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David Sinclair

Tell us about your latest album (title / content / theme, etc./how it is to be promoted, etc.)

We’re currently promoting Take Me There, the third album by the David Sinclair Trio on the Critical Discs label, distributed by Proper. It’s our coming of age album – better late than never! – a bunch of songs about the passing of time, what that does to you, where it takes you. It was recorded at Studio 91 in Newbury by Jordan Fish with help from guitar legend Robin Trower, harmonica maestro Paul Jones (of Radio 2), Richard J. Parfitt who was the frontman of 60ft Dolls and Andy White, the folk troubadour from Belfast. There is a tremendous sense of discovery and adventure about the album, which working with those people helped to foster.

NB you can join these next two questions together

How would you describe the musical style? (we see it promoted on blues and related sites – but it’s not really blues as far as we can hear, distinct lack of guitar wankin as wellJ)

 

How would you describe your musical influences – we felt Ray Davies / Kinks might be a significant influence and others of that ilk – maybe more English influence than American?)

I’m a singer/songwriter fronting a great rock trio. I’m not sure why we get lumped in with the blues crowd – probably because we’re a guitar trio appealing to the same audience as the blues bands. My influences are the great London rock songwriters: Ray Davies for sure, Ian Hunter, Paul Weller, Jagger/Richards. I write what I know about, which is generally not hard times in the cotton fields or the back streets of Chicago in the 1950s. And I feel more comfortable singing in English rather than an American field holler.

 

How did you get where you are (musically) that is what led up to the present band

That’s a big and rather oddly-worded question. I’ve always played in bands, but never fronted one of my own. So when I finally got the chance to record some of my songs in 2005 it seemed overdue. And the music just came pouring out. I’d recorded my first album with the Trio before I even noticed it. Next thing, we were gigging all over the place and we still are. How did I get here? I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

So where in general do you feel that your musical career at this moment and what are your immediate future plans – (tours-gigs-shoot the drummer, etc.)

At an all-time high – and getting higher. The immediate plan is to write and record the fourth album. Always gigging. Drummers are a precious commodity round here. We might shoot some pool…

We are aware that you are a writer/ journalist can you tell us about that and may be how that impacts with your writing songs

Thanks to my “other” job as a music journalist, I’ve seen and/or met just about every great act you can think of – from Jimi Hendrix to Lady Gaga. It all sinks in. And you hope some of it sticks. Every gig I go to, I learn something new or get an idea of some sort – it would be hard to write about so much music and so many acts with any great enthusiasm if I wasn’t constantly inspired by music of all genres and descriptions. The job feeds into my love of music which is what inspires my songwriting and playing. I’ve led a charmed life.

What about the personnel on the album – and other players on the sessions?

I sing and play guitar. Take Me There features George Andrew – the granite man – on bass and vocals, and my son, Jack Sinclair – the kid with the plan – on drums. The DS3 would be nowhere without George. He’s the rock around which the band’s sound is built. And Jack makes it roll. He’s got Grade 8 percussion, teaches Music Theory. Amazing drummer.  Working with Robin Trower was an education. He played on “A Whiter Shade of Pale” when he was in Procol Harum, and then became a star with his own band in the 1970s. The man is a legend. He knows exactly what to do to make a good song great. Getting Paul Jones to play on the album was a game changer. You’ve heard him hosting his blues show on Radio 2, but you may not be aware what a tremendous musician he is. Richard J. Parfitt used to be the wild man of 1990s rock’n’roll when he was in 60ft Dolls – but he played some achingly lovely guitar on my song “Perfect in Every Way”. I must get him to show me how to do it sometime.

(Assuming you write the songs either alone or in concert)Who writes the material? How do you go about writing  (what instrument – lyrics or melody first)

I write the songs on the guitar. I usually start with a riff or melody or chord sequence then add the words as the idea for the song develops. In reviews, the songs are often complimented in particular for the lyrics, which always seems strange to me. All the blood, sweat and tears gets poured into the music. But I guess words are my primary stock-in-trade. Song titles are important. Sometimes you can build a whole song from a good title. I just wrote a song called “The Illness & the Cure” which is a good example of that.

