IT IS Glastonbury’s mysterious area where celebs party away from the spotlight.
The Secret Rabbit Hole is the compulsory area of the festival where Noel Gallagher, Niall Horan and even Prince Harry in the past have been spotted enjoying themselves.
And in this Alice in Wonderland-themed space, Paolo Nutini enjoys a post-performance beer and is ready to talk about his return and his best fourth album of his career, Last Night In The Bittersweet.
It’s been a few hours since he played an unannounced gig at the easier to find Rabbit Hole Bar. There, fans climbed tent poles to catch a glimpse of the enigmatic Scottish singer, who has been absent since his third album Caustic Love topped the charts and became one of the best-selling albums of 2014.
He says: “Me and my band toured for a couple of years after the last album came out. After that I will go and buy a one way ticket to see places I need to see and sometimes this trip is a weekend and sometimes three months or more. I’m lucky enough to be able to take that time and just see what happens. I don’t really think about it much.”
Nutini finds a lot of his inspiration for songs while traveling. This time he was visiting New York and Mexico after ending a relationship that inspired new single Acid Eyes.
He says: “I pull it in from my perspective – it’s a personal song, but I also wrap other stories into it. There was a great time of traveling and dealing with life and all the while I was writing.
“I always write ideas. Even if it’s just the beginning of a song, I absorb the ideas. I take them away and am happy with this way of working. I didn’t feel like wasting time, although arguably I was,” he laughs.
Most Read in Entertainment
Nutini says it’s only when he has a certain feel for a set of songs that he can think about putting them together as an album.
He says: “It’s one thing to write a few songs, but it’s not an album. An album has to hold together to tell a little story or make a point and at one point I thought we’re almost there, now it’s time, how do we make an album out of this?”
The 35-year-old is a reserved pop star who tends to follow the music in business rather than the trappings that success entails. He’s not interested in branding himself or doing endless publicity.
But that doesn’t mean Nutini is difficult – far from it. He’s the same honest and soulful personality that shines through in his songs.
He says: “I have moments of uncertainty and anxiety about what people might think. It’s hard because I’m quite a private person, so all of a sudden there’s this juxtaposition of going back to the most public theatre.
“There’s no doubt about that, common sense would say you can build better momentum than I can. And who knows what difference that would make? But you can only do it the way you do it. And that is my way.”
Nutini is very proud of his new album and rightly so. Last Night In The Bittersweet shows what a brilliant songwriter Nutini is. With 16 tracks it could be called a double album and it shows Nutini at his best.
Regardless of genre, he can go wherever his creativity takes him. Even Quentin Tarantino is credited on the album opener Afterneath for Nutini’s sample from his cult 1993 film True Romance.
Tracks like Radio, the hypnotic Neu!-sounding Lose It, Children Of The Stars, Shine A Light, Heart Filled Up and Nutini’s personal favourite, the Robert Wyatt-sounding Take Me Take Mine, are diverse in style and accentuated by his extraordinary voice highlighted.
“I love Robert Wyatt and I bought this massive Soft Machine vinyl box set and sat down and listened to it all,” he says. “It made me look into more Robert Wyatt stuff. He has a voice that’s just good. . . I knew about Shipbuilding, but until recently I didn’t know it was an Elvis Costello cover.”
New single ‘Acid Eyes’ is already a fan favorite following Nutini’s recent live shows and his performance of the song at the BBC’s Glastonbury studios.
Honestly, feeling anxious is a very human thing. I envy people who think they have everything under control and under control.
And it was a song he wrote with Haim in mind. He explains: “I wrote that in my living room. I wanted to try and write a song that maybe Danielle from the Haim girls would sing with me. There are the two vocals, the high and the low, which I thought was a duet. Everyone said why I don’t ask them, but I thought “What if they say no?”. So I haven’t.
“I first met her when we were making the Caustic Love album. We worked with producer Dave Sardy, who brought Blake Mills in to play guitar. At the time his girlfriend was Danielle Haim and she swung over.
