David Ford jumps in a barrel of weasels
David Ford releases his fourth long-player, Charge, this March. We caught up with the singer/songwriter ahead of his upcoming tours of the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States and had a conversation about writing, recording, politics, being the king of the world and a worthless piece of crap:
Talk us through the creation of your new album. Did you approach it in a different way than you have with previous records or is it a consistent process?
There’s nothing consistent about making a record. There is a process but it’s like jumping into a barrel of weasels; you just have to get in, see what happens and hope you don’t get too damaged by it.
Generally speaking, how do your songs come to you? Is it an organic process, with a lyric or a melody popping into your head and growing from there or so you sit in your studio and think, ‘right, I’m going to write a song about such-and-such now’?
I have always been an accidental songwriter. I wait for songs to come and find me. It’s a pretty disempowering way of life and it makes me distinctly less prolific than the more industrious sit-down-and-write-a-song kind of songwriter but I also like to think I approach the craft with a degree of quality control that borders on self-sabotage. It’s all very well sitting around and waiting for the muse but if the muse shows up with some lame bullshit, it’s not going on the record.
Because you write and record largely on your own, do you find it hard to keep perspective and to be objective about your work? Do you bounce your ideas off anyone and, if so, at what stage?
It’s a very solitary experience and this might be the most solo of my solo records. Perspective and objectivity are some of the hardest things to achieve and recognise. Working in isolation is all a matter hitting the right balance between boundless self-confidence and crippling self-doubt and it’s really important to have both. The confidence allows you to be ambitious while the doubt keeps you from becoming unacceptably self-indulgent. Consequently, it’s a period of violent mood swings and paranoia during which I am both the king of the world and the most worthless piece of crap squished upon it. Some great records are built from the creative and personal tensions that exist within bands. I like to think I have those bases covered all by myself. Once the last mix is down, I revert to being a pretty well-balanced, regular guy.
You’ll be touring the new record in the UK and the US in the first part of the year. Your tours often differ hugely in terms of the stage dynamic. Sometimes you play alone, other times you have performed with a 13-piece band. Have you decided what shape your tour will take?
I’ll be putting together a show I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Instead of the standard live spectacle of support acts and a headliner, all the acts are going to come together to form a band for the duration of the tour. I’m teaming up with two American artists, Jarrod Dickenson and Emily Grove, and we’re going to get together and all play on each other’s songs with my longstanding drummer of choice, Joey Love. The evening will be geared toward the songs on my new album but I’m hoping it will be a beautifully inclusive, totally vibesome musical experience for musician and audience alike.
A number of your songs deal with politics and often American politics. Did you keep up to date with last year’s Presidential elections and what did you make of it all?
I must confess I was not nearly as caught up in the election excitement as I have been for previous presidential campaigns. These days I tend more toward a gaping wonder at the democratic processes the world has evolved. Around 90% of the entire planet’s supply of ironic contradiction is expended during the election process… Like the very fact that during an economic crisis, the winner is the person who can spend the largest sum of money and have nothing tangible to show for it.
You’ve discussed your career and the music industry in both your book and your songs. If you could travel in time back to the start of your solo career and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Chill the fuck out you stupid little man. None of this is really that important.”
Your book was well received. Any plans to write another one?
No immediate plans as such but it’s definitely something I’d like to do. The trouble with writing a book about the last ten years of my own life is that the most appropriate sequel cannot be written for another decade. And fiction is quite a leap too. My first book was a simple matter of remembering and embellishing, only occasionally making stuff up in the name of a good story. To rely solely on the making-stuff-up part of the process appears to me fraught with difficulty and I like to think that I’m not a great liar. But you never know, if I find myself with a spare six months and nothing to do, I may well step up with another nugget of literature.
How did 2012 treat you generally and what are your hopes for 2013?
2012 had the good manners to pretty much leave me alone and not make too big a deal of its passing. 2013 has already announced its presence as a crazy bastard of a year. A real twisted character. I fully expect it to be a time of strange and baffling moments that sneak up and drop their trousers when least expected. Do not be surprised if a year from now, I am the Venezuelan Foreign Minister.
Pre-order the album here. Catch David on tour in the UK/Ireland in March/April and in the US in June. For dates and tickets, go here. The album, Charge, is released in March. To keep up to date with news of how to order it, keep an eye on Ford’s Facebook and for general ramblings follow him on Twitter.
Interview by Bobby Townsend