Dave Stewart Talks New Solo Records, Eurythmics Past + ‘Adventurer’ Spirit
A couple of weeks after Dave Stewart released ‘Lucky Numbers,’ his third solo album in three years, Diffuser.fm caught up with the songwriter, musician and producer at his Los Angeles-based Weapons of Mass Entertainment production company. The Eurythmics co-founder and recent member of the supergroup Super Heavy (with Mick Jagger) keeps plenty busy these days, and in addition to running WME, his empire includes the Hospital, a multi-purposed arts and entertainment venue in London, and First Artist Ventures, which will launch First Artist Bank next year. Yes, a bank, as in a place that deals in money. But this one is geared to help musicians, artists and even fans make good cash choices that fit their lives.
Stewart combines his various artistic and business roles into a character called the Ringmaster General, named for a documentary he made a couple of years ago, or vice versa. Effusive, candid and funny, he spoke to Diffuser about his recent recordings as a solo artist and reminisced about the Eurythmics’ heyday. His Mad Hatter chatter fit nicely with his new carnivalesque wardrobe of colorful appliquéd jackets and a top hat — one of the many hats, physically and metaphorically, Stewart wears very well.
Hello! I’m here. I am on the Diffuser, diffusing.
Well, you’ve got to diffuse now and again haven’t you. Busy day of interviews?
Yes, it is, but it’s okay. Let’s get on with the cocoa pops.
‘Lucky Numbers’ is your third album in three years. Any reason for this big burst of creativity.
I didn’t really actually make a solo album for 13 or 14 years before this. I didn’t even realize that I had stopped making them, which was due to all sorts of things: I’ve got four children. I moved to America and set up this sort of crazy company I have here. I got involved in taking photographs and making documentaries, too.
What broke the musical dry-out then?
A few years ago, I got diverted to Nashville because of the volcanic eruption that grounded planes in Europe. I made a film about it called ‘The Ringmaster General.’ It’s about what happened to me. I got diverted to Nashville via Miami, and I thought I might as well meet somebody there. I hadn’t been to Nashville since 1983 when the Eurythmics played our one and only concert in Nashville. So, I met up with John and Martina McBride for dinner, and they took me back to their studio after. We had a drink and we were messing around. I just got the feeling I should come here and record something. It was just before Nashville exploded, if you know what I mean. Whenever that was…
When Jack White moved there…
Yeah, three and a half years ago or something. I said to John McBride, “I want to come back to record,” and he thought I just meant sometime. But I said, “Next week.” I got a band together, which is the same band that played on all three albums. It just became a natural thing to do. I would make up the songs on the spot and then record them with these amazing players. But this last album, rather than repeat myself in the same room in Nashville, I did a kind of Magical Mystery Tour and had the band meet me on a plane and then we all flew to the South Pacific and made this album on a boat. It was crazy, these complete Nashville guys were fish out of water sailing past huge mountains and the islands. It couldn’t get more bizarre really.
Was that huge scenery change deliberate to provoke the creative process?
Yeah, I’ve always been like that. Even with the Eurythmics, we’d make an album in a church we converted. Then, when we made ‘Be Yourself Tonight,’ we hired a little youth club on the outskirts of the Russian quarter in Paris. It was so weirdly different. Then we recorded in a house in France and a hotel room in New York with a view of Central Park. All these elements, like Bowie recorded in Berlin in whatever, it completely changes your perspective. Also, the people you meet and the ambiance all around you adds something. I’m not one of those people who like to be in the same gray room with a computer trying to program a hit. I’m more of an adventurer.