Blues maverick Son of Dave heads to Teesside this month so Reece Hanrahan caught up with him to talk about his new album, 70s cop shows, and the challenges of performing solo.
This year has seen the release of your eighth solo LP…that certainly is an impressive repertoire of work. How do you decide that you’re ready to start work on a new album?
It isn’t a whimsical choice – I don’t wait around for the muse to tell me to make an album – I put an album out every other year to survive. Without an album, I can’t have a tour. Promoters won’t book an act unless there’s something to talk about and people won’t come to a show unless they think something new is happening. That said, there’s no shortage of songs to write. The moment I go into the barn, tunes start coming. I hum things into a Dictaphone on a drunken walk home at night and these things pile up. In fact, I wish I could be making two albums per year. It’s hard work, but fun too. But I don’t have the time or money to do that.
You’ve been described as an idiosyncratic bluesman. What was it that initially attracted you to the genre of blues?
I found a harmonica in my Christmas stocking – it was either put there by God, Santa or Dave. I took to it, became addicted. They took me to a child psychologist who asked my parents, “How long has your son had the blues”? I saw James Cotton perform at the Winnipeg Folk Festival when I was about twelve, then I knew what the instrument was for.
The blues is known for having a rich history and legacy within music. What do you feel that your music brings to a genre that has had so much come before?
Very few people dig very deep into blues music. Once you do, you know it’s not niche. Swing, jive, boogie-woogie, rock ‘n’ roll, doo wop…blues doesn’t sit off in a corner; it’s connected to everything else. It’s been confused and relegated to a rack of its own because of the cult of the guitar solo which made it repetitive and annoying to people for a couple of decades. I don’t just dust it off and wheel it out again, I’ve lived off the stuff since I was a kid because of the harmonica.
Your latest album is called ‘Music for Cop Shows’ and is a humorous satire of 70s cop shows. What was it that made you choose this format for the new album?
If you have to explain a joke, it isn’t funny anymore. I’m not satirising, I’m advertising. I had a few tunes put into modern crime drama shows and Netflix programs including Breaking Bad, Preacher, and Bloodline. I’ve always wanted to have a tune used as the theme to a TV program. To me, the golden age of the TV show theme song was the 1970s. Maybe one of these will get picked up eh? Ha ha ha. Maybe I’ll name the next album ‘Hit Songs for Radio’. It’ll amuse me and my fans while the media school graduates stare at their screens.
Do you find any challenges in performing solo as opposed to being beside a full band?
Screw-ups mean the song comes tumbling down. If my trousers split, there’s nobody else to distract the audience. There’s also much more pressure. It’s physically and mentally more challenging and it’s challenging for the audience too.
Son of Dave plays The Green Room, Stockton on Friday 10th November. Tickets, priced at £12.50 in advance, are available from teesmusicalliance.org.uk.