Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy takes us on an intimate trip that spans Dylan, spirituality and parenthood.
[00:02:29.27] They do with the microphones so, now we can start - So Damon, thanks a million for this, really appreciate your time -
It’s a pleasure.
[00:02:35.22] And the show is called "Born Optimistic", this thing we're recording now; where do you stand on optimism as a concept?
I don't know, well, I think I've always been optimistic, I feel like I'm an optimistic person, but It's easy to have your optimism sucked by the world, I suppose, to keep rising above it, especially with the year we've had, 2016, we've lost people, dying, you know, the people that we all felt like we knew, as David Bowie, and Prince and other people... Caroline Aherne in my case, somebody I knew and friends that, first person that I knew that died, so all of that inevitably can say (?) (psycholog-or-out-of-your-body) - I think I'm an optimistic person, especially the older I get, I think I'm - I'm mellowed out and I'm learning to just take things as they come and just - You can't control everything in life, I think that's another thing I've learned, let go of some of the stuff that you can't really have any persuasion on because it's just wasted energy and that's all, all we are made up of is particles of energy and if you - as soon as you realise that and take it for real it's - you don't waste as much time as you did when you were younger, so I think I'm always optimistic because we’ve always got the youth coming through, our children - I think the generation of my children's age is inevitably smarter than we are, they have to be. We've made on I think, you know, I don't know if we're going to go about politics, the Brexit thing and all that, but I think it's possibly - It felt like a big mistake, I wasn't for leaving Europe anyway, and the reaction of the youth said it all, really, because they weren't old enough to vote, my daughter was just sixteen in December, she was really angry and - So I trust them and I trust their judgement as much as anything, I think unity is more important than ever, always will be, because the world is getting smaller in terms of the way we all communicate fast with each other with the internet, the news travels faster, but the geography is still the same, it still takes hours to travel to Australia so it's a bit of a myth that we're actually getting closer but, for instance, you know, the UK and where I'm from in England you feel isolated enough as it is and so I'm quite pleased that my kid's generation have reacted strongly and - so I think it's made me even more determined to look, to be aware of their future. I think it's quite easy to go through life and just forget... I've taught myself to wake up in the morning and think what is first, and not my own problems and it's helped me a lot, it's my own philosophy that I've developed, just to think of someone else before you think of your own issues and it gets you through the first half hour not worrying about what you got to do. And I think, in general terms, thinking about what my kids have got facing them, you know, if they live until the good old age, like I will (?), to leave, to leave the place in about - to leave the world (in a better) place so in that sense I'm always optimistic and especially I think of - I meet people all the time, that are generally good people, there's tons of bad stuff that goes on in the world, but I don't get to meet those people, they're just - So I (!?) such big influence on the way the world seems to be troubled all the time, I don't know because I don't tend to meet many idiots. I've met Donald Trump.
[00:06:27.18] So do you think you're children's adulthood will be more or less difficult than yours?
It's a strange one, but I think so many things are easier now (to result?) to do that, you know, that everything has been - Fifty years ago people didn't own televisions, let alone a phone in your pocket that can be a television and you can use it for all sorts of other things and... So there's lots of things made easier, but I think the illusion of, like a deception(!?), the illusion of the world just happening so fast around you can - If you're sensitive to it like I am, as an artist I think you're born sensitive... So if you let it get on top of you, it can give you the illusion of being more difficult, again, sometimes I'm trying to teach myself is that you - that stuff really, you got to be aware of stuff going on around the world, but you can't change a lot of it, you can do your bit on a personal, daily basis, you can just be good to the person that you come across next, you know. I think the world - It's a double-edge sword, lots of things are easier but some basics are tougher. I think trying to make your way in the world gets harder in terms of - just take my industry for a start... I don't think it's quite so easy to fold your way, to be in a band or a recording artist perhaps, because a lot of us have been taken away the that simple equation - bands wanted to get a record deal, which I did, not that long ago, just under twenty years ago when I got my first record deal and things have changed a lot since then, but then I think there's also - The world just keeps changing and there are other ways of doing things, I mean.
[00:08:38.25] Did you decide to become an artist, were you born an artist, like did you weigh up the pros and cons of oh, a career in music versus a career in working for I don't know who or what; like, was there an evaluation for you or, like, was it just - there was no other option, no other thing you ever want to do?
