THE INTERVIEW: PAOLO NUTINI

Hunger Magazine
September 23, 2014

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Paolo Nutini’s head has been well and truly turned. After spending the best part of the day, in his words “cavorting with a beautiful woman”, he tells me, almost forlornly, that he’s in love. “Of course you are, Paolo,” I can’t help but think. As we ascend the stairs of the Hunger studio, to an office where our interview is to take place, it’s hard to divert his attention away from Amber Anderson, with whom he’s been photographed. You can hardly blame him, I suppose. It must be one of the nicer perks of the job, given that there’s many a red-blooded, heterosexual male in his twenties who’d sell his granny for a few hours in her company.

In the interest of some kind of gender equality, I feel I should counter this generalisation by saying that at least two women I know confided in me that they couldn’t possibly interview Paolo due to having intense crushes on him. Objectification cuts both ways, but manifests itself differently between the sexes, it seems. I must admit I never understood the female interest in him, but upon meeting the guy, the appeal is quickly apparent. Diminutive, but with enough charisma to cause a power outage, it’s fair to say that in the flesh he’s a handsome bloody devil in his own rough-hewn way. But what do I know?

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And as for that voice? Not as mellifluous as some Scotsmen but indelibly broad, somewhat scratchy yet lyrical – not completely dissimilar to how he sounds when performing, which is a nice surprise. I’d often wondered if that remarkable voice was in any way contrived. I’m happy to concede it’s not; it’s a pure extension of his own tone and cadences, as all good singers’ voices should be. Despite his vocal ability, he has not always received as much credit as he deserves, especially for such a solid career. Critics are always fair, without being effusive, and sales are undoubtedly strong, especially in an age where people apparently don’t buy albums. Both his previous releases went five times platinum in the UK alone, and his latest album, Caustic Love, looks set to live up to their success. So what gives? He’s relatively well-known, in this country at least (without being tabloid fodder and annoyingly ubiquitous), and on top of that he seems to make the music he wants to make, at his own leisure, while selling shedloads of units to boot. You can’t really argue against that. On top of it all he’s engaging and intelligent company. Fair play to him.

HUNGER: HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WITH THE OTHER ASPECTS THAT COME WITH DOING WHAT YOU DO? LIKE THE SHOOT YOU’VE JUST DONE, FOR EXAMPLE.
Paolo Nutini: I’ve never been the best at posing for a camera, or even considered myself to be that kind of guy. There’s a lot that I’ll do now though that I never would have done before, like taking my top off. I can see the art in things now, whereas before I’d worry that all my mates would slag me off. I’ve immersed myself more in culture. In the past I had opportunities to be photographed by certain people, but I turned them down. Mario Testino wanted to photograph me once, but I didn’t know who he was. My girlfriend at the time was really into photography and when I told her I wasn’t going to do it, she couldn’t believe it! I just didn’t get it then. But now music and other art forms seem to be running a lot more in tandem. I think there was an element of fear before, not because I was scared of doing these things, but of what people would think. One of the best things that ever happened to me was shedding that mentality.

IT’S BEEN FIVE YEARS SINCE YOUR LAST ALBUM AND YOU MENTIONED THE BRIEF HIATUS. WHAT DID YOU GET UP TO?
For the most part, I just took some time at home and did menial things. I was interested in working with my hands, learning how to fix things that broke around the house instead of having to call someone to do it. I couldn’t drive, so I learned how to drive. I couldn’t really cook, so I learned how to cook. Basically, I was just around. It’s easy to take for granted the life you once had, your friends and family. Sometimes when you’re on a mission, or you have something you’re focused on, it can be easy to take all that for granted. You think it’s always going to be the same. Luckily, everything is still reminiscent of what it was. But there were things that had happened in my friends’ lives, which forced me to switch my focus.