Can you describe your influences – instrumentally, lyrically and melodically?

Instrumentally – the 2 greatest rock’n’roll guitarists: Jimi Hendrix & Keith Richards.

Lyrically: The greater London songsmiths: Ray Davies, Jagger/Richards, Ian Hunter, Paul Weller

 

Melodically: All of the above.

Regarding melodies in particular we’re interested in where you draw inspiration from (for instance old blues / or a standard chord sequence / or in folk a traditional mode

The blues is like a rudder, steering the course. Ultimately, you are looking for three chords and the truth – that’s the Holy Grail. But the search can take you in unexpected directions. Several of my songs have a pronounced Scottish lilt, which fascinates my American friends, and sometimes surprises me, myself. Although I’ve lived in London, on & off since I was eight years old, and consider myself a Londoner, through and through, I was born in Glasgow, where my father now lives. Sinclair is a Scottish name – we have our own tartan, and there is even a ruined Sinclair castle in Wick up in the far north. So I guess it is an ancestral memory that works itself out in some of my songs. “Sharks” has got it and “Motion Sickness”. And then we owned the whole Scottish thing with “Caledonian Skies” on the new album, which is basically a rock’n’roll version of “The Bonnie Banks O’ Loch Lomond” . “So I’ll say my goodbyes/Under Caledonian Skies/Where the wild goose still flies…Take me there!”

What about the subject matter/ themes of the songs?

They’re mostly about people – not me necessarily, even though they are usually couched in the first person. I usually have a particular person in my mind’s eye when I sing a song, although they can be semi-fictional or a composite. A lot of them are women! A subject I keep coming back to is time – how quickly it passes, how sad that it does, where it takes you, where it leaves you. “Years Disappear”, “The Week is Almost Over”, “Time is the Simplest Thing”, “Sharks”, probably others as well. London is another favourite: “London Dust”, “Life’s Too Serious”, “Pennies on a Plate”, Eight Rounds Later”, these songs all take place against a backdrop of London locations.

Are you dealing with any current issues like political or philosophical, any of those that concern you and influence your music?

It is what it is. I read politics at university. I’ve been around. You try to be honest and hope something meaningful comes through. It’s all current to me. But it’s not Plato’s Dialogues.

Looking at the album and (if you have one) your back catalogue which songs are you most proud of?

“Going to do Something” from the first album Hey was a major step forward, musically and lyrically. And “London Dust” from Threewheeling definitely hit a spot. “Clear up This Mess” was a slow, waltz-time moment. On the new album, “Living Like a Yo-Yo” was a significant achievement thanks to Robin Trower’s production, which pulled out stuff I didn’t know was there. “Caledonian Skies” has got everything: the Scottish thing, time passing, the story of my life as a music writer, massive chorus, the wild geese…

What do you think is the future of  CD’s in the light of the trend towards downloading, etc.?

Not bright.

Looking at the current music scene where do you think you fit?

There’s only three of us – we can fit anywhere.

Looking at the current scene – who do you think is really saying something?

Two recent shows stick in my mind: Marcus Bonfanti at the Jazz Café in January was amazing. He is an awesome guitarist and singer, somewhere between Jimmy Page and Seasick Steve. And St Vincent aka Annie Clark at Shepherds Bush Empire is a guitar hero of a completely different stripe – so cool and different. I’m loving Ronnie Wood’s show on Sky Arts TV, although it would be stretching it to call him part of the “current scene”. Just great reminiscences from a guy who has done it all and lived to tell the ultimate rock’n’roll tale.

 

Music career highlight

Recording my first song “Dusted & Rusted” on the last day of 2004.

 

Music career lowlight

I’ll let you know when it happens.

 

Anything else you like to tell us about? (questions you wish we’d asked, or that you think we should ask)

A pint of Foster’s, please.

Interests outside of music

Tennis. Family.

What do you do to chill out

I’m always chilled out.

Favourite Sunday morning record

“Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones

What do you sing in the shower / bath

My newest song. It’s a great place to fix a new melody in my head. And if I can’t get hold of it in the shower, then it’s time for a rethink – sort of The Old Grey Shower Test.

Favourite food when on the road

McDonald’s

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