I just think I was - I was - I always from being very young, I think, just remembering - I never felt comfortable just doing something ordinary like a regular job, I certainly didn't - I didn't know I was going to be a musician, that was quite late for discovering music (in my late teens?) Dublin with my first guitar or keyboard and then, really, into my twenties before I had an option I could say that seriously, I wanted to be a recording engineer so I got a job in the recording studio. So I made an effort to try and do something that I would find interesting, I thought recording music because I love music, I thought if I do something – You’ve got to have a chance if you're going to fill your life with something you actually find interesting rather than do a job that you detest. So that's one thing I'm trying to teach my kids, just focus on things, something you're going to enjoy and you’ve got half the battle ended, you can get through it and your life will be easier and more enjoyable, but... I didn't grow up in an area or amongst people like my family or friends, circle of friends that did music or anything, so I didn't - So it was like a bit of a pipe dream, to think that I could do... Looking back if I knew then what I know now, I would think it was relatively easy, I just ought to show that I was - I had some talent, and so I recorded some songs on a four-track and started my own record label because I didn't think that there'd be any interest from anywhere else so I started, I thought 'I'll do it myself', so I started 'Twisted Nerve Records' in '97 in (!?) hotel. That was mainly because my mom and dad have their own business, so I came from a background where I just saw them doing their thing so I’ve got as a built-in mechanism of do-it-yourself... And then slowly that that - When I put the first EP out on 'Twisted Nerve', that connected me to the industry in a way, like people started to take notice which I - If I'd known that I would have perhaps done it differently, I perhaps would've approached it... but in a way, I was glad that I did it the way I did it because it felt real for me.
[00:11:19.22] You're being hard on yourself or self-deprecating, you didn't think that anyone else would be interested in you.
Only - Yeah, but not because - Perhaps not because I didn't think it was any good, but just because I didn't know how it worked, the system of giving somebody a demo or - Again, I think, I think a lot, there's a romance of just being discovered for what you do, I think I wanted it to be that way and that's the way I made it happen because like starting my own label got me, got me noticed... I think sometimes these days I think bands - kids in bands are a little bit too clued up. Like, in the last ten years there's been recording schools where they even learn how to deal with the media like this now, so now what can you learn really, you could be an idiot (that turns up?) anything I learned could be (go out (!?) of the window) because I've just got to answer your rubbish questions or good questions or whatever it is but, you know, they're taught (?) - Some of that could be useful because I'm the type of person that speaks my mind and shoots from the hip and can get himself in trouble for saying the wrong things. But there's something about - I want to preserve... being a recording artist to me means being free, being an artist of any kind really, you know, a fine artist, a photographer or a filmmaker, generally, all those kinds of people, people who want to be themselves in the world, be free and not be dictated to by a boss or, you know, search, find your own path and follow it and certainly for me with music, I'm still very much driven by my own desire to write a really great song, one that's not written yet perhaps I've written some good ones but there's still something great in there that, you know, the likes of Bob Dylan's, even at his age he still searches for so he's very inspiring. It's an (old school skill) of notion??? that, you know that I hope that doesn't really ever change, I look to artists like Bob Dylan but he's seventy-five and... There might be artists that look to me, hopefully, young kids, younger than me, keeping that tradition going and I just want to inspire and infringe people to do things the right way, 'The X Factor' and reality TV has threatened that innocence of doing it your own way, not just the innocence of it, the beauty of it, the beauty of - You can be truly unique if you do it yourself, you're not following anyone's dot-to-dots of 'The X Factor' world where you just sing this song and everybody - turn on the wind machine at the right point and Simon Cowell stands up and applauds and that's it, you're number one. Rubbish.
[00:14:08.22] But I suppose the emotion is the big differentiator as in, you know, you're a singer-songwriter and you put your - you're wearing your heart under your sleeve, you stand on a stage and you pour your heart out to rooms full of strangers in exchange for agillation(?) attention from those strangers, but how did you been prepared for that and when you talk about your freedom, what price do you pay for that freedom? Like, has anything prepared you for what it's like to bare your soul in front of strangers?
No, no, I don't think - I think you can - you can prepare so much for - I think, for me, doing the live performance stuff is two very different things, recording the music and getting that - Getting out to a point where you are as happy as you can be with the recorded stuff. I think just observing bands like The Beatles made me understand that in an instance because their records were - They're recorded document of that band and whatever they did live, I mean , and especially then because they didn't even have monitors to hear themselves which is why they stopped doing it really, because it was painfully, painful experience, but the live experience was a totally different world completely to what you've been recording so they've set the bow with that, and (the likes of Dylan) recording, making the record, the reason it's called 'a record' is that it's a document recorded so that, to me, is still the main thing that I find fascinating, hence I wanted to be a sound engineer originally. The act of recording the moment, the song, that's the big challenge, that's why I still get driven by, doing it live is a by-product of it and something I never really saw myself wanting to do, just happen to be off at a few gigs early on when my first EP was out. A local promoter asked me if I'd support Smog, Bill Callahan, so I was a kind of fan of him and I thought - Well, it was a challenge so I thought "Well, I'll do it, why not, see what happens", and within the first ten minutes of that first gig I realised quite a few things, it wasn't very easy, I've made mistakes in the first song, I've sat on a stool that was too high for me to reach the guitar pedal for the solo, to change the guitar sound and I was mortified that I couldn't do that, missed the solo, I was sounding rubbish because I couldn't reach the pedal and got to the end of the song and thought everyone is going to boo and I'm going to have to leave and go and - But everyone applauded and I thought "All right, I've made mistakes and I still got through it and got a round of applause". So that taught me a lot in five minutes, so I think even since then I've been doing gigs since 1997, so it's nearly twenty years. Last night in Dublin, and another one tonight, I felt exactly the same last night as I did twenty years ago because up until the moment you walk onto the stage you're not exactly sure how it's going to go, you can't - You've got - No, I've got the experience under my belt so I know I can do it, but I still leave that option open, to have it going some way... and that's what scares me, that's what keeps it fascinating. I think artist that take it to another level in the touring stadiums they have to have things in place that make it run smooth, so there's set lists, for example, which I don't tend to really stick to, the lighting guy needs to know when Coldplay are going to do that song and when everyone is going to put their hands in the air with their flashing armbands, now things like that. So that kind of gig is piece of cake I would imagine because (it's all) very little can go wrong, and it could turn soulless if - Not that I'm saying - I mean, I've been to Coldplay gigs and they're extremely good at it, so if you can keep the passion within that restriction, the restrictions of a structure which someone like Chris Martin can because I think he still believes what he is doing, so hats off to him for doing that. Other bands, I think, who take things to that level, it can get a bit like doing it the same every night and uninspired so -
[00:18:35.22] But the sacred ?? thing for you is the record, you're a recording artist, you make records of moments. When you're making these records do you imagine ever the situations that the listeners might enjoy these records in or what it might bring to them or a particular song for particular moment, have you any notion of what the consumption of that record you're making might be like?