“The last time we played Glastonbury, Haim were backstage when we played The Other Stage and we had a few drinks with them at the end. They’ve been really nice to me and my friends and they’re awesome. And maybe when they hear about it. . . ”
It seems incongruous that Nutini, with his talent and charisma, would be shy about asking Haim to sing on such an outstanding song. He replies, “Honestly, it’s a very human thing to feel anxious. I envy people who think they have everything under control and under control.
“That’s why I love Liam,” he says of the former Oasis star, who he recently supported at Knebworth. “He’s one of those people who has that confidence in the way he speaks and acts. He is great.”
“I’ve made great friends through music”
Another major influence on Nutini is American singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, known as Rodriguez, whose career revival was chronicled in the Oscar-winning documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Nutini says meeting him for the first time at the 2007 Byron Bay Blues Festival in Australia was something he will never forget.
“Rodriguez was a guy I could only dream of being like. For me he was this shamanistic Maya, my hero and one day we met. I thank the crazy universe that happened.
“After that we became friends, we made music together and spent nights together smoking joints. And this is a guy who is 40 years older than me. I just feel like this is my brain. In music, age doesn’t really equate. It brings people together in a way that 10 or 20 years apart doesn’t matter. I’ve made some great friends through music.”
Nutini cites Devo, Fats Domino, and Wire as the music he’s heard. He says: “My Girl Josephine and Devos Gates Of Steel are my morning songs.
“Then Krisma’s c-rock from the Chinese Restaurant album is a masterpiece and that influences Lose It on my album. Think of the mundane weather in Glasgow, the gray skies, then your headphones are on the right level playing C-rock, in the cosmos. It’s fucking powerful music.” Lose It is one of Nutini’s new favorite songs to play live.
When he debuted it on his latest series of 100 club shows – which featured Lewis Capaldi, Peter Capaldi, Sam Fender, footballer Kieran Tierney and Tom Odell all in the audience – fans compared him to AC/’s Iggy Pop and Brian Johnson DC, which might come as a surprise to people unfamiliar with Nutini’s music.
When Nutini first appeared in 2006, he was pigeonholed as “another James Blunt or James Morrison,” which couldn’t be further from who he is.
“I wish I had Iggy Pop’s body,” he laughs. “But live is always where I am myself. There used to be times when I was styled or altered – photos of me airbrushed to the point that I just couldn’t remember what I looked like.
“But through my live performances, it’s always been a way of saying, ‘Well, that’s what I do.'”
When Nutini first appeared in 2006, he was pigeonholed as “another James Blunt or James Morrison,” which couldn’t be further from who he is. He produced Last Night In The Bittersweet with Dani Castelar and Gavin Fitzjohn, who also plays in his band.
He says: “The three of us really knew what we wanted to achieve and each brought our own thing to it. We had each other’s backs. If we all liked something, that was important.”
Children Of The Stars is another great track on the album and was inspired by Nutini’s love of sci-fi novels. He says: “I read ‘Women Of Wonder’ before I went to bed, that’s the first line of the song.
“It happens every once in a while and I love it when it happens, but I got up one morning and I heard a song in my dream. It gives me a real kick. I record everything on my cell phone. When the battery dies, my brain breaks. If I can think of a song in a dream, it’s evil.
“I hope the album gives me a sense of what I’ve done and where I am, that’s all I can ask for. I can’t wait for people to hear Take Me Take Mine, Heart Filled Up and Julianne and then join the gigs.
“I wanted to get the songs out as early as possible because I wanted the fans to become familiar with them when I play live, especially TRNSMT (the Glasgow festival he’s running next weekend).
“I don’t really appreciate them because they need a lot of ceremony, I just need them to be heard.”
- Last Night In The Bittersweet is out today.
https://www.the-sun.com/entertainment/5678453/paolo-nutini-on-writing-ideas-as-he-reveals-his-return-album-last-night-in-the-bittersweet/ Paolo Nutini on “writing ideas” as he unveils his return album, Last Night In The Bittersweet