Whether it be as an iconic member of Eurythmics or an award-winning producer, Dave Stewart continues to revolutionise the music industry with new developments.
His forthcoming album ‘Lucky Numbers‘ will be no different. Released on October 7th 2013, ‘Lucky Numbers‘ will be an 11-track cinematic narrative focussing on the life of a gambler and his intoxicated decision to purchase a fully operational, mostly dysfunctional, circus.
Taking to his co-founded venue of The Hospital Club, London, Inveterate took the opportunity to gain a sneak insight into the forthcoming video release of ‘Every Single Night’ and have a detailed discussion about what lies in store for the videos, Eurythmics and, most importantly, himself.
‘Every Single Night’, which was filmed and recorded in 11.1 surround sound, will be part of a bigger musical storyline, similar to the work of The Beatles for Hard Day’s Night, and due for release next year. Through the use of their app, due for a free release to the public later in the year, DTS has developed ‘Headphone-X’ that provides the user a full audio-visual entertainment experience.
This is what Dave Stewart had to say:
How are you today?
I’m really well thank you, what did you think of that (video) experience?
It was pretty incredible, as the 11.1 surround sound compliments the track so well, but how was it recording the video and the producing the whole storyline concept?
Well, the storyline is part of a narrative that will blend into a film that has lots of songs in it.
What we had to do with this DTS experiment was extract an element that is at the end of the movie when I realise that I had not lost all my money, but whilst really drunk I bought a circus. Then, I had to make this failing circus work.
Once I had that concept in my head, it was a case of what type of circus had I bought?
Funnily enough, I met this lovely girl in LA called Rita D’Albert, of Lucha VaVoom, who owns this crazy circus of Mexican wrestlers and burlesque dancers. I ended up partnering with her and I’ll be aiming to add that to my live shows – a full rock and roll circus.
So, in fact, some of the people appearing within the video are actually a part of Lucha VaVoom.
Once I knew about being on board with them, it was a case of making scenes where the music could disappear and there would be something else – whether that be wrestling, rain pouring or me throwing knives at my partner Rita.
The only difficult thing was trying to do it in two days, in 105 degrees, in a tent, with a full suit on.
Speaking about the production, how hard was it to get everything so precise, whether it be the sound, video or acting, within the two days?
I mean you imagine those two days, it was literally like a circus; it was bedlam. When we say two days, it’s not two normal days, it’s two actual days.
It was made by my production company, Weapons Of Mass Entertainment, so all of the guys are fantastic and great cinematographers, photographers, editors. It was more a really strong collaboration between ourselves and the DTS team for the sound.
Even though we were in the middle of a desert, elephant, costumes, tents et al, we all got on great and no-one argued. We were just all running around like “s*** we’ve got to do this” or “the elephant is coming out, help”.
Talking of Weapons Of Mass Entertainment, earlier this week saw the première of your co-directed movie ‘In Your Dreams’, with Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), how did this dynamic project come about?
Funnily enough, me and Stevie actually met thirty years ago and we got on really well and said that “one day we’ll do something great”. To our surprise, it was thirty years later. We showed that at the end of the movie.
To be fair, I’ve always been experimenting with film, video and music from an early age. The first single for Eurythmics was of Annie (Lennox) wearing white face paint. The first videos were my story lines about how we should have a cow wandering. I’ve always been involved.
I’ve just now moved on with a company that makes everything from documentaries to features, to television series. I’ve always encouraged creative collaboration and, in fact, that’s why I created this club (The Hospital Club, London) in the first place. It was so creative members could naturally meet and collaborate.
Talking about your past with Eurythmics, what do you think it was about the two of you that encouraged such commercial success?
We never thought we were making anything commercial, even when we made the ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ album.
After three single releases, we went with ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ as the release and the record label just didn’t get it. They just kept questioning where the chorus was and I just kept explaining that the whole song is practically a chorus.
However, I think it was the intensity between Annie and myself. We had lived together for five years, and then we broke up and decided to be a duo, but it wasn’t like my mate next door. It was someone that was so emotionally tangled that song-writing would happen by the time the song finished and we wouldn’t remember how it happened.
I think people could feel, despite them being pop structured songs, something else there.
You’ve reformed and returned to hiatus on numerous occasions, with the last time being back in 2005, but do you foresee the two of you ever producing anything musically together again?
It’s probably not going to be in a straight forward way.
We are asked all the time by promoters to perform again as you could imagine…
…For those much loved reunion tours?
Yes. You see all the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s bands being wheeled out.
