Fifteen minutes with David Gray

SONGWRITER: David Gray says his new album has a contemporary edge.
SONGWRITER: David Gray says his new album has a contemporary edge.

You have reviewers saying Mutineers is your best album since 1998 multi-platinum seller White Ladder. Were you intimidated by your own success?

Unquestionably that is true but it's a bit more complicated than that.

The success of that album was a seismic event that changed everything. That level of fame leaves you in a hall of mirrors, you become self-conscious, it plays with your mind. I tried to hang on to that initial something which was pure. I was trying to define myself with all of this deliberate behaviour.

What is the point of differencebetween this album and your others?

Working with (British producer) Andy Barlow was like letting someone in with a wrecking ball. My amount of vulnerability was overwhelming at the time. But it was a long time overdue, I got over myself.

How are you feeling about this album?

I was trying to not turn into someone I didn't want to be. The album is sonically, obviously different from my other work. It's more embryonic stuff with a very contemporary edge.

It was a tumultuous rollercoaster in the recording process. It sounds like the moment something crystallised. There's an extra crackle of excitement, a joy in seeing new vistas.

I knew I was somewhere I hadn't been in a long time, it was a relief.

What do you think when you hear White Ladder now?

I think that album sounds great. A year ago I heard it for the first time in a long time.

It has an authority about it, it captures a moment of escaping limitations, it's a moment of it's time. That's what that record is.

Which musicians most inspire you?

The old guard - Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Cat Stevens - he's definitely had an effect on me. He's very soulful and futuristic in his melodies. He's a man of faith, Islam. It's sort of the soundtrack of my life. Whenever I smell cigars, red wine, beer and leather sofas I always think of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Carole King. It takes me back to the 70's when I was a little boy. And I loved Cat.

Are you a man of faith?

I'm in the ranks of the faithless, I'm trying to choose the light.

You have said that your daughters don't listen to your music, what kind of a father are you?

I'm like a giant stormcloud that sweeps in off the Atlantic and into their cosy lounge. They ignore most of the things I say.

What do you think of New Zealand, will you tour here anytime soon?

It's a very laid-back place, I've been there twice. It seems to be in an oceanic trance. The nature is thrilling. Maybe I'll do a Gandalf and go wandering. I have an idea to come back it's just a matter of when. Australia and New Zealand will happen this time, I didn't come down for my last record (Founding) unfortunately.

David Gray's album Mutineers is out now.

Sunday Star Times