Interview with David Knopfler
Forty years is a long time… Did you ever think you really would work such a long time in the music business?
I've never really thought of making music as "work" and anyway it feels more like forty months than forty years. I remember at age seven wanting to be in a band. I moved to London as soon as I graduated from college to be nearer to my brother with the expectation that we'd work together as we did. My whole life has had the same momentum to the same direction. There's a quote attributed to the great German writer Goethe "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." and it seems to be borne out in practice. Joseph Campbell adapted it with the simple slogan "follow your bliss." When you do that, with a little luck and a tailwind too, if you act in good faith, you'll quite quickly have the momentum of a collective of other kindred spirits who share your vision and you won't go far wrong. If you ever stop doing that, or get sidelined by pettiness, materialism or other base motives, or caught up in other people's dramas, you'll hit obstructions and problems at every turn. You have to have talent and dedication and tenacity but above all that is the mystery of the art... and what makes artists can't be brewed up in a lab.
How does it feel to go back to the electric guitar? Is it exiting for you to work with a band on stage again? After all the years of touring with Harry Bogdanovs as duo.
There are things you can do with a duo that you can't do with a band and there are things you can do with a band that you can't do with the duo. This six piece is a bit of a fantasy line up for me… pretty much the dream line up and I'm pretty psyched about working together this these guys. Martin Ditcham and Pete Shaw have always made for a great rhythm section, and Martin has probably performed on more records than anyone could have in one collection. Harry Bodanovs is completely creative in all roles and much beloved - and we have worked together most of our adult lives, Bub Roberts is widely admired and respected and plays brilliant solos like no other can and he's played on a number of my albums, and Alan Clark is a consummate mystro on hammond. The fact we all really get along as buddies without any friction really helps too. What we all have in common is a willingness to serve the song. It should be perfect synergy and I'm looking forward, with humility and gratitude for the opportunity to see how far we can take it.
For me it also very interesting to hear some of your own songs in the set. In the officical press info I read that you will play a collection of your contemporary works in a more dramatic rock format. Do you mean songs from you ''Acoustic'' or ''Grace'' records?
Not entirely sure yet what that set will be yet but it will be the tracks most suited to the line up plus a few surprises. The idea is to attempt to cover 40 years worth of my material, including a modest nod to some Dire Straits material I performed in the late 1970s with Dire Straits - and obviously you can't entirely do that justice in one show - but I'm confident it'll be joyous, interesting and honest… minimum requirements.
Not many people know that Alan Clark is playing on a couple of your records. For an example ''Wishbones'' and ''Ship Of Dreams''. How did the cooperation with him come about?
Alan and I narrowly missed each other with him joining Dire Straits very shortly after I left but we met socially a couple of times around that same time and I was very struck by his playing. I subsequently invited him to play hammond on several of my albums and he did a great job. He has the innate ability to add hammond to exactly the amount it is needed and no more, and no less, and that is a subtle gift. His pedigree, playing with Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan and so forth, speaks for itself. He's kind of been our honorary extra band-member for awhile now so it seems fitting that we've finally found a way to take that out onto the road.
I heard that Alan Clark insists to play with a real Hammond B3 organ. He doesn't like to play with synthetic Keyboards. Is this true? That's a very special instrument. What this means for you personal?
It means the crew will have to have strong muscles… Moving Hammond's and Leslie speakers isn't for the faint of heart. A real hammond moves air in the way that no synth can (though some do a petty decent imitation) so I don't blame him for having that preference… Most hammond players would feel the same way if they aren't the ones responsible for moving them from show to show.
During the last tours many people loved the song ’’Jericho’’. Will you play it with the 6-pieces band, too? I heard there is a nice idea behind the lyrics? Can you tell us abou it?
It contains the titles of most of my albums in the lyrics. It might well be in the set. I'm not completely sure yet about anything - I've a bunch of ideas collecting weight but until we are rehearsing I'm not going to jinx anything with pre-announcements.
And is it not a bit special to connect irish/scottish pipes with that theme?
Sometimes unusual instruments are a good fit for unusual songs. I don't over-analyse it… Usually you'll instinctively just know what's going to work - once in awhile you'll make a spectacular mistake too - in this instance it worked.