Richard Ashcroft is back:
Six years on from his last major interview and with barely a handful of solo acoustic shows under his belt since he stopped touring 2010’s critically maligned (but quite intriguing) rap-rock fourth album ‘United Nations Of Sound’, Richard is bursting out of the woods like a wolf attack. He arrives at this west London photo studio as if fresh from lobbing Molotovs – hair shaven, eyes shaded, scarf across his craggy features and jabbering like an enlightened monk finally breaking his vow of silence.
He is, after all, released from years of self-imposed solitary confinement in Josef Fritzl’s idea of a recording session. His brilliant new album ‘These People’, a slice of classic Verve song craft with modernist electronic touches, was pieced together in his home basement studio in bursts over the past six years, in between “being a dad and living a standard-ish kind of life with dogs and school runs”. Having discarded the distraction of his mobile, he tinkered at length with “new old keyboards”, learning new crafts and trying reinvent the looping melodicism of ‘Urban Hymns’. “With all the studios closing down, record sales hit massively, the whole industry changing, I had to re-evaluate how I could still create these super records,” he explains. “So [album track] ‘Out Of My Body’ is in the mould of ‘A Song For The Lovers’, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, going right back. It’s a proper old-school record made with modern technology and old stuff to create something you’ve never heard before.”I'm expecting live dates in the United States. Is that wrong of me? It would be wrong not to demand an American tour.