Daniel Powter - The IndieLondon interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
DANIEL Powter talks exclusively to IndieLondon about making his comeback after rehab with new album, Turn On The Lights and how he got back from his drink and drugs hell.
He also talks about the inspiration behind some of his new songs, why he was so unprepared for the success of breakthrough smash Bad Day and reflects on other aspects of his career, including his favourite live memories and how the music industry has changed over the years.
Q. Hi Daniel, it’s good to have you back. Does it feel good to be back?
Daniel Powter: I’m not too sure yet… What I mean is that I certainly loved being back in the studio and making this album but it’s no secret that I wasn’t a big fan of all the attention and hype before. I was in dire need of growing up…. Let’s hope so!
Q. The new album, Turn On The Lights, sounds great. How long has it taken to put together?
Daniel Powter: It took me a long time to write for the record. I didn’t want to jam up the songs with too much instrumentation. Just really simple melodies and themes. The simple songs have always been the most difficult for me to write.
Q. Can you talk a little about lead single, Cupid? Was it inspired by anyone in particular?
Daniel Powter: No, not really. I have always loved examining and reexamining relationships. What makes us stay together through thick and thin or what makes us leave and move on. Cupid is about loving each other and each others imperfections. We are all perfectly imperfect.
Q. And The Day We Never Met is an interesting take on a relationship in reverse. What inspired you to write that one?
Daniel Powter: Maybe Memento?? That movie was a trip…
Q. Come Back Home was inspired by friendship, I gather. Is that aimed at any close friends in particular?
Daniel Powter: I had the privilege of spending the day with the crew of the USS Ashcroft in San Diego. The Ashcroft is a nuclear powered submarine. I was so blown away by the kids that operated this incredible vessel… And I mean they were kids!!! 18, 19 year old kids entirely dedicated to their jobs. Ever since then I have had always tried to be involved with our military and especially their families to support their efforts. I was recently asked to play at the yellow ribbon event. It’s truly an honour for me to do what I can for the families of the military. This song is dedicated to all of them and their safe return home.
Q. Given the success of your best known single, Bad Day, do you look back on that time now and see someone who maybe wasn’t ready for the gargantuan success it brought?
Daniel Powter: Absolutely!!! I think anyone who says they’re ready for that kind of success is fount themselves. It changed every fiber of my soul. I’ve spent the last 5 years changing it back.
Q. At what point during the spiral of drink and drug abuse that followed did you realise you needed help?
Daniel Powter: The last 8-10 months of the spiral I became really unpredictable, very angry, selfish and depressed… I stopped caring about myself and therefore everyone else in my life. I couldn’t really sink any lower. That was my bottom and I needed to get help.
Q. Now that you’ve successfully come out the other side, what advice would you give to younger artists who may fall into the same trap?
Daniel Powter: That’s a tough question. Someone that feels they may be having trouble with drugs and alcohol really needs to take the first step in getting help. I can try to give my advice or share my experience with them, but if they can’t recognize their problem then my efforts are futile.
Q. Has the music industry changed much since you’ve been away?
Daniel Powter: I think the music business is constantly changing. I feel like its settling in to where it wants to be. The glory days of the 80’s and 90’s are forever gone. The days where labels believed in developing artists and bands are also over. However artists and bands are able to self promote through the Internet and Facebook etc. It’s a double edged sword. The labels were like the gatekeepers and acted like a filter only letting certain music to ever reach the public.
Now, the Internet gives bands that would normally not get signed an opportunity to get their music heard as well. The problem is that now there are 50 billion unsigned acts promoting themselves on the Internet which dilutes everything and makes it difficult to find an audience all over again.
Q. Going back a bit further in your career, when did you first know you wanted to become a singer-songwriter?
Daniel Powter: I think I knew I wanted to be a songwriter after I tried talking to a girl for the first time and ended up fumbling all over my words.
Q. What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received during your rise to fame?
Daniel Powter: Remember if you step on people as you rise to the top they won’t be there for you when you fall. And you will eventually fall.
Q. Bad Day is such a popular song in the public sub-conscious. And it’s of course spawned cover versions. Do you have a favourite you’ve heard?
Daniel Powter: I heard a band cover it in Germany once. It was like a speed metal version of Bad Day. It really cracked me up.
Q. Is there a track you’d particularly like to cover?
Daniel Powter: Video Killed The Radio Star by The Buggles!
Q. Who would you most like to perform live on stage with if given the opportunity – and they can be alive or dead…
Daniel Powter: Oh that’s easy… The Beatles. I wouldn’t want to sing however. Just cover all of Billy Preston’s parts
Q. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve ever seen written about yourself? Do you Google yourself?
Daniel Powter: I don’t google myself anymore. I was too sensitive to read the nasty sh*t some people would say. I was given some good advice about press. “you’re not as good as they say you are, and you’re not as bad.”
Q. What do you like about coming to the UK?
Daniel Powter: The friends I have in the UK always make me laugh. Truly witty and a lot of fun to be with. I’m looking forward to seeing them next week. Going for a run in Hyde Park on Saturday. My favourite place to run.
Q. What are some of your favourite live memories?
Daniel Powter: Ummmm if you mean as a performer then it would have to be Live 8. I was so scared I had my piano facing the trees instead of the crowd. However, when people started singing it was the most exciting experience of my life.
Q. What’s the nicest thing a fan has ever said to you or done for you?
Daniel Powter: Wow… That’s a tough one. I guess I would have to say its always been really humbling for me to hear their stories about the music getting them through tough times. It makes me feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. Just writing music.
Q. And finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod player at the moment?
Daniel Powter: Well, that’s always changing. I usually cycle through anything from Bowie, Mozart, Nick Drake, Springsteen, Cash, and The Beatles
Daniel Powter’s Turn On The Lights is released on Monday, July 16, 2012. Read our review
- Buy it (Amazon)
- Daniel Powter - The IndieLondon interview
- Turn On The Lights reviewed
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