The Dark Bard. That’s what one of the comments on our review of Johnny Dowd’s splendid album That’s Your Wife On The Back Of My Horse called the man. The commentator seems deeply immersed in Dowd’s music, witness his website here so the Dark Bard it is. Anyhow, the DB himself was kind enough to take some time out from his preparations for his UK and European dates later this month to answer a few questions we winged over to him.
The new album, That’s Your Wife On The Back Of My Horse is pretty much a solo effort with you recording all of the instruments yourself, something you haven’t done since your debut, Wrong Side Of Memphis. Was there any particular reason for this?
There were reasons for this–financial and artistic–but mostly it just happened that way—one thing lead to another and presto chango the album was done—might have sounded better with a real drummer who wasn’t a machine-I hope this answers your question
I read that the title is lifted from a line in Johnny Guitar Watson’s Gangster of Love song where he’s baiting the sheriff. Is this a favourite song of yours?
I love that song, I even like the Steve Miller version–Johnny Guitar Watson is MONSTER talent, better than The Beatles
A lot of the album sounds electronic but the sleeve only credits guitar bass and keyboards. I presume a lot of the sounds came from a synthesizer or some such keyboard, can you tell us a bit about the equipment?
What you say is true. Matt Saccuccimorano mixed the record and put voodoo on the basic tracks–thus a guitar might end up sounding synth like–and of course I ran the bass, guitar and drum thru various mind altering pedals –so what might have begun as a Howling Wolfish tune became more King Crimsonish
White Dolemite is a fine and funky piece of braggadocio with references to hot pants and spanking. I take it it’s a tribute of sorts to the Blaxploitation movie Dolemite.
Absolutely —Rudy Ray Moore is a genius
Although you’ve stamped your authority on all of the songs it seems to me that at times you’re almost blatantly referencing influences, sixties TV themes in Cadillac Hearse, Iggy Pop on The Devil Don’t Bother Me for example. Am I making this up or do you have specific sounds, songs or genres in mind when you wrote these?
Now Paul, I’m not sure if blatantly is the way I would describe it but anyway–maybe I am being too sensitive —I don’t have anything much in mind when I am writing the songs but it’s true when I listen back the ghosts of all my influences is there—I don’t really hear the Iggy thang on Devil but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there–it’s not really important what my intention was because I don’t know or have forgotten–the train left the station without me
Why? is a glorious song that sounds cosmic and cornball at the same time. With some great absurdist lyrics ” somewhere in Oklahoma, just a few miles from the beach, stood a cowboy with a surfboard and unto me he began to preach…..” and with Anna Coogan’s lovely refrains it’s like The Man who Fell To Earth remade by David Lynch. Can you describe how a song like this comes together, where you get the idea and lyrics from?
Yea–Anna is killing on that song–she was a real important cog [along with Matt] in the machine–that song is probably as close to an autobiographical song as I will ever write–the last verse [about the spaceman] is a feeling that has haunted me whole life–I can’t describe any better than I did in the song
Can I ask about the hero of your last album, Do The Gargon. Is he still around or have you laid him to rest?
Gargon is retired and living in Key West Fla
You’re coming to Europe in April. What can we expect to hear and see?
I will be touring with Mic Edmondson on guitar and his wife [and my sister] will be doing the tour managing–Mic and i have been playing on and off for about 25 years so we have some good chemistry–I’ll have my drum machines, synths, and guitars–we will be playing mostly new arrangements of songs off the new record pus a bunch of golden oldies. A few covers [Louie Louie etc]—poems, stories—pretty much a free form wtf kinda show–plus my friend Mark Lotterman will doing the opening slot and there is not a finer singer-songwriter performer out there–! Hope to see you soon Paul—thanks -Johnny
2015.04.09 Krefeld (DE) @ Kulturrampe
2015.04.10 Eeklo (BE) @ N9
2015.04.11 Nottingham (UK) @ Guitar Bar
2015.04.12 London (UK) @ The Islington
2015.04.13 Eye (UK) @ The Bank Eye
2015.04.14 Brighton (UK) @ Prince Albert
2015.04.15 Leicester (UK) @ The Musician
2015.04.16 Lille (FR) @ La Peniche
2015.04.17 Eindhoven (NL) @ Blue Collar Hotel
2015.04.18 Rotterdam (NL) @ V11
2015.04.20 Zurich (CH) @ El Lokal
2015.04.21 Frankfurt (DE) @ Dreikoningskeller
2015.04.22 Norderstedt (DE) @ Harksheide
2015.04.23 Amsterdam (NL) @ Paradiso Upstairs
2015.04.24 Zeist (NL) @ De Peppel
2015.04.25 Hengelo (NL) @ Heartland Festival
And here’s an oldie that is too good not to revisit.