hav en’t been asked. You can’t play Wembley and Glastonbury, can you? Wouldn’t that be a bit off?” He adds. “No one, as far as I know, from Glastonbury has approached us. We may do some warm-ups and stuff like that – we usually do. ” He jumps up, suddenly aware of what he’s said. “Not that we’ve planned t o. Not that Dave from Blur is revealing anything!” The band are not as close as they were, he admits, but they do support one ano ther’s projects. Albarn gave Rowntree detailed feedback on his album before h e finished it and Rowntree always attends his gigs, as well as bassist James’ s summer weekender on his Cotswolds farm, the Big Feastival. He read Coxon’s recent memoir, Verse, Chorus, Monster!, which the guitarist sent to him before it was published – “But not religiously, from start to end.” Did he like i t? “I’m happy with whatever Graham’s got to say.” And any plans to write h is own? “In the first kind of decade of the band, I had a camera with me cons tantly, so I’ve got boxes of photos, I’ve no idea how many, from those early days. One day, I will go through all those photos and if I was going to do a book, it would probably be about that.” The four of them do still call each other for chats from time to time. “It’s funny, but we always slot together like a jigsaw puzzle. Even though we’ve a ll grown and changed and kind of moved on, when we come back together, we slot back into a relationship that we all know works.” How does it work? “I’ve always said [it’s because] we were all boys with one sister – but also, all of us wanted to be pop stars. When we got together, it was like a magic button got pressed. We became each other’s brothers, really. We made a new family f or each other.” Radio Songs is released on 20 January on Cooking Vinyl -- ※ 發信站: 批踢踢實業坊(ptt.cc), 來自: (臺灣) ※ 文章網址: https://www.ptt.cc/bbs/Blur/M.1673925463.A.094.html

01/17 11:19, 1年前 , 1F
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01/17 11:20, 1年前 , 2F
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01/17 18:36, 1年前 , 3F
推推~~~Dave 北北很可愛
01/17 18:36, 3F

01/21 22:53, 1年前 , 4F
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文章代碼(AID): #1ZnXDN2K (Blur)