James Blunt Talks "Some Kind Of Trouble," The Blues, "Turn Me On," and More
Thu, 20 Jan 2011 16:36:24
Trouble is just way more fun when James Blunt causes it.
On his third studio album, Some Kind Of Trouble, the British singer-songwriter traps a youthful sense of sonic wonder like lightning in a bottle. The album stands out as Blunt's most intriguing, invigorating, and inspiring work yet. Lead-off single, "Stay the Night," bounces with a California-style soul, while "Turn Me On" is a sexy, sleek jam bordering on boot-knockin' blues. Some Kind of Trouble sees Blunt doing what he does best, crafting unforgettable songs, while venturing into new territory victoriously.
James Blunt sat down for an exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Some Kind Of Trouble, his biggest influences, the story behind "Turn Me On," and so much more.
Pick up Some Kind Of Trouble now!
Did you have one complete vision for Some Kind Of Trouble or did it come together song by song in the studio?
To begin with, I didn't know exactly what it was I wanted to do, but I knew what I didn't want to do; I didn't want to repeat myself. I wanted to use the opportunities that were open to me in order to have fun. It became clear when I wrote the very first song, "Dangerous." That was a quintessential moment. I was supposed to meet up with Steve Robson for a beer. We had been introduced by my drummer. I met him at his studio. He was messing around on the piano, so I picked up an electric guitar of his and we immediately wrote "Dangerous." It was exciting, and it was naive in a way. I felt like a teenager. I said, "Why don't I come in the next day and record it?" I recorded a demo, and that sounded good. I came in a third day, and the process just continued. It flowed out that way. The moment I wrote "Dangerous," I knew where the album was going to go.
Would you say the album has a youthful fire?
Absolutely! There is a slight sense of innocence again—which I found really exciting—and there was a slight sense of this teenage excitement. For me, it's been a pleasure to have that re-injected into the music.
What's the story behind the first single, "Stay the Night?"
The whole album was written and recorded in London, England. Apart from "Stay the Night," we wrote it out in California. I was out there with Steve, and we bumped into Ryan Tedder [OneRepublic]. If it sounds like we're around a campfire, it was pretty close to that scenario. All three of us had guitars, and we pulled them out. Ryan has got a lot of overflowing energy, and you can hear the influences of California around us.
The song fits well within the landscape of all the other songs too.
Yeah, it's definitely one of the happiest songs that I've ever written, and it's still going to fit into what I do. It's still a song based around real instruments, song structure, and lyrics.
Is it important for you to tell stories and paint pictures?
I don't think I necessarily set out to do that. Perhaps that's an indication of how my own mind works. I'm explaining things to myself, and somebody who might listen to that. I enjoy the way it might paint a picture. I've recently started to think about it, and I enjoy the way it might do that. I really have enjoyed that realization. I enjoy being able to explain real emotion and things that I feel within myself through the eyes of other people. "Heart of Gold" is a great example of that. "Superstar" is too. However, it's a really an unfortunate title because people might associate it with someone in the music business, but instead it's about the world we live in today being so full of the notion of people aspiring to fame and fortune, when in fact, we should perhaps aspire to being happy or following our own path.
Did you aim incorporate an old school blues feel into the album?
I really have enjoyed that. We tracked this in [Dire Straits] Mark Knopfler's studio. I think there are moments where you can hear we know that and we're aware of that in our own recording. It was about having all of these things available to me. There were some great musicians. I brought in my own band as well as many musicians from all over the place. We really dialed in on having fun and expressing ourselves not only just through the vocals but through the instrumentation.
What's up with "Turn Me On?"
It's one of my favorites, and I wrote and recorded it in about hours with Eg White. It's a spontaneous moment; it's a little explosion that's so much fun. We play that live, and it goes down really well. It's simple. All of the instrumentation is sort of a mess that works.
Lyrically, it shows your sense of humor.
It does, and I haven't managed to portray that in many other songs on my previous albums. I'm happy for that. The album runs track one through eleven, and that's un-lucky number 13 on the end with a gap between eleven and thirteen. In a way, it's been highlighted even more being there.
If you were to compare Some Kind of Trouble to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I hadn't thought about that! There's a movie called Being There with Peter Sellers. It's like an old school Forrest Gump. It's a classic. There's a great innocence to it, and people will portray whatever they like on to it. They can portray themselves onto those songs. That comparison works well.
Which artists shaped you?
I come from a relatively naïve musical background. My parents only had three albums I reckon of—The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and that one Don McLean album. That's a relatively good background for it. There are great singer-songwriters of the '70s like Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, and Cat Stevens. I love Paul Simon. I think all of his music is really special. I come back to what he does a lot. I go back to David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, and I enjoy The Bee Gees for their recording. You don't want to try to sound like other people but you can't help it along the way. Everybody's shaped by something.
Have you heard Some Kind Of Trouble yet?