I probably don't think about that enough; otherwise I'd make better records that suit people listening. I think going back to, like, bands I think there is, in recent times, there have been - You could point the finger at certain bands that brought up a record, a song or even a whole album tailored to be played to 30.000, 40.000 people which is a skill, you can't just press buttons and, you know, that's going to work in a stadium. U2 started doing that, they were the first to do it probably, to think - I remember somebody saying they saw U2 - Richard Russell, my ex-label boss XL he saw U2 play a very small gig by their standards in some, like, a warm-up show and the projection of the band, in particular Bono, it was like it was missing the whole room, the gig, they were in some bar, like a bar gig, and, you know, Bono's vocals was landing about a mile away in a few fields because he was used to play in massive stadiums so it didn't work in a small place, because they are so used to doing these big - All of Bono's gestures were just too big for the room and so that's something - When I -
[00:20:18.22] Or even like of a, you know, sometimes when I'm doing work with bands I get them to complete a sentence that's like 'My name is X - My name is Badly Drawn Boy and I make X type of music for Y type of people when they're feeling Z’, you know, like an awareness of what you're bringing into somebody's life and most artists don't think about it at all.
Yeah, I think - What's - Going back to your original question, yeah, I think if I was to try and think about what my music is - I find sometimes my music embarrassing if it's - If I, say, hear it on a radio or in a supermarket occasionally or on the TV, sometimes occasionally doesn't generally ??? usually it does, it - I feel like I make my music for intimate listening, I think I started out - Because I started out with working on four-tracks with headphones, I lived in shared houses in Manchester so I didn't want to disturb the other housemates with plugging in loud guitars, I made my music in a confined space, it made it - It was made intimately and that influenced the lo-fi stuff that I liked at the time in the early nineties when I started really taking myself seriously, stuff like Beck, (a lot the) American band Beck, Money? and (Fuel the People?). The lo-fi feel, approach seem to suit me, again it was like a tag as name that became to me in the music but I think in the first place it was the way stuff was made, homemade, using basic equipment, four-tracks and stuff. So that really suited me, I felt infinity with that and so... I think even still I've gone onto making records in the studios with bigger production and stuff, but I still feel like the main vibe of my music is to be listened to out of choice, you know, ??? love my - the music that I like to listen to myself or I judge music from my point of view, all the people's music, I judge it but I choose to listen to that, sat with the cup of tea at home with my headphones on and if I wouldn't then it's not my kind of music because, obviously I look to play music in the room ??? party at the house ??? Music is one of the few art forms that changes everyone's mood, I love fine art, I love buying pictures and stuff but there's nothing like music, I love watching films but music, you can't see it, you can only feel it and I always looked the (fact/fun) ??? case ??? that's why I'm drawn to making music. If you make a good song that could be listened to time and time again, and I love the fact that actually it can accomplish somebody throughout different spells in the life and I do get feedback from people saying that some of my music got them through a tough time, I mean that's a massive compliment in a way, but it is a compliment because - I cannot say that I set out to do that, but I'd like to think I make music that's kind of thought-provoking or at least changing the mood a little bit from a bad mood to a good one hopefully rather than the other way.
[00:23:48.02] And, you know, so it's a self-fulfilling prophecy in a sense that you make this intimate music or you make it with a notion of intimacy and then people take you close to them.