ONCE ALL SOLID GROUND RE-EMERGED, DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULD GO AND EXPLORE AGAIN?
Absolutely. Not only that, but I’d been touring in so many great places, but I had no real idea of what they were like. We’d go in, play the show, come out and that was it. So I retraced my footsteps in some of the places I’d enjoyed the most, went and just immersed myself in them without an agenda or time limit. It all led me back to where my family originally come from, a small town in Tuscany, called Barga. It’s a small medieval town untouched by commercialism or consumerism. It’s genuinely like getting in a time machine and going back 60 years. There’s a different drive completely. There’s no “let’s work as much as we can to take as much as we can” attitude. Their focus really is on valuing each day, which was amazing. I went with my family and I thought I’d stay on for a week, but it turned into three months. I got myself a tiny little apartment. I had my guitar, a laptop and a microphone with a basic little recording set-up. It was just something I’d never really done before. I also spent some time in Jamaica, and I read a lot about a poet called Mutabaruka. He explains Rastafarianism in a way that’s quite digestible for someone who’s not from that culture. It’s about the significance of reconnecting with things, making163 things with your hands; what that can do and how it can make you feel. You can’t underestimate it. That was the first time I really started feeling like a man and not a boy.

DID YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU WERE BEGINNING TO BECOME TOO MUCH OF A “POP STAR”?
Even I was beginning to piss myself off hearing myself complain! I remember actually stopping myself once, mid-aggressive conversation, because we’d gone to this five-star resort and the jacuzzi was cold. I just thought, “If only my mum could hear me now!” I’m walking around with my fucking first world issues and I thought, “Am I going to write about these problems?” The break I took didn’t feel like a break as such but more a readjustment. I could feel myself on the road to somewhere that I certainly didn’t want to go. I could have become lost or trapped in that and feel sorry for myself, and fuck knows where that could lead you. How much empathy can you get for that kind of thing? Or I could just address it and stop – change. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to paint myself as some kind of spiritual journeyman, because there was a lot of nonsense in between. Sometimes I just wanted to see my friends and do some of the things they were doing – play a bit of Xbox and get high, you know?

Read more of Paolo’s interview in Hunger Issue 7, The Fearless and watch our exclusive Dirty Video online now.

Paolo Nutini @ The Trocadero

JUMP – the Philly Music Project
SEPTEMBER 22, 2014

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Text and images by Jumah Chaguan.

He ran on stage and slid on his knees. This was his encore. With the appeal of Elvis and the working-class vibe of Springsteen, Paolo Nutini was all of that and more.

“He’s a light point,” said Theresa Paisley, a long time fan. from West Chester. “I’ve lived though the ’60s and ’70s. He’s my favorite. He pulls them all together. They all speak through him.”

Paisley held a walking stick inspired by Nutini. Nutini has said that if music doesn’t work out for him, he would make walking sticks since so many of his fans tend to be older.

This 27-year-old singer from Scotland does have a gift. In his third and latest album Caustic Love, he mixes several genres – funk, country, rock ‘n’ roll, Motown and even a bit of the psychedelic in the song “Cherry Blossom.” The romantic becomes political in his song “Iron Sky.”

Perhaps the best way to think of this artist is to imagine what a love child conceived by all the greatest singers like Otis Reading, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan and even Janis Joplin would be like. Nutini is that good.

No, he hasn’t been “discovered” in America, however, this didn’t matter to those in attendance at The Troc. The disciples came to Nutini’s church.

“He was too young and this country is too big,” explained Angela Gomez Hodgson.

Gomez has seen Nutini in more than 40 concerts in the UK and Europe. Here, in Philadelphia, he performed before around 1,000 attendees, which was a blessing to Gomez, who met him backstage. She proudly showed the picture of them together.

Nutini’s devotees are more than in love with him. His fan club came from overseas. Some people waited in line since 3 o’clock. A man held his cigarette lighter in the air and danced with abandon. The show was a spiritual revelation, long in the making for some. Isabelle Requena, 9, was hoisted on stage. Years prior she had given Nutini a tambourine.

