Writer / songwriter, musician and singer David Sinclair is readying a new David Sinclair 4 for release on IRL and planning a tour to promote it – this includes a Borderline date in London in May. Time for one of our (customised) 20 Questions features, we venture
- Name a piece of music that manages to relax you – artist / title / source album
I’m always relaxed. But one song that makes me feel super-chilled is Nina Simone’s “My Baby Just Cares for me”. There’s something about her voice and that one-note piano break. It’s like ice clinking in a long, cool drink.
- What is your favourite musical piece opening a film ? and why ?
“Far From Any Road” by the Handsome Family which is the title theme for the HBO crime drama True Detective starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It’s not a film strictly speaking; it’s way better. The song sets the tone perfectly for the Southern gothic vibe of the story. It’s got an otherworld-Americana melody and a truly spine-tingling lyric: “When the last light warms the rocks/And the rattlesnakes unfold/Mountain cats will come/To drag away your bones.” Yay! Otherwise, Ennio Morricone’s themes to any of Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns always sound amazing. You can almost taste the dust and gunsmoke in the air.
- Do you ever depart from standard guitar tuning for any composing or live performances ?
Never have. I’m still figuring out standard tuning. I don’t even own a capo.
- What’s the most musical town or city you have ever visited ? worldwide, that is
Does Glastonbury count? Otherwise it’s Nashville, by a short head, in front of Memphis and Austin. Music just seeps out from the pores of these cities. The musicians there are immersed in a range of mystical traditions: country, blues, soul, Americana. And they have all done their 10,000 hours – and more! Even the buskers in the park are virtuosos.
- When reviewing liver performances, which genre gives you the most quandaries or problems ? and why ?
There’s a certain sort of MOR/pop show where the audience is loving every moment and I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing there. Donny & Marie Osmond, Lady Antebellum, Westlife; you don’t want to rain on everyone’s parade but…
- Which album cover best sums up that longplayer’s contents ? For me, it’s hard to beat the Doors’ Strange Days
Black And Blue by the Rolling Stones. It’s just a massively up-front picture of the five saturnine faces looming out of a blue sky-and-seawater backdrop. I’ve got it as the screensaver on my phone.
- Where might a listener new to the works of Tom Waits start off ? and why ?
I’d say the three albums on Island in the mid-1980s – Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Franks Wild Years – would be the place to go. Waits is a genius narrator who has turned into one of the characters in the stories that he tells. These albums are where you’ll find him in his pomp. Alternatively, you could start with my song “The Click-Clack Man” which I wrote about an interview I did with Waits… in my dreams.
- Suggest a guitar break that really enhances a song you like – artist ./ title / source album
Mick Ralphs’s intro to “All The Young Dudes” by Mott The Hoople is pretty heraldic.
- ( I find it hard to resist asking this one ) What track or recording would you cross the room to turn off, if it came on the radio ?
Never done that.
- Did you read comics as a child ? if so, which ones and why ?
OMG yes! I was a child of the Superman DC era. I read them all. Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, The Atom, The Justice League of America, J’onn J’onzz – The Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Aquaman. That’s what kids read back then, I guess.
- Name a great debut album and tell us about its impact
Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience was a game changer in every department. It revolutionised rock guitar playing right there. But even now people overlook Hendrix’s skill as a singer and a songwriter. He wrote the whole of that album in the months immediately after he arrived in London. Foxy Lady, Manic Depression, Red House, Fire, Love or Confusion….Who knew he had songs like that in him? Where did they come from?
- Charles Mingus or Ray Charles ?
Ray Charles. Hallelujah! Love that Jamie Foxx film too.
- Do you have a favourite train song ? – artist / title / source album
“Traintime” by Cream on Wheels of Fire is incredible. Jack Bruce’s harmonica & vocal is epic, but check out Ginger Baker’s brushed-snare drumming too. Also Chuck Berry’s “Let it Rock”.
- Name an ace cut by The Temptations
“Get Ready” is the killer, right? “I’m bringing you a love that’s true so get ready ‘cause here I come.” He’s sounding confident. Are dudes even allowed to say that kind of thing as part of the mating ritual these days?
- What accounts for the cinema verite tinge on many of your songs ?
Well a lot of my writing is observational. And I keep meeting these strange characters in my songs.
- Do you feel that you make City music ?
I’d like to think so. London is an incredible place to live and work. It’s where I’ve always wanted to be. The countryside looks nice enough. Trees and fields are all very well. But what are you going to do when you get there?
- Tell us a favourite song ending ? not a fade ! – artist / title / source album
“Since I’ve Been Loving You” on Led Zeppelin III. It’s got it all. Plant squirming and screeching; Bonham hammering nails into his kit; one last, surprise key change; and then a final, lilting twirl of the organ and a slithering guitar line at the death. It’s a perfect moment of post-orgasmic closure.
- What’s the DS4 diet, when on tour ?
MacDonald’s. We’re lovin’ it.
- Would you record a duet with a female singer ? I’m thinking P J Harvey or Siouxsie ( if available )
I’ve just recorded a duet with the Scottish jazz singer Lorna Reid on the new DS4 album. It’s called “Coming out of the Rain” about two lost souls who meet at the bottom of a bottle in a bar. I used up all my best pick-up lines in the song. But she still leaves me in the end. So I’m available if Polly’s got a date.
- Do you have a favourite song from the new DS4 album ? will you play this live ?
We’re going to play the whole album live – in sequence – at our launch gig at the Borderline on May 14. There’ll be a few guests to help out. We can talk about favourites after we’ve done that.
David Sinclair Four release their album ‘Four’ on IRL on Monday 11th May 2015. In addition, they will be playing an album launch on Thursday 14th May at The Borderline in London. For more information visit: www.davidsinclairfour.com