Yeah, I suppose it's like onomatopoeic in that way, if that makes sense, like the word that sounds like what it is, like the word 'drip', like dripping tap, so if I'm going to make intimate music, it's thanks to reason that it's taken intimately and taken ??? that's what you mean by that I think that's quite a nice thing, but if you're going to make rock music that really is for playing through a large PA like Metallica, and that's really where it's going to be best listening to it and I think that's the thing about the music and the live thing, it's a separate things for me. It's been a challenge over the years to translate what I do, I never bother too much about trying to replicate a record, I've done that as a project, like, with the first album toured last year and, you know, did a good job of playing it live with a band but I think I've always ought to think slightly differently on my feet when I play things live and I've never worried that I’d have to change the song from the arrangement that is on the record or... I sing it slightly differently when I play live, I'm a different type of singer when I'm on stage than I am - I don't really - When I'm making a record I rarely stand in the studio and ??? belled out? a song like I would on the stage. Bono would do that because that's the record, that's what they're trying to capture as a band. I think maybe I should do that, maybe I will do that, you know, make a bigger sounding record or - My vocal, my singing has improved over the years, I think, by doing live, so in that sense I've learned from the live experience. Your playing gets better because you're playing every night, you don't sit at home and play every day, I don't, so when you're playing two or three gigs on the run you're sharpening up the skills as well and - But you're also sharing it with the people that are there which is the one, you know, lives become important when I said earlier in the chat that we - The record is the main focus for me but.. Because of the way the world has gone in the last ten years with everything, the music industry, lives become paramount as well as the way that you connect and stay afloat as an artist because if I couldn't play gigs there wouldn't be much of the way... I've been pretty lazy at making music recently so the way I'm coming to say 'Hello', which is what these gigs have been about really, these few gigs in the last week, just to make sure people know I'm still at it and still - I've got a record coming soon, I'm starting to make one, so the live things become much more important than I imagined it would, so I'm quite lucky that I've got experience under my belt to be able to just go and do a show any day of the week because I can play solo or play with a band ???
[00:26:59.29] But in how you're singing and how you talk and the lyrics you write you pump out a certain demeanour, and whether that's deliberate or not you're, you know, I don't know if you ever decided 'I'm going to sing in a certain way', but there's a gentleness about you. Like, where do you think that came from?
I don't know, ??? the opposite...
[00:27:23.16] We've seen the videos, but in generally speaking, there's a gentleness about you, like, you know, you have that demeanour, the way you sing is soft, the sounds you make are warm.
I think we all project a demeanour that we're not really aware of and it's inevitable that we do and, you know, you hear your own voice recorded and we all think 'That doesn't sound like me', why do we all feel like that when we hear our voice, but singing is slightly different to that, you tend to not get bothered by your singing voice as much you do by your talking voice, so that's one element, and then when you start doing videos and you may see yourself on some TV show that you did, I was on 'Mastermind' last year and, you know, I mean I can hardly watch it, you know.
[00:28:12.26] You did really well, I saw it.
I didn't play, I didn't feel like myself really so that was alright, but I think - Yeah, the self-deprecating thing is just, I think part of that is a bit of fun, part of that is to get people on your side sometimes, you know, I watched other artists that - The Gallaghers are good example, easy example, they just keep telling everyone that they're best thing in the world, I mean, after a while it works, Noel Gallagher is the best self-promotional artist that has ever been, you know, I'm the best. And again he's doing that slight tongue-in-cheek making up, but kind of if you get away with it you might be - There's a humour in there, in doing that so I think, there is with me a humour in -
[00:28:59.01] It's kind of north of England thing as well, it kind of seems to be, or Manchester anyway.
Yeah, maybe it comes from my parents and my parents are quite, you know, mild people, people who I respect and I've learned from them. I just - I like the world to - I like - Justice - I don't know whether it's my star sign, I'm not a massive believer, but there's definitely truth in - I'm a Libra and I like the scales of justice, I feel like I deserve a certain amount of respect for what I do and I feel like I've achieved that over the years, and especially now I feel like it's - I'm reaping the benefits of the work I've put in, I announced these gigs and they sold out really quickly, that was really rewarding to hear about, I was really chuffed to know that there is still a level of respect so it's that... I don't know.
[00:29:54.20] And who were the icons for you growing up, like who were the people you looked up to that were kind of like the North Star, I mean, you mentioned your parents for gentle people, you know, friends, family, people that you didn't even know, like, who did you get inspired by growing up?
I can't think of anybody in particular, I mean, music was always a big thing, the stuff that was in the charts... I can't think of anyone, I mean, Springsteen, when I first discovered Bruce Springsteen, that was a big moment, one that a lot of people probably don't really understand because it's not like I do music that is similar to Bruce Springsteen or - I just saw the footage of Bruce doing the 'Thunder Road' at Madison Square Garden that was on TV, a part of the documentary in 1984 'Whistle Test' on TV and it was just something magical about it, something like a type of music I'd never seen before. But I was also into, you know, bands like The Smiths and that in the early eighties - I'm trying to think is there anything in particular, really, you know, my older brother Simon, he is actually here in Dublin, he came to the show last night, he's somebody I've always looked up to because he's my older brother, he's the eldest of four of us, I'm the third eldest and that four years difference between us and - Simon is mild, (mad guys), subtle, I think there’s a family really, I can only think of my family when I think of people I look to, my grandparents, you know, especially my grandmother, she's from ??? on my mom's side of the family and ??? was she died few years ago, she lived a long life and Henry was from Dublin. So I think maybe a family trait - you know, there's a inherent sort of humility, humble side to the general feel of the people in the family, really, you know, coming down to my own kids and my brother's kids, my oldest nephew, he's just the nicest guy you'll ever meet and so I think it just runs through the blood as much as anything, and there's an amount - a big sense of pride of doing well and got the enormous pride from the family that I've done well, almost painfully proud of me so, you know, that kind of breaks me out of these (?), it still does that they're still - I've ought to develop a slightly thicker skin than I probably would've had normally if I've just done something that was relatively normal compared to what I've ended up doing, I've had to deal with the world on a different level -
[00:33:03.28] Like the family celebrity.