Nutini embodied urgency, intensity and longing. He played like he was at a Super Bowl. Covered in sweat, with an exposed chest, he made every song feel like he was just getting started. He sang and looked like a dream but he was real – not too tall or too muscular. He opted for skull rings on his right hand and showed off tattooed stars on his left forearm. He appeared as a hopeful young man with a voice of an old soul and a childish smile.

Yes, Nutini is that guy you can’t hate, a beautiful spokesperson for life.

Nutini is on an American tour which includes New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and the famous Austin City Limits Festival. Upon his return to the UK, he’ll perform in Newcastle, Dublin and Cardiff, all of which have long been sold out.

Paolo Performs “Caledonia” at Sound Academy, Toronto

Caledonia is a modern Scottish folk ballad written by Dougie MacLean in 1977. The chorus of the song features the lyric “Caledonia, you’re calling me, and now I’m going home”.  The song became the most popular of all MacLean’s recordings and something of an anthem for Scotland. “Caledonia” has been covered by a great number of artists including a live 2006 recording by the singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini on a special version of his album These Streets.

Here is Paolo performing this special song at Sound Academy in Toronto on September 15, 2014. Many thanks to Angela for this beautiful video.

Caustic Love Review – Thom Jurek, Rovi

Caustic Love is the first album of new material from multi-platinum singer and songwriter Paolo Nutini since 2009’s Sunny Side Up. On that album, the whiskey-voiced Scot explored retro-soul and R&B piecemeal, weaving them into his pop palette. In the interim, the 27-year-old has been soaking up the soul and funk sounds of Motown, Atlantic, Stax, vintage New Orleans, Daptone funk, and more.Co-produced by the artist with engineer Dani Castelar, Caustic Love was recorded with a large band in Glasgow, Valencia, London, and New York. Its songs, drenched in libidinal energy, are framed inside a sound that’s gritty yet sonically rangey.

“Scream (Funk My Life Up)” evokes the psychedelic funk of the Temptations. Its reverb, breaking snares, fat basslines, chunky guitars, churning vamp, and crisp horns buoy a vocal that oozes sexual desire. “Let Me Down Easy” places Nutini in a midtempo duet with a Bettye LaVette vocal sample; he does his best Marvin Gaye to match her emotion. “One Day” recalls “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” layered with strings, rumbling percussion, furious bass, with an eerie spooky B-3 a la “Good Vibrations,” and a female backing chorus, and offers a nod to Sam Cooke; Nutini’s vocal soars between crooning and growling.

“Numpty” owes a debt to songwriter Allen Toussaint and singer Lee Dorsey for using the melody in “Working in the Coal Mine.” “Better Man,” the album’s hinge-piece, is one of the few tunes here that showcases Nutini as an emotionally intuitive singer/songwriter. It suggests the hungry Caledonian soul of the young Van Morrison, illustrated with a large female backing chorus, acoustic and electric guitars, and a knot-tight rhythm section. Single “Iron Sky,” is an indictment of religious institutions as systems of control; it contains bluesy, slippery psych-funk and unfolds gradually, gathering steam with big brassy horns and crashing cymbals framing the singer’s dramatic delivery and contains an extended sample from Charlie Chaplin’s monologue from the Great Dictator.

“Fashion” is greasy funk with Janelle Monae adding a fiery feminist rap to the middle. “Looking for Something” pays homage to D’Angelo’s nocturnal g-funk soul. “Cherry Blossom” is a lusty psych rocker with a guitar riff that suggests the Cult’s Billy Duffy, while the mix recalls Echo & the Bunnymen in the late ’80s. Closer “Someone Like You” finds the singer accompanied only by a bass in a Dion-esque early rock & roll ballad, though a stacked set of Beach Boys-style harmonies in chorale style floats in before a harp whispers it out.

