Elvis Costello wants to set the record straight. Despite what he said in a recent BBC documentary, hinting that “Wise Up Ghost” could be his final recording, it’s not true.
“What I said was that I wasn’t sure if the time I devoted to record making was a good use of my resources any more. It seems like it was somewhat of a fool’s errand,” he said. “I didn’t say, ‘I didn’t want to record because I’d lost interest in recording.’ I had to acknowledge that there was no longer a justification for me indulging myself in recording and spending time away from my family and other responsibilities.”
On this day, he’s is doing exactly that — spending time at home with his wife, singer Diana Krall, and their two sons. He’s taking a break between a solo tour and his upcoming “Imposters” tour, while “looking out on the Vancouver skyline and wondering if the sun’s ever going to come out.”
Over the course of a half-hour interview, the 59-year-old British singer-songwriter goes into such detail in answering each question, it’s hard to get in more than a few queries.
Yet, in the way his mind delves into and jumps from subject to subject, he covers everything from blood harmony and a new Bob Dylan project to music piracy and his favorite soccer team — the Liverpool Football Club.
More than 40 years after he burst on the scene as a New Wave Buddy Holly look-alike, fighting his way through nasal angst to find occasional beauty in ballads, Costello has vastly broadened his musical repertoire.
He still rarely leaves a show without playing “Watching the Detectives” or “Alison” or “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.”
But these days he’s more likely to find inspiration in Americana, bluegrass, folk and country. And just when you think you’ve got him pegged, along comes “Wise Up Ghost,” his collaboration with the Philly hip-hop group, The Roots — one of the most unusual of 2013.
Before he takes the stage with the Imposters next Wednesday at the Green Music Center, the son of big-band singer, Ross McManus, took a break to chat about family, soccer and Johnny Depp.
On politics in music: “You can get on your high horse imagining that you’re influencing events by standing on stage and singing songs. But if you don’t sing what you feel, then what are you doing? Are you just providing a mild distraction while we tumble along toward the rotating knives?”
On music piracy: “It’s all being done under the phony pretense of revolution and innovation, when it’s actually just piracy. I’d have more respect for them if they were straight-up. But meanwhile, I’ll go and do what I do (performing night after night), which you can’t steal. You can only think you’re stealing it.”
On playing a recent “Brothers McManus” show with his brothers Ronan and Ruairi: “It was a gas. We got booked to play the Royal Botanical Gardens, so we were covered in pollen and butterflies while playing. It was a very unusual show, with a lot of people eating picnics on the lawn.”
On discovering that Johnny Depp randomly filled in for him during the recording of the new Bob Dylan project “Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes”: “I’m at the film playback and they pan around the room and there’s Marcus (Mumford) singing these great lyrics and they keep panning around the room and there’s Johnny Depp sitting in my chair! I’d like to have that quality of a stand-in at all times. That will be one of the few conditions that I lay down — if I’m not going to be there, we must have that quality of handsomeness in that chair.”
On the Imposters: “We don’t get to play very often as a band right now, so the upcoming shows should have a sense of discovery to them.”
On soccer, his favorite sport: “It’s a maddening game, but I have no interest in any other sport, except curling.”
Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014 or firstname.lastname@example.org.