A little, yeah, a little bit, and the amount of travelling I've done and gigs I've done and people I've met which I think is - I see as positive because it's broadened me as a person. I've been out of my comfort zone a lot more than I perhaps would've been and I've come through all that and I don't think I've lost ??? anyway, I think I'm still what my parents moulded me to be, you know, generally decent person. And I've been pushed to the edge a few times and probably shown the side of me that I perhaps don't like about myself, but you can ??? more that they pop out occasionally, you can - you have to - you ought to seeing your faults a lot more when you're put in a public eye and because people treat you differently, that's the main thing that changes, whether they like you or not, you know, you hear is cliché of people pointing the finger at you that you've changed; Christ Martin - my sister knows him more than I do - she said he got a lot of this at one point, people accusing him of changing and he said really, it was the people around him, friends, family, especially on the level of fame he has got to is a different (wrong?) to me, the one and the same but there's another level to get to that perhaps I've avoided and quite glad I know, because I think if it gets to another level it can be surreal and people really do start treating you differently because you end up in so many different places and so I think I've just got - I've got to learn enough to learn about it, you learn a lot about people by observing the way they are with you. I mean, I love it when people just come up to me, pass me on the street and they just say 'Oh, hi, how are you doing?' Like they know you, and some people are a little bit more shy and nervous and star struck and they're nice too. The worst people who're really arrogant and abuse the fact that they think they can just talk to you because you're public property, those people I’m not bothered with but I’m trying to give my time to the person that's standing in the background who's too scared to come up to you, you know, I have respect for people and people who're a little bit shy and but, yeah, I think I've got be quite accurate with where it's all led me because I think I've kept whole who I am and I've learned to be a bit stronger because of what I've been put through, so I think I can't really complain.
[00:35:44.25] Do you have days where you don't wear the hat to go incognito, like if you feel like you don't want to be Badly Drawn Boy of a Tuesday, do you just go out without a woolly hat?
No, I wish I was that ? I haven't really thought it through, there is the option to do that. I kind of... I like being - I've grown to get used to like being me or Badly Drawn Boy... The Badly Drawn Boy thing is a weird thing, it's like a name that was just a bit silly in the first place, it became the thing that got me recognized and I can't escape it anymore so... But I think essentially it represents me, I don't think it's a pseudonym that - I just wanted a name that felt like I could be creative under a name that gave me - you know, it's not a name that implies a certain type of music for start, you know, like going back to say Metallica, you'd expect something metally, at least, so it's kind of - the name was initially to give me a broad palette to work with, I think, because that's what I want to do is that I still want to branch out and do all that - lots of kinds of music.
[00:37:01.01] Were you through your life for a long period not wearing a hat all the time, there's footage of you, you know, pre-hat, then it's the hat all the time so apart from on a metaphysical level, on a purely physical level how does wearing a hat all the time affects you, does wearing a hat every day accelerate or decelerate hair loss, for example, does it affect how you see the world, you're warmer all the time?
Yeah, I think, I think the hat keeps the hair the same as it was... It's not - I think I'm ? warmer - there is that - It totally makes you live longer by at least another ten years per lifetime, ??? I've made that up.
[00:37:47.29] You had me, I was like 'Wow, I got to start wearing a hat every day!'
??? always ??? you like ??? probably changed but - No, it's a phenomenon, I just feel comfortable, you know, I think when I started playing live gigs, especially, I was in Japan with The Flaming Lips playing with them and having a bad hair day and it was just easy to wear a hat every day and it kind of stuck since then, but I might have a post-hat phase in my career, there's still that to come.
[00:38:25.24] And that may go ? could become like, you know, Samson or something, you know, it might all go to (pot).
It's a ? from my own back, it might be where my strength comes from so I got to be aware of that.
[00:38:36.28] You never know. You mentioned earlier about, you know, talking to your daughter about, you know, her life and how if you find something you know you love and it reminded me of the saying, you know, find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life and I've really got into sayings and clichés and all those things as I get older I feel they make more and more sense and I was wondering how you felt about them?
There are some really wise words, you know, phrases and sayings or quotes, there's loads of them and some of them are good because they're snappy and quick and you can keep them - I can't think of why I said that.