Caustic Love is all about vintage sounds; its fine songs and provocative mix pay service to that stunning voice. While this set uses retro styles almost excessively, it is a thoroughly contemporary pop record in approach and execution. It takes real nerve to pull something like this off, but Nutini’s swagger is easily matched by the quality of the material and his inspired performance.

~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

CAUSTIC LOVE – U.S. Release Date! It’s here!

Is everybody ready?

CAUSTIC LOVE is now finally available for purchase in the UNITED STATES, and the amazing Paolo Nutini and the Vipers are back to perform gigs across the country over the course of the next month!

Make sure to grab your physical copy of the CD and catch out a show near you! It’s not too late to get tickets! http://www.paolonutini.com/splash/caustic-love-us

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Paolo Nutini Returns to Music After Years of Self-Discovery

ELLE
SEPTEMBER 15 3:00 PM
DAN HYMAN | CULTURE NEWS

In 2010, following the release of his sophomore album Sunny Side Up, 23-year-old Paolo Nutini took stock of his life. Since age 16, he’d been writing music, touring, building his own celebrity…and pretty much nothing else. “There was a real sense of self-absorbance,” the soulful crooner says. While his record label hounded him for another hit track, preferably one similar to his 2007 breakout single “New Shoes,” endless streams of yes-men enabled him and confused him. It just didn’t feel right. “I remember looking at pictures of myself, and I was airbrushed within an inch of my sexuality,” he adds. “I didn’t even recognize who the fuck I was.”

For Nutini, this revelation inspired him to take a lengthy break from music. Over the past few years, the shaggy-haired singer traveled extensively, wrote poetry and, for the first time in his life, felt it necessary to learn basic survival skills. “I started to learn some common sense,” he says. “Even just sort of day-to-day things. I started to cook a little bit more and try to learn to fix things around the house. If something breaks down, rather than call a guy, there’s got to be more I can do.”

Not surprisingly, however, it wasn’t long before Nutini felt the itch to write music. It’s a practice, he said, that still gives him the most poignant insight into himself. “I’ve always found that I can [express myself] much more honestly and better through my music,” Nutini says. “So for me, it’s almost like I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s become part of my personality.” Cue Caustic Love, Nutini’s third studio album, which is out tomorrow. It’s perhaps his most soul-baring effort yet.

Beneath the funk-strewn licks of “Scream (Funk My Life Up)” and the boogie groove of the Janelle Monae-featuring “Fashion,” Nutini’s new album is a lay-it-bare confessional. For the 27-year-old Scotsman, music has long been the preferred vessel for looking inward. “My songwriting… it’s almost like a kind of self-therapy,” he says. “In the sense that I think that one of the things about my songs is that I quite heavily acknowledge my faults. And the acknowledgment of one another’s faults is the highest duty imposed by our love of truth.”

When he casts his gaze outward, however, Nutini proves even more effective. On the Caustic Love centerpiece “Iron Sky” (complemented by a disturbing, thought-provoking music video directed by Daniel Wolfe), the singer challenges a world marked by gross income and class disparity to check its pulse. “To make [the world] work, to make everything better, it’s gonna take the people who hold themselves so highly above everybody else to come back to our level,” he offers. “And to the people who feel that they’re so far below everybody else to realize they really aren’t. There’s a place in the middle that we can all meet.”

Though, make no mistake: Nutini doesn’t believe himself any more enlightened than the next man. In fact, he shudders at the idea that a musician should be so narcissistic to believe he or she can pass judgment on others. “I’m not one to go down that road to say I have some kind of social consciousness,” he explains. “I think some people have done that and done that well: Like [John] Lennon and [Bob] Dylan, amongst others. But then you get, like, a Bono, for instance.”

“I was really off-kilt before,” he says of the pressing desire to now make peace with his outsize career and public persona, and simultaneously focus on finding the simple joys in life. “But I think things are aligning themselves quite well. That’s coming to me in various ways: I met a woman a month ago, and she’s one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. Things are happening on the surface, below the surface, that are helping me be a bit more happy. It’s kind of what you have to do. You only have one vessel. You’ve got to make your peace with it.”