We’ve always been experimental, even right at our peak (say ‘Revenge’) we were playing stadiums with our rock album. Then we released ‘Savage’, which was entirely electronic, and our first single ‘Beethoven (I Love to Listen To)’ was just weird.
It had Annie singing on it, well you can’t really call it singing as it’s just weirdness.
That sort of translates to your production abilities, as you do seem to be comfortable transitioning from one style to another as portrayed with your work alongside acts like Orianthi (Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper) and Ringo Starr (The Beatles), but how do you do adapt to these continuous style changeovers?
Yes, I’ve worked with a lot of people.
A lot of producers try to leave their mark, like a stamp, whereas if I’m with Tom Petty, I want it to sound like Tom Petty and I’ll just offer some slight influence. If it’s Sinead O’Connor, I want it to be Sinead O’Connor.
My thing is letting it be them and I’ll give the add-ons. I don’t really produce the records, it’s usually just a case of “we’ve wrote a few songs and we need to record them” and I just happen to be the guy that knows how to do it.
You worked on the production for Ghost The Musical, which is currently out on a UK tour, how did you get involved with this adaptation?
I was approached by the producers and I asked to meet the original screenplay writer (Bruce Joel Rubin), who wrote one of my favourite films called Jacob’s Ladder – a very weird film. I met him and he was great, but I brought in my friend Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Michael Jackson) to co-write it. It took about six years to write. It’s now on tour in seven countries at the same time.
What is weird is that when it is in Germany, it is in German, and when open it’s in Korea, it’s in Korean. A simple thing like rhyming, the German word for butterfly is schmetterling, so if you’ve got a rhyme like “float like a butterfly” then you’ve suddenly got schmetterling and you have to start again.
With it now out on tour, why should people spend the time to check it out?
What is always great is when you go to the ticket selling websites, or the theatre sites themselves, and, if they have customer comments, you will see that Ghost is a real people piece.
Every night, there will be people crying, laughing and providing standing ovations. Although the film had a glossy, cheesy, feel to it, the writers and directors wanted the story to be very Shakespearean. After all, the main character is shot and dead within the first ten minutes. That was the funniest, how do you write a musical for someone who is dead throughout the whole thing?
This is about you grasping the moment and if you don’t then you will regret it, as in the film he says “ditto” instead of “I love you” and it haunts him. It hits a lot of strong cords in people’s minds.
When writing music, it’s quite easy for me to write something in a minor key and then add a natural note to understand that it will affect emotions. Now when you’re working with a script writer that knows when you add this one word or scene, it can become quite potent.
Bringing the focus back towards your forthcoming album ‘Lucky Numbers’; Jon McBride features throughout the recording process, but how did he influence the production?
He is more a person who is quite obsessive and compulsive, but a genius.
I’m more a large paint brush kind of guy and he was just like, “I’ll get out that 1946 microphone”.
With a series of guest features, including Martina McBride and Vanessa Amorosi, what encouraged you to bring so many different vocal verticals to the record?
Karen Elson, who does the duet on ‘Nashville Snow’, has one of the most beautiful voices. They all have a sound in their voices that fits.
Martina has that clear of the bell sound on the single, whilst Karen Elson has that very melancholy sound, and Vanessa is just a killer singer with massive amounts of harmony comprehension.
That being said, on the last album, I did duets with Alison Krauss and Joss Stone, so two completely different singers.
With a collection of live dates across Europe, mostly Germany, over the next few months, should we expect a Dave Stewart UK performance any time soon?
Well the last year was unfortunate for many personal reasons and led to me cancelling my visit across, but I always want to play in my home town of Sunderland, and England in general.
It is one of those things that no matter what you’ve done in life, you want to go back and be like “I’m back, I’ve been round the world, but I’m here”. I’d really like to bring my Nashville players there too.
Forthcoming tour dates aside, what lies next in store for you?
I’ve got three television series going to cable and network channels in America, all music based, and I’ve got two movies in pre-production there. Everything has music involved. So, I’m just doing a lot of music projects really.
That spans into our final question that if you had the opportunity to produce or work alongside any act, who would it be and why?
Whenever I’ve been on stage playing live with Stevie Wonder, I’ve always gone “this would be great to be in a room with him”, but I’d love to do something where I wouldn’t want any computers and get him to play the drums, the bass, and everything else himself.
I wouldn’t even want to produce it, I’d just like to watch it.
A while ago, he flew over to give me and Annie the lifetime achievement award. We hung out every day and went to a Japanese restaurant, just round the corner from here, and he would just tell these amazing stories. He’s just music.
For more information on Dave Stewart‘s developments, visit: davestewart.com