[00:39:24.00] Well, you know, so you know you're okay with people, all people come to you and say 'Oh, enjoy your school days, they're the best days of your life', or you have a kid and people say 'Oh, it goes really quickly, you won't feel it go', and the time you're, well me I'm like 'Say, that's a lot of rubbish', and then twenty years later you're looking back and you're all 'All those people all that time were right and I dismissed all these advices, tried clichés and now I've gotten older and I've realised there was method'.
Like 'Youth is wasted on the young' is a great one because it's one of the horrible ironies of the human condition is that you can't learn it without experiencing it really, I've just said that, I've just coined a phrase there, no matter how many people tell you 'It will fly by when you got kids, or do this or that, you can't - I want to tell my kids to really enjoy being young, enjoy this time, but you can't really because they’ve got to live through it, you can advise. It's only with time and experience that you learn, there is no other way of doing it, but I think that's quite rewarding as well, you can only gain knowledge by actually working through stuff. You can't pick it up quick, you can't fast-track yourself, like 'The X Factor' people think they can fast-track themselves to fame, it's not going to last, they're going to fall flat(nosed to them?). You can only, you can really do things for real, the only thing that works is - you know, I'm forty-seven now and I think within the last five years I've learned the hell of a lot more than I've perhaps did in the ten years prior to that, perhaps because I've stopped to think more, the time-off that I've had after I had a breakup with Clare, the mother of my two children, which took its toll, we're friends still which is great and... but still five years of pass by where I've kind of got back on my feet, you know, because that relationship was strong in a big part of my life and came to an end. But I've learned a massive amount through what have been - quite a few painful years, and that another horrible irony is, you know, most of the stuff that you learn has to come from pretty bad situations that you'd rather won't happening but, you know, I've learned a lot from spirit, I'm much more spiritually aware and my sister, my youngest sister has been a good influence in that respect. She is very spiritually-driven, she was quite ill when she was young, (Gemma?), she had Crohn's disease which I've recently been diagnosed with in the last two years, it's not - I don't feel like it's serious because Gemma has had it since she was a kid, she had operations that threatened her life when she was ten, eleven, twelve and she missed school years and stuff; so she had a tough time then, but she is quite inspiring on a basic human level, Gemma, she is - she always was in our shadow as the youngest of four of us and struggled at school because of her illness and - but what she has done positively with our lives, she’s became because of the health condition she spent a lot of time, twenty, thirty years nearly now of studying her health because she had to and so now that I've got Crohn's disease and Gemma has just been there to - I felt kind of, I felt good about it because I felt like I'm on her side for once, going through something she was going through. So that was not a problem for me but in terms of (diet?), Gemma - she (was) (racky?) and EFT emotional tapping which is really interesting stuff. I've had friends who were been ill in the last few years with various cancer brain tumours, stuff like that, and looking into what you can do to prevent those situations and thinking positively, stuff that just comes to me in the last several years because I've had to ??? something and it's not the basic stuff that we all possess, positive energy can get you through a lot of different things. I feel like I'm just really learning loads, there is loads to learn about that, I stopped drinking a year ago as well which has been a big thing for me to - I wanted to change my life, I've just been used to drinking with this job and knowing it's not very good for you at the level I was sort of drinking daily especially when we’re on tour and so just over a year ago I stopped doing that and that's opened up my world to different things because everything - when you're stuck in a rut with something like booze, for example, there is, there is, your life is - there is not much else new, if it's something that you look forward to booze-o-clock every day, seven in the evening or whenever, on tour it'd be a sound check, so 4 pm onwards... You're stuck in this cycle, so I've broken that cycle now; I get up early and wander the streets like I did today. I feel like I'm seeing more, feeling more of the world around me and, you know, at some point of your life if you can you should do that, I feel like I'm on the second half of my life, second half of a football match in a way. I've got another kid on the way which is something unexpected as well. My fiancé, she's seventeen weeks down the line, the baby is due in May, so I’ve got all that come again. So at the minute, I'm just happy with all of that and the music - I'm still hungry for music in terms of what I can achieve, I've got a studio home now that I can use (which?) is first time that happened in years that I'm comfortable using so, I'm just genuinely excited about that again.
[00:45:19.25] It's like a whole new phase of your life?
Yeah, it feels - I feel like what I've been waiting for has arrived, you know, like a place in your head that you imagine happiness to be or - It's always in the future somewhere else like when I was twenty I didn't feel like I was - Well, maybe when I'm thirty I'll be, I'll feel like a man, I'll feel grown up. I got to thirty and I didn't feel grown up or any different, so you end up you have to give up on that or well, maybe when I'm forty then - so it never really happens, even when you got kids, I still don't feel like I'm a grown-up and that I can cope with everything. So you just have to learn to do what you can do and, you know, my kids feel like my mates more than my kids, my son especially because he is, like, a foot taller than me already at fourteen so it's like, you just have to learn to do what you can. I think you bond with a certain type of - you are a certain type of person when you’re born pretty much, it's predetermined in your genes and your...
[00:46:27.25] So you don't think parents can mess it up?
