Interview with Richard Thompson
World-renowned songwriter, singer, and guitarist Richard Thompson will play a short run of summer shows across UK and Ireland. These special preview dates come ahead of an extensive UK tour in October and November 2018 as he promotes forthcoming record ’13 Rivers’.
On 15th August 2018, Richard Thompson plays the Belfast Empire Music Hall. We caught up with him for a quick chat.
FT: A lot of people are really looking forward to your Irish shows. You’re one of the few major artists who regularly play this island. Do you fell you have an affinity with the country?
RT: I’ve always loved coming over. The music is wonderful. The audiences always great, and I can probably claim a thimbleful of Irish blood.
The new album, ’13 Rivers’ features thirteen songs all emanating from the same spring, yourself. Is there a connecting theme to each song or do they all flow into different seas?
RT: There are all kinds of themes but when songs are written in a short space of time, as these were, there seems to be a commonality to them; a kind of overlap of musical and lyrical ideas.
FT: Given the state of upheaval we live in at the moment with Trump in the White House and Brexit drawing ever near, is there a Richard Thompson worldview on the new album?
RT: I would say a couple of songs are about change but that’s not always a bad thing. It may be uncomfortable at the time but good can come of it if you can stick it out.
FT: You have variously been lauded as “best acoustic guitar player”, “Americana artist of the year”, “top 10 electric guitarists”… How do you view yourself? Do you mind people trying to categorise your music?
RT: It’s the job of critics, and these days anybody with a Facebook page, to file, compare, and categorise. I do my best to ignore all such endeavours. It’s distracting and is usually doing somebody a disservice. I have to have some sense of my own self-worth, and all other opinions, good or bad, are not to be trusted.
FT: You have collaborated with some amazing and quite varied artists in the past; Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Tweedy, Norma Waterson, Loudon Wainwright, and countless others. Is there anyone left that you would love to write or play with?
RT: Just some dead people.
FT: You have a series of superb “acoustic classic” albums, which have been universally lauded. Will there be further albums in this vein?
RT: Well, I could go on a long time… It depends what you mean by “classic” I suppose. ‘Acoustic Classics Volume 40’? That might be watering it down a bit. At the very least, I could see a Volume 3.
FT: ’13 Rivers’ is your 28th solo album in a rich and varied catalogue. What keeps the music and the ideas so fresh?
RT: A wise man once said; “steal from everyone except yourself”. I find music endlessly interesting and I’m probably driven by some demons from my past. I hope it’s fresh.
FT: Probably an impossible question but a fun one for fans. Do you have an album of your own that is a particular favourite?
RT: I like ‘Mock Tudor’ overall. I like a lot of the songs and I like the production. Mostly I don’t think in album terms, more in individual songs.
FT: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and we look forward to seeing you on the road.
For a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit Richard Thompson’s official website.
’13 Rivers’ by Richard Thompson is due for release on Proper Records on 14th September 2018.