Known as the quiet half of Eurythmics, Dave Stewart has always had a lot going on in the background. With a new solo album out, he tells Andy Welch about being inspired by his roots, and working with Nashville’s best, and recording in mid-ocean.
Stewart (61) has recently stepped up to the microphone with a series of low-key country blues albums, a return – via Nashville – to his spiritual roots in the north-east of England.
“It was Nashville that brought me back around to remembering what I used to do,” he says. “When I was a teenager, I used to write songs on an acoustic guitar, and then go to play them in a folk club to try them out. When I’m in Nashville, it’s a similar thing. I’ll go to what’s called a guitar pull, where everyone sits there and a guitar goes around and everyone plays a song.”
Lucky Numbers Stewart’s latest album, is his third in as many years and recorded with the same band of Nashville players, all seasoned session musicians with serious connections. John McBride is Stewart’s co-producer and engineer, and husband of Martina McBride, known as “the Celine Dion of Country Music”. She features on the album, as does Karen Elson, the supermodel and ex-wife of Jack White.
“The last three or four years, of course, Nashville’s gone through the roof,” says Stewart. So, he and his gang packed up some vintage equipment and headed for the Pacific Ocean – on a boat that just happened to be kitted out with a recording studio.
Stewart is also working on an 80-minute film to accompany the album in Los Angeles, where he lives with Dutch photographer wife Anoushka Fisz and their two young daughters. It’s about a rich man who throws it all away on one wild gamble after getting drunk one night. “He wakes up in the morning and realises what he’s done. He’s bought a circus, which is a bit like my life, really,” says Stewart.