British singer/songwriter David Ford has been charming audiences with his startling songs and raspy voice. His new album “Charge” makes this his fourth solo album and though his records may not be available to buy everywhere, he’s happy making good music for anyone who will listen. Ford makes it clear that the music comes first and after ten years of making and performing music, he looks forward, rather than dwelling on the past.
You’ve been making music for ten years now. When you first started out, did you think it would last this long?
DF: Probably. As a kid, you imagine that whatever your job is you’ll do it forever. Whether music was my job or something I did on the side, I knew I would do it forever.
You started out in the band Easyworld, but then went solo shortly after you guys disbanded in 2004. Do you think there is a difference between the work you did with them and your solo material?
DF: Yeah, very much so. Being in a band is a strange take on democracy. There can’t be any bands out there that feel equal with one another. But it was more of an education; I was learning how to do it. I got all the mistakes out of the way. It was a great time and I learned a lot by making mistakes. Being solo puts me in a stronger position to feel older and wiser. This material is more focused and accomplished. You have to write average songs before you can write a great one. I think I’m constantly improving as a writer, but I’m glad that the early part of my career is buried.
Is it safe to say that there will be no Easyworld reunion?
DF: No, it wasn’t a huge successful band. No one’s calling out for it. It would be pointless of all projects I could do. I’m not interested in singing those songs again. It’s like having an exhibit with art work you did in high school. It’s the work of an artist who is just starting out.
From your experience, if there anything in your career that you would change or do differently?
DF: In hindsight I should’ve said yes more. I used to be serious about my artistic integrity and I should’ve done more things that would’ve been beneficial to my career. I’m happy that I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. I have a number of recordings and I don’t hate any of them. That fact will count more when I stop making music.
When listening to the new album, I hear bits of great artists like Bob Dylan. Who were some of your influences for this record?
DF: It’s hard to say what influences me. I try not to be influenced by other people’s music. My influences come from my own experiences and what’s happening to me. But there is some Bruce Springsteen in the last track “Every Time.” I wanted it to sound like a lost track from his album “Born to Run.” It’s one of my favorite records; it has that drive and vibe and I wanted to get close to that.
The track I really liked from the new album is “The Ballad of Miss Lilly.” Can you tell me a bit about that song? Where did the idea for the song come from?
DF: That’s a tricky one. I’m quite bad at remembering the songwriting process. It just happens and I live with the song later. At the time, I was listening to Southern Cajun music from New Orleans and I wanted to get that feel, but it was difficult. As a white, middle class, British singer it’s difficult to try to replicate the feelings in those songs. The music was from a tune I had and the story is pretty much shallow. There’s no message at all. It’s more for my sins and it’s a chance for me to get my [Carlos] Santana on during the solo. Otherwise, I don’t know where it belongs culturally.
You have a song on the new album titled “Philadelphia Boy” and you previously stated that Philadelphia is your favorite place in the States to play. What is it about that city that appeals to you?
DF: The first time I played there I was opening for another artist and the audience response was incredible. That reaction made me think “Maybe it’s America and they love me.” I found out that wasn’t true when I played the next night in Detroit. People go crazy for shows in Philadelphia and it makes me have really high expectations whenever I perform there; they always come true. I always look forward to going there when touring.
I read that you got James Brown to produce the album for a few pizzas. What’s the story behind that?
DF: James is an old friend of mine and we actually worked together on the previous album. We have the same musical reference points, so we can be honest with each other. For this one, I made the record in my basement and I would then send it to James. Sometimes he would make suggestions or do mixes that brought it all together and made it sound more like an album. It was the first time of making a record on different sides of the Atlantic. The pizza thing is more about how I can’t really afford him now that he’s made records with the Foo Fighters, but I like to think he’s happy to do it at a rate that’s not worth his time because he enjoys what I do. He also has ownership of the record both literally and figuratively and he does it for enjoyment.
You have four albums under your belt. From when you released your first solo album in 2005 to now, what has changed either about you or your music?
DF: I’ve gotten older and now I’m a bit more comfortable with myself and what I do. I feel that I approach the songwriting process more confidently and I understand my voice as a writer. I don’t care if my records are successful or not. I’ve learned to measure success in different ways. If no one buys it, it’s not a slight on my work because it’s still good. I’m more comfortable with the fact that I want to do something good; something that has a purpose and spirit. I believe you can’t measure art by sales figures and I do consider what I do an art form; I’m not trying to be cocky about it. I just feel that money doesn’t dictate how to get the job done.
David Ford recently kicked off his North American tour in Chicago at Schubas Tavern and will be playing across the country until the end of June. His new album “Charge” is available now via iTunes. It will also be released physically in the States on June 4. To pre-order your copy and to see where Ford will be playing next, visit his official website.