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Author Topic: Major Interview with MK in today's Times  (Read 5365 times)

Offlinegoon525

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Major Interview with MK in today's Times
« on: March 21, 2019, 09:20:52 AM »
ARTS
Mark Knopfler: I’ve never liked musicals, so I wrote one
Mark Knopfler, 69, on how he’s putting Local Hero on stage, embarking on a solo tour — and why his band Dire Straits will not get back together

Ed Potton
March 21 2019, 12:01am,
The Times
Music
Film
Mark Knopfler: “I don’t know whether I can do it. You should be worried about me”
Mark Knopfler: “I don’t know whether I can do it. You should be worried about me”
JOBY SESSIONS/FUTURE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
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Hidden down a side street in west London is British Grove Studios, a converted children’s book warehouse that contains what the producer and engineer Glyn Johns calls “the best listening room in the world”. The studio belongs to Mark Knopfler, the former singer, songwriter and lead guitarist of Dire Straits, who has won four Grammys and sold more than 100 million albums. When you’re worth $100 million you can afford a very nice listening room.

Inside, Knopfler is preparing for a hefty solo tour and the opening of Local Hero, a new stage musical of the Bafta-winning film whose haunting soundtrack he wrote in 1983, and for which he has written “at least 20” new songs. The 69-year-old has a low tolerance for showbiz bullshit, having disbanded Dire Straits when they became too unwieldy and refusing to turn up when the band were admitted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio last year. So his publicist has been banished today — I’ve just been given the address and told to turn up.

And here Knopfler is, unannounced, dressed in dad uniform of shirt, V-neck jumper and jeans. In my surprise I slightly overdo the greetings. “You’ve asked me how I am three times,” he says with a little smile. “Are you worried about me?” There’s a pause. “You absolutely should be worrying about me. Look at this tour. It’s quite a big one and I’m still tossing up as to whether I can actually do the damn thing. Look at this musical that’s just about to start. I don’t know whether I can actually do it. So you should be extremely worried about me.”

Writing a musical, he says as we sit down in one of the high-ceilinged recording rooms, is “totally new for me. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know anything about musicals other than mostly I don’t really like them. I didn’t want to write a musical-y musical.” So we shouldn’t expect any jazz hands? “I haven’t seen any,” he says.

His accent still has a slight Newcastle burr and Knopfler considers himself a Geordie, like his teacher mother (his Hungarian father was an architect). He spent the first seven years of his life in Glasgow, however, not too far from where Local Hero is set on the west coast. Another reason, perhaps, why he has such an attachment to it. “I love the film,” he says. “I feel very close to it. Even when the actors are reading it, I just get emotional.” Its music now has links to the North East too: the twanging riffs of Knopfler’s Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero are played before every Newcastle United home game.


Directed by Bill Forsyth (Gregory’s Girl), the film starred Peter Riegert as Mac, an American oil executive who is sent to the fictional Scottish village of Ferness. His eccentric boss, Felix (Burt Lancaster), wants to buy it up to make way for a refinery, but Mac ends up falling in love with the place.

Is it strange to be revisiting characters from 1983? Knopfler nods. “And writing songs for them.” He hopes that the musical, the book of which was written by Forsyth and David Greig, will have the bittersweet spirit of the film. And, although he won’t say, you would expect the new music to have a similar Celtic-bluesy introspection — finger-picking guitar, sad synths, smoky sax. His music was always suited to the screen — Dire Straits’ brooding Brothers in Arms once accompanied a climactic scene in The West Wing.

Peter Riegert and Christopher Rozycki in the 1983 film Local Hero, which Knopfler is turning into a musical
Peter Riegert and Christopher Rozycki in the 1983 film Local Hero, which Knopfler is turning into a musical
ALAMY
He understands, though, that you can’t just “pick the film up and stick it on to the stage. It has to be its own thing. The music should conjure up certain things that the camera would do differently.” In some ways the tunes have to do more work this time, evoking landscapes, especially Ferness’s beautiful beach, that can’t be created on stage.

There is an awkward modern resonance, of course, to the idea of a brash American buying up chunks of Scottish wilderness. “Everybody was very keen to get away from that,” Knopfler says, wincing slightly. Which is understandable. Yet he refuses to judge anyone who has been tempted by Donald Trump’s dollars in the US president’s quest to build a golf course in Aberdeenshire. In the film many of the villagers accept Mac’s offer.

To survive on the west coast of Scotland during the Eighties you needed “two or three jobs”, Knopfler says. “There’d be crofting, and then there’d be a bit of fishing, and so if you could get something else, that was a winner. If somebody was going to open a golf club up there, I wouldn’t condemn locals for wanting to get the work that would accrue from that.” Another pause. “Irrespective of how you might feel about certain individuals.”

He has been writing songs about ordinary people for years, from Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing, with its cursing shop assistant, to My Bacon Roll from his recent solo album Down the Road Wherever, which imagines a pensioner sitting in a greasy spoon café “in a state of bewilderment at the pace of life”. One of the reasons he’s so interested in blue-collar folk is that he was one for a while, working on building sites and doing other manual jobs. “If you’ve never unloaded a lorry, you’re actually missing out on something,” he says. “It all goes in somewhere.”

Of course, it’s not quite the same when you’re a multimillionaire. “It is a different world now for me,” he says. “I understand that. I don’t unload lorries any more, and I’m glad that I don’t.”

Yet something can be gained from revisiting events from a distance. Salman Rushdie once said that the most important quality a writer could have is a good memory. Maybe the same goes for a songwriter? “Yes, that’s part of it,” Knopfler says. “If you’re a father [he has two sons by his second wife, Lourdes Salomone, and two daughters by his third, the actress and writer Kitty Aldridge, with whom he lives in London], it changes the way that you look at the past. The thing that you might have just tucked away, you would all of a sudden hold up to look at.”