Sergio Says! Paolo Nutini Edition

The Daily Front Row

Buckle up, ladies and gents! With soulful pipes and smoldering good looks, Adele’s favorite singer-songwriter, Scottish born hottie Paolo Nutini, is ready for his close-up. I caught up with Paolo about his phenomenal new album, opening on tour for The Rolling Stones and going commando.

Your new album is called “Caustic Love”. What does caustic mean to you?
Caustic is dangerous and acidic. I obviously love my family, I have love for what I do each day, but [love] can become a bit of an obsession. You put up boundaries to protect yourself. If you’re pursuing something, your pride swells—you don’t want to lose or be defeated. Romantic love dissolves those barriers; you’re vulnerable. It could be the most f*cking mind-shattering heartbreak or the most mind-blowing orgasm: You need to be vulnerable to experience both! When I say “caustic,” it’s about how love can wash over, like an acid rain, things that prevent you from being open and vulnerable to emotions.

Let’s talk about “Iron Sky”, the first video from the new album. Adele tweeted: “F**k!!! This is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life hands down.”What was your reaction?”
It was really the first public reaction, so immediately it was a sense of relief that at least one person got it. It was nice that when put it out there, for the first time, that there was somebody—and it was nice that it came from Adele. It’s not as if she’s always on [Twitter].

Exactly, she isn’t praising everyone!
She’s obviously a very talented woman, and it just felt like things had all aligned. If she was getting it, I thought that maybe we weren’t all mad. It was just a very nice thing for her to do; she’s smart, and the amount of people she brought the video to—I appreciate it! We spoke briefly after she tweeted it, but I haven’t been able to buy her a drink and thank her.

On the new album you have a duet with Janelle Monáe, who’s pretty intense. I’ve seen her live and I’ve interviewed her: She’s like an alien from another planet. How did that come about?
She’s so enigmatic, isn’t she? I’m a massive fan, and we share a label to an extent. That made it a bit more realistic, so I got in touch. I absolutely fell in love with her. I’m just fascinated. When she got back to me and said yeah, I remember thinking that I didn’t know if this would ever happen. All of a sudden, she came to the studio and just f*cking blew me away.

There’s so much soul in your voice, obviously inspired by authentic R&B. You’re definitely not a typical Scottish musician.
I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment! Scottish people are very romantic: we like to sing, make music, and be merry when the opportunity presents itself, which is more often than not. My grandfather had this Bowers & Wilkins vinyl deck with these two mahogany speakers, and he showed me how to put the needle down on the records. That’s when I started to fall in love with American music.

How old were you?
Oh, I was very young. My parents worked a lot when I was a child, and my grandfather had just lost my grandmother. I think we found each other at a good time. He looked like Clark Gable, a very youthful and very charming sort of guy, and a bit of a practical joker. He loved music, and he would throw all kinds of things into the mix. He played piano. I used to hear him from the next room, wander in, and he’d be playing these arias, eyes closed, head up. Songs from Aida and Verdi operas, and Enrico Caruso songs. On a Thursday night the monsignor from the local parish church would come by, and they would both sit at the piano and play Fats Domino and Boogie Woogie stuff. I called him the Boogie Woogie priest when I was a kid. So I got an education of all kinds.

So you fell in love with soul music…
I never called it soul; as a genre name it feels very flimsy to me. I mean, if I’ve not got it, then there’s a problem. We hope we’ve all got a bit of it, if we’re lucky. Because I’ve always thought that soul sounded like pigeonholing things. Where does someone like Nina Simone fit into that? What’s she? Is she a jazz singer, or a soul singer, or a blues singer? I’ve never got it. My dad had a lot of the early Elton John records, like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and I loved them. Then I met my good friend marijuana and all of a sudden it was like, D’Angelo, we’d be hanging out and Voodoo or Brown Sugar would come on. Cypress Hill records is definitely what opened up American culture to me. I watched a lot of Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Diana Ross…

What’s the best thing about being on stage every night?
My shows have evolved a lot. I’m ready to implement a lot more visual production. It’s like trying to drag what’s in my head into the songs, and then project that to the audience. I hope it helps people detach for a few hours from where they were before the show. That’s my goal!

