Less than twelve months ago I interviewed David Gray on the release of his new CD White Ladder. It is a superb CD but no one, including David, could have foreseen the huge success it was to achieve in this country. As I speak, the CD has sold in excess of 50,000 making it a platinum seller in Ireland and is still selling well. Songs like Please Forgive Me, This Year's Love and the recently released and re-recorded single Babylon captured the imagination of the Irish music buying public. When you take into account that David didn't use any kind of promotion other than word of mouth, then the achievement is all the more remarkable. It was with great pleasure then, that I bumped into David recently and got an update from him.
It's been an incredible year and it keeps on going and I am waiting to see how it all ends up. We are still selling plenty of records. It was more than we had even hoped for. Because of the nature of things we had no adverts or anything for the CD. We would be huge if we had had some marketing also. Its got legs as they say. A virtual Ethiopian marathon runner!
Are you still a little bemused as to why the same success has yet to happen back home in England?
No. I can see why it hasn't happened in England. It's a painfully slow process here [in England] when you don't have the media on your side and because we have been discovered in Ireland it doesn't really endear us to fashion conscious British music press. We just have to stick to what we are good at, playing music, keep the gigs doing well and keep making good records and I know we will get there eventually. If the truth be told we have neglected the U.K. for the past four years so there is a lot of catching up to be done and I feel we are just beginning to make some headway. We have got playlisting on Radio 2 and Greater London Radio so its starting to turn our way a little.
Has your success in Ireland been noted in England?
Oh yeah! They have heard all about it. We wear t-shirts saying 'We are big in Ireland'. [laughs] I love Ireland dearly. We have had nothing but a brilliant time. I wanted to get out around the whole country as it was getting a bit repetitive just popping over for a couple of shows. I wanted to get more of a tour going around the country. I thought there must be people out there and I think that has probably endeared me to certain quarters because I bothered to do it.
Any sign of a follow up CD?
I am planning to make a very acoustic album this summer. I have got so many songs lying around and I don't want them to be lost and if I don't catch them soon they will be swamped by a wave of new material. We are just taking each record as it comes. We will work on the follow up to White Ladder at the beginning of next year.
It must have been very pleasing to go back into studio and redo Babylon and use real strings as opposed to the computer-generated strings that were on the original. The joys of having a few pounds to spend!
Well, I wouldn't go that far! [laughs] At least don't tell the string players anyway [more laughter] It's a lot more difficult working with real people than it is with a computer. They go out of tune and stuff like that. No, no really it was nice. We just made a decision. We have to be very positive about how we spend the money as its not (yet) coming out of our ears. We put a lot of effort into the single to give it the best possible chance. It felt like a devilish luxury, like having a cream cake when you are on a diet. It was really weird. I have to jolt myself because when we went into the studio proper to do it all and the money was mounting up, I started feeling very guilty, like, do we deserve this. I didn't feel comfortable about it watching the money tick away and then I gave myself a good smack and thought 'look, forget about it'.
Did the film This Years Love go any way towards getting any further recognition for you in England?
Some way. It's quite subtle really. Its not like the film was about the music although Kathy Burke did sing Shine at the end of the film. Its brought me some attention and perhaps a little credibility but I don't think it moved any mountains.
What about America?
We are trying to tie up licensing deals so as to have the CD out over there before the end of the year. I think that's going to be a good market for us especially now with the situation regarding Irish artists. I am allowed to claim that I am Irish right? [laughter] Anyway I am sure I have a granny somewhere! We want to get out there before the end of the year. I feel that we should make an appearance. At the moment it is looking like September or October.
How much has David Gray changed as a person and as a musician over the years since the release of the first album?
An awful lot and probably in similar ways. Obviously age has a mellowing process slightly more gradual on some people more than others. I have a more different approach. I used to be like a bull in a china shop. I had all the best intentions but sometimes you have to take a step back and relax. You cannot force the issue the whole time. With White Ladder I enjoyed the experience more. I relaxed and let it happen and it came out so much better.
Will you be touring around the country again?
I hope to do a decent sized tour before Christmas and go back to places like Waterford, Cork, Galway and so on. The last time was great. It had a great feel about it so we would love to do it again. The gigs were really different but it was such a pleasure.
David Gray would be the first to admit that he owes an awful lot to Ireland for the success he is enjoying right now. When David's name is finally known worldwide the music lovers of this country can feel good knowing that they were there almost from the beginning. There is little doubt that David will achieve bigger success, sooner rather than later.
David Gray's Official Site
David Gray at the Open Directory Project
Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show on WLRfm
Friday nights from 10pm to 1am GMT
Last updated 30 April 2002
Interview © 1999-2017 Roddy Cleere
Site design © 2001-2017 LMB / Almost Fabulous
Interviews from Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show