The cast of Local Hero at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh
The cast of Local Hero at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh
IAIN MASTERTON/ALAMY
His eye for detail and telling vignettes may come, he agrees, from his previous life as a journalist. He trained with Philip Webster, who went on to become political editor of The Times and remains a friend. After finishing joint top of his class with Webster, Knopfler worked as a reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post, then as an English lecturer. “But there was no way I was going to do it for more than three years because by then the songs were pushing and pushing so hard. It was like being pregnant.”

While he adores songwriting, he says it has “limited me as a musician quite a lot, whereas other people are studying the instrument and moving forward”. Despite being considered one of the best guitarists in the world, he thinks he’s the weakest link in his band. “Oh yeah. I don’t have to support a family on my playing. I couldn’t live that way like my guys do.”

There have also been moments when he has questioned what he calls his “smart arse” character songs. Money for Nothing has been criticised, and was even banned by a Canadian radio station, for its use of the word “faggot” in lines such as: “That little faggot got his own jet airplane/ That little faggot, he’s a millionaire.” It’s about a bigoted shop assistant slagging off a celebrity, Knopfler explains. “I was trying to reflect the way he was talking. He’s just a complete moron.”

That distinction was lost on some, however, and he admits that “today I don’t think I would probably do it that way. I would have said something else.” When he plays the song live he sings “motherf***er” or “little f***er” instead. “It’s a lot milder, motherf***er!” No moans of political correctness from Knopfler, though. “No,” he says firmly. “I think Me Too is a perfect . . . It’s got to go the way it’s going.”

As Dire Straits, which he founded with his brother David, got bigger, he got less interested. “Well, you would,” he says. “There’s an optimum size and you go beyond it because the business is so devouring. It all just seemed to happen automatically without my actually being aware of it.” Suddenly they had “two or three” stages and he didn’t know all the names of his expanding backstage crew. So after a brief second stint the band split in 1995. I have to ask the obvious question: will they ever reform? He shakes his head. “It would just be greed that would make you wanna do that, so I’m not interested.”

Knopfler in Dire Straits in 1985Knopfler in Dire Straits in 1985
EBET ROBERTS/REDFERNS
Not that the songs show any sign of slipping away. Quite the opposite. While Dire Straits were once associated with a certain Mondeo-driving, Alan Partridge naffness, their music is being revived by a new generation. Bands including the 1975 and the War on Drugs are indebted to Dire Straits’ melancholic guitar melodies.

“It’s lovely,” Knopfler says. “It’s whatever floated across your vision when you were a certain, dangerous age: 14 to 18 or something? It doesn’t matter who it was. If you were a certain age and you were listening to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich [the Sixties British pop group], you will always have a soft spot for them. There’s no qualitative centre to it at all. It’s all wildly illogical.”

His taste was shaped by his mother singing songs from South Pacific “when I was crawling about on the floor”, then Listen With Mother, Scottish country dancing and, perhaps most of all, the blues. He once memorably described what he does as “where the Mississippi Delta meets the Tyne”. He smiles. “It’s a kind of transatlantic blues,” he says. “Something like that, anyway.”

On the way out he gives me a tour of the studio, like a gardener showing off his prizewinning geraniums. Recent clients include the Who and Disney’s forthcoming Aladdin movie. The philosophy is “best of the old, best of the new”, so vintage tape machines sit cheek by jowl with state-of-the-art mixing desks.

So many toys, and it all leads back to that sponge-like childhood. “I remember this American jazz musician saying to me, ‘How do you create those melodies? Man, it sounds like they’re a thousand years old,’ ” says Knopfler as he sees me out. “It’s just from absorbing a lot of that music at an early age. It doesn’t seem like a foreign language.”
Local Hero is at the Lyceum, Edinburgh (0131 248 4848), to May 4, before moving to the Old Vic in London in 2020. Mark Knopfler is touring the UK from May 18

Offlinegoon525

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Re: Major Interview with MK in today's Times
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2019, 09:21:34 AM »
Sorry about the lack of editing, but at least I got the whole thing in.

OfflinePottel

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Re: Major Interview with MK in today's Times
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2019, 09:42:08 AM »
Sorry about the lack of editing, but at least I got the whole thing in.
Nice one! Did not know some of the facts in here. (Philipp Webster, top of his class etc...)

sent from my Samsung Galaxy 9+ via tapatalk

any Knopfler, Floyd or Dylan will do....

Offlinesuperval99

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Re: Major Interview with MK in today's Times
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2019, 09:55:50 AM »
Thank you, Goon525!    It always amazes me that these days almost every interview gives his album sales as 100 million - it has now gone down from 120 million!   Nice interview though.   :)
Goin' into Tow Law....

Offlinegoon525

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Re: Major Interview with MK in today's Times
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2019, 10:15:02 AM »
Interesting that at the John Illsley evening last week, we were told that BiA, which I’d always believed had sold somewhere between 25 and 30 million, had actually sold over 40 million.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2019, 12:25:06 PM by goon525 »

Offlinedmg

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Re: Major Interview with MK in today's Times
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2019, 12:23:37 PM »
Sorry about the lack of editing, but at least I got the whole thing in.
Nice one! Did not know some of the facts in here. (Philipp Webster, top of his class etc...)

sent from my Samsung Galaxy 9+ via tapatalk

Yeah.  Thought that was really interesting.

Thanks for posting!  :thumbsup
"I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order."

 

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