INTERVIEW: Barry Adamson

Barry Adamson has been producing wonderfully textured dark jazzy solo albums since his days as a member of Magazine and The Bad Seeds with Nick Cave.

He’s also collaborated on soundtracks for the likes of David Lynch and Oliver Stone. Ahead of his SouthBank gig next Thurs. 9th Feb. we had a quick chat with Mr. Adamson on his latest album, the creative process and his old buddy Nick Cave.


MW: Your new album ‘I will set you free’ is out now, how do you feel now it’s done?

BA: yeah pretty good, I’m really pleased with the results and happy that it’s out there for people to get something from. I really enjoyed making it.

MW: How did the writing process go? do you demo it on a computer or in a rehearsal studio?

BA:  Well a lot of it was written with a piano or a guitar, or sang into a phone, anything like that, notes scribbled down, and then I put that to the people in the band and parts are recorded and it sorts of grows from there really. I started writing it and then kind of abandoned it, and went off to make a film and then came back to the writing process, and pretty much started from scratch and that’s when it happened really fast. I had felt like (before) I was going in an almost default setting and it wasn’t giving me a lot of pleasure.

MW: So did you feel you had to push yourself a bit more?

BA:  Well I guess the clue’s in the title, it wasn’t so much pushing myself as letting something else happen, let myself go somewhere I’d not really let myself go to before, or finding other places to go to rather than sticking with what’s familiar.

MW: Did it feel like a breath of fresh air doing song based music after doing so much soundtrack work?

BA:  I think it must be, I think I found strength there, I felt fairly satisfied in the film score and film making department. I think I’ve been improving on the strengths of song writing, so I felt fairly complete as a song writer, I felt the songs were strong to begin with so that was encouraging yeah.

MW: You mentioned you play piano and guitar, do you play any other instruments?

BA: Well I can mess around with quite a few things but it’s not like I’m the master of any really. Obviously with the help of a laptop you can put a sequence of notes together and get a tune going and get an idea of how it’s all going to sound. Today, being a musician, we’ve got it good. We can press a button on a keyboard and come up with a whole bloody album. But what you do with that information …  so the rest of it is, you know, good old fashioned song writing, how you shape a melody how you put it across to people.

MW: You mentioned you were working on a film, apart from the current album what else have you being doing?

BA: I’ve made a film and I’ve done some film scores, done some production, mixed a lot of albums for people, like a lot of people I work every day. It’s not like I sit around and then 3 years later decide to do something else, so it’s been an ongoing thing. It’s all full on here.

MW: As a sort of sweeping generalisation of the history of British bands, if we had art college bands on one side and bands who were more like ‘gangs’ on the other. As sweeping as it is how would you see yourself fitting into that?

BA: I see myself as the leader of a very Arty gang, (laughs) yeah I like to mix it up a bit really. I understand, as you said, where both of those places come from and I like to draw on both of them if that’s possible.

MW: Are you going to be doing much touring with this album?

BA: I think we’re going to do some spot shows here and there, and then maybe get the festivals, and then maybe after that do a huge extended tour across Europe and America, and maybe get down to Australia and the rest of the world. That’d be really good actually.

MW: I noticed you’ve done a remix for Grinderman, are you still in contact with Nick Cave at all?

BA: well I did the remix and he called me and said he liked it so that’s contact enough for me.

MW: Of course you’re both fathers now, would you ever pass each other parenting tips?

BA:  well that’s assuming that we do speak to each other, at the school gates maybe, there’s a lot of schools in the world.

MW: finally at your gig next Thursday at the SouthBank, what can audiences expect?

BA: I think they can expect to get their pockets filled with joy, and their hopes met in ways they hadn’t even imagined before….and they can all expect to meet me at the school gates the next day, for some parenting tips.

His new album ‘I will set you free’ is out now.

Tickets for the south bank show can be found here:

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.