What was it like to go on road with the Rolling Stones?
That was pretty mental. We opened up for The Rolling Stones on two shows, in Vienna and Sheffield. My band and I were like, “This cannot be happening”. Before the show, they came into the room, heard us four Scotsman talking, and said: “What one’s the Italian one, then?” My band said, “I think you’re talking about him,” pointing at me. Mick said, “No, he’s Scottish. Ah, f*ck, if I’d had known that, I wouldn’t have booked you.” [Laughs]

Who knew Mick had jokes?
He’s f*cking great. Big Cheshire smile. The Stones like people that show up and go to work and do what they do. But you also need to know how to roll. And I think a lot of bands that know how to rock, but don’t quite know how to roll.

A couple of fun questions. What’s the first thing on your mind when you wake up?
Usually it’s music.

Finish this sentence: I can’t go to bed unless I’ve…?
…Worked up a sweat.

Guilty pleasure?
ABBA.

Superhero power you would most want to have?
Oh God, there are so many good ones. I like the idea of morphing into another person.

Favorite cartoon character?
Probably Johnny Bravo.

Go-to song at a karaoke?
“My Sharona” by The Knack.

If you could have dinner with anyone famous, dead or alive, who would it be?
Dead, probably Oscar Wilde. Alive, maybe Billy Bob Thornton. He’d be a cool guy and I’ve always thought having a beer with him would be a good night. Especially after seeing Fargo.

Your worst personality trait?
I’m not a massive fan of underpants…on anybody.

Diana – Official Video

Well, it’s here and it’s ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING.    I’ve got to say this video floored us.  So while I could go on and on and on, I won’t.  Just watch it.  We can’t embed it yet, as hungertv.com has the exclusive rights at the moment, but here’s THE LINK.

 

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This is what it says on their site:

Paolo Nutini has had quite a year. Following a five year hiatus, this April saw the release of his comeback album, the powerful “Caustic Love”, which received critical acclaim across the board and put Paolo firmly back on the map as one of our most celebrated British musicians. And for good reason, few others today can match his candid songwriting and raw, rasping talent. And to top it off, Paolo is not afraid to speak his mind, and it was exactly this frank attitude that made him an obvious choice for The Fearless issue.


You can read part of Paolo’s interview on Hunger TV next week, but before that, we’ve got something rather exciting for you. On the day of his shoot with Rankin Paolo took a trip into our Dirty Video studio for an exclusive rendition of album track “Diana”. And he wasn’t alone. A rousing tale of a lost relationship, we set out to find the perfect Diana, and found her in model and actress Amber Anderson, who graced one of our twenty Mighty Blighty covers back in February. Tune in to see exactly what happened when Paolo met Amber. We think you’ll agree, this is one of our best Dirty Videos to date…



Read Paolo’s exclusive interview in the Fearless issue of Hunger magazine, out now.

 

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DIANA
Words and Music by Paolo Nutini and Dave Nelson

Drowning in you, asking nothing, aching
Do you believe in passion and romance
Needing to be within us and around us

Diana she loves me
No innocence or compromise
Diana she loves me
The only way she knows

When your soul is in flight
You set your body free
And under your lightning glistens
In all its fantasy
And there’s a shiver of velvet tension
From an astralized dimension
Emanating beneath our liberty
While for some love is whips and chains
And perpetual parlour games
I stand for you, you open up to me

And she said she wants the loneliness to go
But she won’t give up for nothing

Diana she loves me
No innocence or compromise
Diana she loves me
The only way she knows

Diana she loves me
No innocence or compromise
Diana she loves me
The only way she knows

 

 

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