It’s just gone lunchtime and Paolo Nutini isn’t having a great day.
“Sorry mate, the phone is making such a stupid noise right now. It’s this touchscreen phone thing they’ve got in the hotel – I just want to take my f**king hands to it, you know? It just won’t stop.”
Assurances that he can be heard perfectly and attempts to steer him towards the subject of music don’t deter the 27 year-old Scotsman from getting some choice complaints off his chest.
“I’m just in this hotel and it’s all so streamlined,” he says. “What I can’t stand are the taps and soap-dispensers. They should just have a handle that you turn to make the water come out, or a button you press to get soap. Now it’s all motion sensors; I’m standing in front of it like some sort of Jedi trying to wash my dirty hands, as if I have all day to stand here dancing with this f**king contraption.”
One subject that calms the multi-platinum-selling singer and songwriter down is Bluesfest, at which he will be performing in 2015, although it’s the memory of a previous festival experience that gets the conversation flowing most freely.
“The last time we played Bluesfest, I remember looking at the bill and seeing the name Rodriguez,” he says. “My friend had introduced me to his music when I was about 16 or 17, and I’ve always been fascinated by those two records of his. For years nobody knew anything about him; there was something otherworldly about him. People were wondering whether he was alive or not, and nobody could find out that information. I managed to meet the man himself that day. He was exactly what you would imagine, you know? Elegant, charming and everything I had hoped for. It was weird after that, because we got to know each other in a way; he came to our show in the States, I got to know his family and since then we’ve played on stage a couple of times together. One day I even got sent a little bit of footage of him singing my song ‘Last Request’, which is one of my prize possessions. Now, I play that song more the way he played it than I ever used to. I’m almost covering a cover of my own song. I’ve heard rumours of him making a new record; I just hope whoever is making it with him takes the right approach and makes it as good as it should be. I’m excited to hear what new music from him would be like.”
Nutini and his band will appear at the festival in April as part of a typically impressive line-up, which includes legendary funk godfather George Clinton.
“I love some of the mad sounds on the [Parliament/Funkadelic] records,” he says. “He’s a wild character and really individual. You don’t get a lot of George Clintons around in today’s music scene. The Black Keys are a great band; they seem to be smashing it wherever they go. And I believe there’ll be a bit of the Gypsy Kings as well. Alabama Shakes, Jurassic 5, Gary Clark Jr., Pokey LaFarge; it’s a pretty tasty bill. I’m just looking forward to getting on there playing, sampling the atmosphere and enjoying the fruits of the soil. I remember Byron Bay being a great smelling place [laughs].”
His latest album, Caustic Love, has earned rave reviews, but it only came about after over four years away from music; something Nutini offers several explanations for.
“Mainly because I’m f**king hopeless, that’s why,” he laughs. “Well, there’s an element of that, but sometimes I let good things get me very high and they can take me away somewhere. All of a sudden I can find that a few weeks have gone and that has had a knock-on effect when you’re working with other people as well – you can’t just pick up people and put them down. The other side of that is that I let negative things drag me down, you know? I can find myself wallowing; it’s something I’ve noticed about myself. Then I’ve just been liking the idea of working with my hands; I was getting a great sense of pleasure and achievement from days where maybe all I did was cook or plant a few things in the garden. I was picking up some wood and trying to do some carving. I was also travelling around places with no agenda; around Valencia and Barcelona then maybe to the Netherlands. I was re-tracing the footsteps of places I’d been on tour and not really seen much stuff, and I was writing all the time. I liked the fact that there was no schedule and no pressure. It’s nice to feel you’re not being challenged all the time. I think my body might’ve need a bit of life nutrition; I had to expand my mind a little bit.”
PAOLO NUTINI PLAYS BYRON BAY BLUESFEST SAT 4TH APRIL 2015. CAUSTIC LOVE IS OUT NOW.