I think it can be messed up, nature and nurture is a fine balance, I think in essence though what is inside of your soul is there to prevail and - But I think everyone ? bond ? must be and so obviously people can turn to the dark side, but I think we've all got certain roles to play, I mean, there will be people that are high-flyers that - I'm not interested by - If I was interested in just making money like people who work in the city or wherever they do, working for big companies and, you know, crapping on other people to get where they get and that wouldn't float my boat, I mean, in essence, we're born with a certain - I was the type of person born wanting to do something, to create something, that's really what gives me a buzz is knowing that five minutes ago this song wasn't there and then it is in five minutes time; being able to do that by learning to play a guitar or a piano is something that's really kept me going a lot.
[00:47:35.08] You mentioned spirituality there; when you say that, what do you mean? What does that mean?
I think spirituality - lot of people confuse it as that is connected to religion or is a religion itself. Spirituality is just self-awareness, I think. I'm pretty sure that is a proper definition, as well as awareness of yourself in order to be aware of others, a journey of self-discovery, it can sound a bit cliché, but you see people going on reality shows and say they've been on a journey, you know, 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here', and all. I know what they mean, I know what they mean by that, the only journey they've really been on though is stepping of the one they're on, you know, they're not in their comfort zone in their house waking up with all other things and going to their job, so the journey - you take yourself out of your normality for a week or two, you were never to be ??? this is what happened when I stopped drinking, I went away for two weeks and it was a brilliant thing to do regardless of drinking or not, to go somewhere different. I was terrified of doing it, I didn't I could change or - and then I got stressed that it's not just drinking, it was more than that, it was an attempt to start something new, to - not just to stop something, to start something different, and that's more important, to start something, because now that journey is never-ending. I've opened up another door, another avenue that I can navigate and I feel excited again about all the things I can try and do, I feel like I want to try different things, music is definitely always going to be a part of my life, but I might want to do a few other things as well. I think that's spirituality in a way, spirituality is being open minded enough to accept changes and to know that everything you learn may be completely wrong. I'm terrified that one day I’ll wake up and think 'Oh, my God, what the hell am I doing? I hate all the songs I've written, I want to write this kind of songs instead'. Thankfully, that's not happened at all, I don't detest what I've done because I genuinely thought, especially to stop drinking, I may not relate to the stuff I've done but I look back and I think 'How the hell did I manage that?' Not because I was drinking or anything but because I think you always look back on your past work as - it happens in flashes of moments and I don't remember writing that song 'Once Around The Block', how did I do that, and I do that now still, I write a song a week ago, I think, I can't remember doing that because they just come in moments that you grab and... So I think that the ultimately spiritual - spirituality is to be aware of yourself, to constantly try and search for who you are because that allows you to be aware of others and to deal with this world we're in, you know, you've only really got yourself to - we all need other people, that's a definite, we all need friends and family without a doubt, but it comes to the crunch when you're in your hotel room at night like I was last night, I knew James was next door which was kind of (good for him?) but you're on your own with your thoughts so you have to rely on that, you have to, you know, you are your own thoughts and you can't escape that. You know, when people talk of people losing their minds, going mental, whether it's because they overdone it with drugs or booze or whatever, people actually physically lose the plot; they don't know who they are anymore. I mean that's a scary thought because all we have is who we are and your identity, you know, it's difficult enough to say somebody he was adopted, I know people in that situation and that must be tough, but in some ways a blessing because they might have had a worse life if they’ve known who their parents were in some cases. But to know who you are and understand it and build on that, and where you want to go.
[00:52:00.14] Like, spirituality is like being awake?
[00:52:04.05] Seems like.
Yeah, just being awake to the world, I mean, ignorance is bliss for some people, as the saying goes, and I'm sure it can be, but when you - the world is a brilliant place to be embraced if you can keep, you know, keep yourself sane and it's just - when things are going well it's a wonderful place to be in and - so you have to arm yourself with as many things as you can to keep yourself in the game, you know, like James plays this game on his phone with his son -
[00:52:40.08] James, your tour manager?
Yeah, James the tour manager; and they have to keep finding weapons and stuff to protect themselves and - what it's called? 'Clash of Clans'. So it's a bit like that, life is a bit like well - you know, I feel a strength from you, your partner, your wife, your fiancé, your kids can give you strength, they do give you strength and I feel really lucky to have one on the way because it's another level of stuff to think about and in some ways you can't afford to worry about yourself too much when you got others to worry about so, again, it's refreshing.
[00:53:19.04] Will you need your energy with a new baby (about the?) place as well?
Hopefully, yeah, hopefully it can keep me young, young in spirit at least.
[00:53:28.08] I'm curious about these other things that aren't music that are tickling your fantasy, you mentioned before we started recording that you're into antiques and stuff, you think it will get you into antique dealing or, you know, what kind of things, what are the things that you can picture yourself doing?
