Thursday 22 March 2018

Q&A: Tindersticks' Stuart Staples

On Breakups, reconciliations and bandmate David Kitt

Ed Power

Ed Power

The band split in 2004, essentially because you were all sick of the sight of one another. So what's the spirit like aboard Team Tindersticks now?

Up to a point, you're older and wiser and so you guard against the things that used to cause tension. But when you're getting into a heavy touring period, it's hard to keep the strange demons that bring you down at bay. I think that's the nature of what we do. Playing the music we do, and doing it night after night... it can leave you feeling a bit empty really.

Well, at least your old mate David Kitt is in the line-up now. Is he a permanent member or a journeyman passing through?

When we got back together three years ago, we were aware that the original line-up had grown too insular, too inward looking. We didn't want to go back to that. We felt it was important to have different people, different dynamics around. David is an important part of that.

He must be thrilled at the opportunity. His last two albums flopped and, apparently, he was pretty disillusioned.

It's good for him, it takes the pressure off. It gives him a break from himself in a way and that has to be a good thing. I know what it's like, when it's purely to do with yourself. Sometimes it's great to get beyond that. For us, our work on film soundtracks is part of that process... It takes the pressure off for a while.

On that very subject, how did you convince Isabella Rossellini to guest on one of your movie scores?

We sent her a demo of the song and she liked it. To get it recorded was a difficult thing, though. She would be the first person to admit she's not a singer. That's fine, I didn't want her to be a singer. To find a happy balance took a while...

You also curated a children's album featuring Will Oldham -- aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy -- singing Puff the Magic Dragon. Eek.

Dave Boulter [Tindersticks guitarist] had his first child and it made him a bit nostalgic for his past. I was making some solo albums at the time. We had this little idea and over the years it grew. Will was one of the first people we approached. When he said yes, it gave us great confidence and momentum to approach other people and ask them to be involved.

Your first two records are regarded as classics. Ever feel you're in competition with yourself?

I think there's a seam of our best work that runs through everything we've done, including our last album. Our concerts over the past few years have proved that really. I know our old songs are there and I'm very proud of them. At the same time, I'm proud of more or less everything we've done.

Tindersticks have a huge following on the continent. Are audiences there more open minded about slow, occasionally sombre, music?

I wouldn't draw that line. Whether it's Dublin or Manchester, Paris or Brussels, I think people want to come and enjoy themselves. If you are going to spend your hard-earned money, obviously you want to be there. That said, people in Brussels are a lot more sort of... silent you know. Rather than quiet. But that's just one of those differences.

The album Falling Down A Mountain is out now. Tindersticks play St Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny, on Sunday, August 15, as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival

Irish Independent

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment