The idea that talent is directly proportional to your trophy cabinet is one I oppose.
Every time you write a song, you’re looking for some sort of perfection, and you never quite reach it. You’re always looking for that extra missing piece.
Rock n’ roll seems like it’s faded away sometimes, but it will never die.
Guitar music or rock n’ roll or whatever you want to call it sort of goes away with trends, but it’ll never go away completely. It can’t die because it’s so fundamentally attractive.
I can’t draw. I’m good on the yo-yo, but I don’t draw.
I think New York is a good place to write in general because it’s a grid. It’s organized. You know where you are on the map. That centers you, and your imagination is perhaps freer to roam.
It’s a very unnatural environment to be in, up on a stage. So you put up defenses to hide. Like looking at the ground with your hair in your eyes, or being tightly wound and quite aggressive and uncooperative, as I used to do.
There’s something to be said for writing in the morning. At other points in the day, you’re a bit more defensive.
I still very much appreciate the storytelling of the best rappers.
I am a romantic fool, no doubt about that.
The first time I went to New York, it was really exciting, and I thought, given half the chance, it would be nice to live there – the same with London.
I know my lyrics might be weird to some, but they’re not like that to me because I know where they come from – I know the secret.
I’m in a difficult position in the sense that, preposterous as this might sound, I don’t like being the centre of attention. I get up on stage every night and play songs, but I almost feel the songs are the centre of attention. I don’t like opening my birthday presents in front of people, either.
Sometimes I don’t want to be in the confines of what a band seems to provide.
Sometimes, writing songs is like waiting in for deliveries. They give you a window, and your washing machine is going to show up, whether the window is the album or something you’re thinking, like, ‘This thing is going to come to me.’
You don’t meet that many people that you can talk about Roots Manuva with, but that was my favorite in school, this record of his called ‘Run Come Save Me.’ When I first started writing lyrics, it came from that.
I can be a woodsman if need be. I grew up very close to some forest, and I spent a lot of my formative years up and down trees, fooling around in the woods. I’m no stranger to that sort of landscape.
I’m not even sure where home is. Probably Terminal 5. There is a strange sense of calm about arriving back at Heathrow.
‘Hatful of Hollow’ and ‘The Smiths’ were lent to me, and they made me want to create music that might make another person feel like they made me feel – to have an effect on someone.
Songwriters always reminded me of that kid at school who would go around with his guitar, like, ‘Yeah, songwritin’ man,’ looking wistful. That wasn’t me – those kinds of people put me off. In the early days, I’d write a bunch of lyrics and almost look at them as a sort of joke, to make the rest of the boys laugh.
I’m not really one for collaborations, to be quite honest.
If anyone asks me about songwriting, I guess I’d say that you just gotta do it.
There’s something about a Gucci loafer kicking on a fuzz pedal.
I’m like the Ben Affleck of crowd surfing.
I just don’t think I’m equipped to soundtrack the times. There might be someone out there who can do that, but I haven’t cracked it.
Someone asked me what the key to being a good frontman was, and I think having a sense of humor about it is pretty near the top of that list. It’s a very strange place to be in, and I don’t take that role too seriously.
I usually sit around with the guitar in reach and grab it when I get an idea. Sometimes it lasts five minutes, and sometimes it lasts all day.
I get nervous about gigs sometimes, but not with records – I always get excited.
Television? It’s a gateway to writer’s block, isn’t it?
I think I’m alright as a lyricist, you know? But then what will happen every couple of months or so is that I’ll hear a song I’ve never heard before and feel I’ve gone right back to square one.
I like The Four Freshmen, anything with good harmonies, some Beach Boys. I like the girl groups as well, like The Dixie Cups and all that.