I can certainly be the next David Dickinson, I think, for a new generation, work on the orange tan. I don't know, I've always liked arts before music, really, at school I was into - I was quite good at it and then let it slip. I'm starting to draw and paint again but just because... I mean obviously Bob Dylan is quite well known for doing that, but I don't feel like I'm copying that, I feel like it was just always naturally in me, my dad is a good artist and so I got back into that a little bit. I want - Writing again, it's not far away from what I already do, Springsteen has just done his biography and Johnny Mars just done his autobiography and people always say 'you’ve got a book in you', and I don't know, I'm not so sure about being that bothered to write a book, (if) I have a fellow ? something worth doing ? interesting yeah; maybe something different than autobiography, maybe something more creative, I'm not sure.
[00:54:50.17] So you if you're thinking of a book you know this book that you write and someone picks it up in the bookshop what does it say on the back, what's the blurb on the jacket of the book you write? Is it 'Who’s done it'? Is it a 'Kiss and tell?'?
It would be some kind of mystery, but humorous, a comedy mystery, I don't know, like the banana split is making a comeback in it or something like that, I'm not sure. Slight - it's a bit of surrealness, you know, John Lennon did some of those stuff, poems and stuff, that I think I'm kind of drawn to that kind of a similar world of - it's surreal, the world we live in and so I like things to be colourful and weird and - it's like some of the stuff you remember from being a kid, that TV shows that we watched or even weirder than… I mean, there's maybe - I forgot that to come again, watching TV with the new baby, Barney the Dinosaur again.
[00:56:02.19] Barney is gone.
Is he gone? Thank God.
[00:56:03.16] Oh, you're lucky, PAW Patrol, PAW Patrol is the new Barney.
So Barney has been killed off?
[00:56:07.03] Yeah, it's a team of dogs and each one has got a particular attribute, one of them recycles, one of them builds, one of them puts out fires.
So you've got recent kids to know this?
[00:56:18.00] Yeah, yeah, two and a half year old and PAW Patrol didn't exist when the eight year old was that age so there's always, they were fresh, a little bit faster. I was thinking, if science fiction was an option, if you were to look forward into the future, what kind of future do you see for us all, back to where we started in terms of optimism as an optimist looking in to the future, what kind of things do you see?
I don't know, the rate the world is changing, twenty, thirty years time, you just - the mind boggles as to what could - I don't know, I wouldn't rule anything out. Fifteen years ago I didn't really believe that we would all have a phone in our pocket with everything, music in it and stuff like that so it seems really daft that fifteen years ago I was going to London meeting people and I didn't have a mobile phone, so in the next fifteen, twenty years - I'm not - I wouldn’t want to predict what could happen. You look at science fiction films from the past and the future is always a little bit different than it actually pans out to be. I just hope people don't lose sight of who - lose their soul and who they are, like technology takes that out, I don't think it ever can really, I just hope – hopefully, best case scenario where the world just gets better and easier learned by our mistakes, especially the ones made this year, and truth and good values and the good side of humanity just wins again because it's been threatened, I think, recently, it's constantly threatened by wars and inexplicable, unnecessary wars going on all the time. There's got to be a way of making this world work and tick without so much harm being caused at the same time so I'm optimistically looking at it that way and otherwise what's the point, we might as well just press the button now and blow the whole thing up if we're not going to strive for it to be better. So that's the way I see it, just - even something good could come from Donald Trump if he is smart enough; if I was him I'd think 'Right, I got away with that, I'm going to do something amazing now', and we'll see, I don’t know.
[00:58:51.14] Time will tell, time will tell, and we were talking about sayings earlier and I'd like to finish by sharing the newest saying I've heard which came, from all places, the US military, but I actually really like it, and it's a - if a shortcut worked then call it the way.
Yeah. I like it, yeah. It wouldn't be a shortcut, it would be the actual route you take, yeah, so that makes sense.
[00:59:20.25] So life lessons from the US military, anything is possible.
Yeah, Bob Dylan ? one quote that ? mind before when you mentioned it was - It's not so much a quote, he was asked, in his book 'The Chronicles' there's a bit where he says 'People always asked me what was the best advice given?' So I always remember this in Dylan's book he said his grandmother said to him 'Always be good to anyone you meet because you don't know what they're going through or they might be going through' so, I mean, that's just a brilliant, sound piece of simple worldly advice that I - I always think of it all the time when I'm out in a bar or supermarket, you know, people can be rude, bump into you, don't say 'Sorry', you hold the door for someone, they don't thank you. I do, I tend to, I always comes into my head just be - because that person doesn't know that I might just had some bad news and they're just - they're not being very kind so, basic stuff like that we can all pass on all the time without costing anything so that, for me, is a good way of looking at things. Just be - it's as easy to be good at it as it is to be bad at it.
[01:00:29.08] Sure is, sure is. Damon, thank you so much for your time and sharing your positivity really and…
[01:00:36.15] Yeah, mostly, thank you.
Confused positivity, I think to call it.
[01:00:42.06] Confused positivity with an aspirational - to inspire towards positivity, anyway.
[01:00:47.02] And that's a prerequisite for being on the show.
[01:00:53.17] Thanks, really.
Thanks, Donal, cheers.
[01:00:56.29] That was brilliant, thank you.