Wonderous wordsmith Baxter Dury talks new album ‘Prince of Tears’
Indie musician Baxter Dury returns to the scene with his fifth album ‘Prince of Tears’ and if the puslating first single ‘Miami’ is anything to go by we’re in for a real treat. Son of the legendary, late British singer-songwriter Ian Dury, Baxter although at times reminiscent of his father with his skilled wordplay, has carved out his own niche and unique sound that’s got people who’ve heard him hooked. The MALESTROM caught up with him to talk about the new record, and where he draws inspiration from.
The MALESTROM: Baxter, tell us about ‘Prince of Tears’, we’re absolutely loving Miami by the way…
Baxter Dury: It’s interesting to try and do something that you feel quite heartfelt about and make it as arty as you possibly can, and try and make it as successful as possible, and try and make it you know, move a little bit, so it gets out there and people are happy with it and talking about it, which has happened. So, I am really enjoying it at the moment.
TM: It’s been getting a lot airtime on the radio?
BD: I’ve had quite a lot of success in France, but this record seems to be more poignant here. I guess its quite literal and I’ve really tried to make a whole album that I really like. I thought I’d nailed something and I thought, ‘This is what I am going to do and I did it.’ And so far it’s got the kind of response I think it deserves. It’s not an arrogant appraisal, I genuinely thought, ‘This is very good!’ I hope people get into it; do you know what I mean?
TM: Yeah and it is very good. As for Miami is he a fictional character?
BD: Yeah, it’s a sort of a delusional character that I’ve created. A vehicle for free speech for me, I can say the things I don’t necessarily do normally but I enjoy saying, but via a puppet.
TM: That’s interesting. Is the rest of the album a story that evolves?
BD: Well, everything’s a kind of story, it’s informed by certain lines of experience. I don’t talk about what I had for breakfast though.
TM: What about the title track Prince of Tears, what was the inspiration behind that?
BD: Yeah, it’s a sort of appraisal of it all I guess. It’s like someone trying to be honest about themselves. It’s a bit like a flawed Prince is the way I like to see it. You know, lonely in their battered mansion with the tap dripping. An analogy, I’ve got everything, but I’ve got nothing bullshit. They’re all analogies for things that may or may not have happened that I’m interested in.
TM: Do you find that your opinions have got stronger over time?
BD: Yeah, but you don’t want to sync music with too much personal detail and that bullshit. When you hear people talking about themselves or people who talk about politics in detail I think it’s awful. Unless you’re a kid in a punk band or something then it makes sense, but if you’re like a mature dude trying to talk about yourself, then you’ve got to be careful not to lose the mystery.
TM: How about when you write, do you get into character?
BD: Well kind of, but the hardest thing for me is management perspective, determining what is good or bad. But as for songs, I can ping them out left, right and centre, I can pop them out constantly.
TM: Are your songs self-reflective would you say, going back to your childhood?
BD: Partly maybe, it’s like a tree that’s been planted and grows, they find light and go back and forwards and wherever. I don’t over-concern myself with the spirit of songwriting. You find a reason to write a song and it’s good if you’ve got a reason. I think it’s whatever interests you. I’m more interested in personal politics than the other. It’s boring actually. I mean Corbyn isn’t Che Guevara is he!
TM: Now ‘Prince of Tears’ is your 5th album. Do you think your music has evolved?
BD: Yeah, I guess so. I’m not sure I’m the best critic of myself but yeah, I like what I’m doing. I am not sure there’s too much to gain in music by knowing too much, sometimes not knowing is the best thing. But I’m in a good place.
TM: Now we spoke to Jason from Sleaford Mods recently. He contributed on the album right?
BD: Yeah, he sang a verse on a song (Almond Milk). Yeah, he’s a good bloke and he’s become a good pal of mine.
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TM: Were you an unruly kid as you were growing up?
BD: Relatively, yeah! I was a bit unsupervised you could say.
TM: It was about the age of 13 or 14 that you went to live with your Dad didn’t you?
BD: Yeah, on and off. There was a bit in between parents when either of them couldn’t cope at any particular stage you know, the usual stuff.
TM: Do you get fed up when you keep getting asked about your Dad?
