INTERVIEW: Edwyn Collins | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Naming his ninth solo album Badbea, after a ruined village on the east coast of Caithness, suggests that the wit is still strong with seminal pop maestro Edwyn Collins. Some 40 years into his career, and as the album title suggests still the eternal outsider, Badbea reminds us that behind the modest charm and delicate guitars of Orange Juice, Collins’ main strength is his ability to reject the nature of cool for the sound of sincerity. Whilst contemporaries may have gone on to greater record sales and severe bust-ups, Collins’ style has stuck around for the long term; something which Badbea is already in the process of replicating. “I’m really proud of the way Badbea has been received,” confirms Collins, some six months after its release, “it’s a record which has different sounds but one collective theme; a theme which seems to connect with other people and I’m enjoying watching the reaction to the record.”

With its theme built on nostalgia (“I’ve never usually been someone who looks back”), Badbea is a complex record, varying from moments of Northern Soul as on It’s All About You, through to the gospel stylings of I’m Okay Jack; a combination of sounds which develop the record, but could be tricky to replicate in the live setting. “I play with musicians I’ve played with for over twenty years so whilst some of the songs may vary in style quite a lot, we know each other well enough to be able to move through genres easily. Those players are so talented that there’s seldom a wrong note played live.”

Collins’ main strength is his ability to reject the nature of cool for the sound of sincerity

Bringing Badbea to a live setting, on perhaps his longest tour since suffering two life-changing strokes in 2005, Collins is already excited about what the experience will bring. “When we started, we didn’t have anywhere to go or to play so we tended to create a community with people who were like ourselves. It was really tight knit, and we all helped each other.  I want to recreate that feel with this tour. The North of England, particularly Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sunderland, were really important to me when we first started; they gave us a home outside of our home and we really felt like our community spread further than just our home city.” 

A feeling of acceptance that has never left him, Collins is particularly looking forward to returning to the North East of England, and admits that his 2014 gig at Middlesbrough’s Westgarth Social Club was one of his favourites in recent years. “We didn’t see that coming, but we’ve played there a lot and it’s always a great place to play with great noise. The whole of the North East has always been very welcoming to us.”

Back with a great new album, and a real drive to create communal shows, his gig at Newcastle’s Boiler Shop on Wednesday 4th September may well see Collins at the top of his game.

Edwyn Collins plays the Boiler Shop, Newcastle on Wednesday 4th September


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