BD: Well, you end up talking so much about it that you forget what was what. You know, he was fine and eccentric. He wasn’t like all fathers and he was what you would have imagined really, he was quite bright and a bright person can work out when they’re being an arsehole sometimes, and sometimes he was an arsehole.
TM: That’s like most people really?
BD: Yeah! Maybe not quite like most people. But no, he was interesting.
TM: He was surrounded by a lot of unusual characters too?
BD: Well, you know, good and bad. It was an interesting position to put a child in. Whether I benefited? Maybe in some ways I have and maybe in some ways, I haven’t. It’s a mixed blessing, isn’t it? In one way you’ve got this incredible upbringing and you can’t blame that, but there wasn’t much domestic consistency and that was replaced by a few characters and as long as you come out of it okay, then that’s fine.
TM: And you were all right with how you were portrayed in the Sex & Drugs and Rock & Roll film?
BD: It was okay. I get a bit of information fatigue on the whole thing. I kind of go arrgghhh. I’ve been through it so much and talked about it so much that it all becomes a blur. Doing a film completes a cycle, you know everyone attached was good, it’s all really good I think. You can’t use it and get into it because of the basis of how you’re related to it and where it helps you, it also hinders you and all that sort of stuff and so it’s a mixed blessing, but overall it’s a totally positive experience. I mean they were brilliant my parents, both of them!
TM: Out of curiosity where was the photo you and your Dad appear in on the front cover of his album ‘New Boots and Panties’ shot?
BD: You know I think it was Victoria or maybe Vauxhall area or somewhere like that, but it doesn’t exist anymore. I think it was a lingerie shop or something.
TM: Ah right. So is there a tour planned with the new album?
BD: Yeah, next year we’ve planned to go round Europe and to Buenos Aires in a month, South America and all that caper, and we’ve got a show at KOKO in Camden on 29th November too, and I think Jason (Sleaford Mods) is going to come and sing and yeah, all good really. It’s all got a nice vibe about it at the moment.
TM: We’re pretty big on inspiration here at The MALESTROM. Are there any inspiring thoughts you could share with our readers?
BD: Well, you know what? I like all that! I’ve actually managed to run two marathons and I’m not even a runner. Just to put your head in that space, I like it! I did two London marathons in a row and I’m telling you, I am the most untrained runner our there. The last one I tried to bail out on halfway through, and I stopped at the Red Cross tent in the middle of it and I thought, ‘I’m absolutely f****d and I am surrounded by 140,000 positive motherf*****s and I could do without this and I don’t know what I signed up for.’ And that was the only time in about two years that I’ve ever been recognised by somebody and it was a big indie guy, with big sideburns and a rubbish hat and he came up to me and goes, ‘I love your music. I can’t believe you’re doing the marathon. Are you okay?’ And as I looked him in the eyes, I said vehemently, ‘I’m fine!’ And brushed off the Red Cross person and I f*****g limped all the way to the finishing line. 13 or 14 f*****g miles! I made it just because of that bastard. So, I like the idea of surviving and that’s a volunteered version of surviving.
And I will say something about my old man; we’ve still got the same doctor as my Dad and I had as a kid, and he’s an amazing guy and about 85 or something, and he told me that Dad had won one of the first gold medals in the Paralympics before it was known as the Paralympics, and he never told anyone!
TM: No way!
BD: And there’s a certificate somewhere. It was at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the 1950’s and he went and did it and won it. So, when I heard that I thought that was amazing, and you know Dad, he was amazing in that way, in the face of adversity and he’d never ever told anyone!
TM: That’s inspiring!
BD: Yeah, that is inspiring, yeah! And I loved that side of my old man. You know if you want to go and be all rock n’ roll and get drunk and stuff, I think that’s a bit sad, and the other side of him was that he could switch out of any mode that you like and any situation. That’s the hardest thing to live up to.
TM: That really is beating adversity isn’t it?
BD: Yeah, totally and I like it as well. You know when something isn’t about to happen, that’s when we kick in and it does make you feel alive. I love that kind of natural resistance. And that definitely flows in the family and that’s a great inspiring story.
Baxter Dury’s new album ‘Prince of Tears’ is released on Friday 27th October and you can pre order it HERE
Book tickets for Baxter’s gig at KOKO in Camden on 29th November HERE