BAXTER DURY | INTERVIEW
The man who some (well, someone) call “the beatnik Danny Dyer” talked to Steven Matthew in anticipation of his gig at Cardiff’s Tramshed in April. As things stand, you’re looking at September for that, but Baxter Dury has a new album out today, and Buzz has a cheerful interview!
Baxter Dury is not who you think he is.
In recent weeks, the famous son of Blockheads singer Ian Dury has been snapped in all manner of ridiculous get-up. A quick Google search will unearth a photo of him lying in a bath wearing a pristine cream suit with no shirt underneath, a rubber duck delicately balanced near his crotch. “The other day I got a spray tan and wore a chain,” he chuckles over the phone, in his distinctive West London purr.
“It’s funny that the consequence of taking the piss out of something you’ve created is actually getting a lot of attention from it, especially from women. It is a little bit tongue-in-cheek – I don’t walk around with an open shirt.”
The mocking, sleazy caricature adopted by Dury is one we’ve seen before – see his depraved, Weinstein-esque Miami character from 2017’s Prince Of Tears – but it’s dialled up another notch on sixth album The Night Chancers, an outward-looking follow-up to its introspective, often melancholy predecessor. It’s a wry, sometimes scathing look at the creatures of the night and early morning, people who crave the spotlight or keep you up late partying next door, described through Dury’s witty, surrealistic lens and unique mockney delivery.
It’s a reflection on how he observes tiny interactions (“It’s Jane Austen, isn’t it?”), both his and others, real and imagined – “an impressionistic bunch of people and experiences. I’m always a natural songwriter, I don’t pretend I’m riding horses or that I’m Genghis Khan. I always talk about the failures rather than the successes, because they make better copy.
“At one point I had a girlfriend, then I didn’t and I was a bit upset, and I printed those emotions. Then I wasn’t so upset, and I printed those emotions again.”
Messy depictions of masculinity on the album aren’t directly inspired by real-life events like #MeToo, but Dury concedes there’s a flavour there.
“It’s definitely about interaction between men and women. It’s very current. I’m not interested in a perverse way, but I’m interested in everyone’s position and how you can be blind to your own actions as a man. There’s nothing malicious in it – I think everyone’s got a duty to update, haven’t they?
“A lot of people my age are married, and maybe the fact that I’m not allows me to carry on talking about my own life. If you’re dating and stuff, you come across that question, that issue, and what you need to do to make everyone feel equal. I think that’s very important. I’m not encouraging any kind of behaviour; anything non-consensual… sexually persuasive people, they’re all motherfuckers; ghastly people are ghastly people.”
Dury has been subject to more scrutiny than most over the years – tiresome headlines, endless questions about his dad. More recently, though, he’s been recognised for the increasing quality of his own work, an artist who has firmly found his voice.
“I had someone the other day say I was the beatnik Danny Dyer and a nepotistic chancer, and I thought ‘there we are, I definitely made an impression on that person’. I’m not an egotist, I’m not trying to be famous. I’m just trying to make music the only way I know how.”
Today, Dury lives in his father’s old house in West London with his 17-year-old son Cosmo, but he is going to be busy in the coming months. He recently signed a book deal and was, at the time of the interview, about to hop on tour, global health threats pending.
“It’s not the best time to release an album, in the middle of a pandemic,” he admits. “At some point people are going to be more concerned about stocking up on soup than they are about listening to music, so let’s see what happens.”
Despite his success, he’s aware of the pressing need to mix things up after three albums of, as he hilariously describes it, “a bloke talking over music in a dull accent”.
“I just think it’s really tired. I’ve done it well, and I don’t think I need to do it again. The danger is thinking you’re too good when you’re actually unaware of how shit you’re becoming. I don’t think that’s happened yet though. You can only change within reason; you can’t start yodelling and then expect anyone to listen. I think I’m top of my game in my genre and the only person in it, and that’s all that matters.”
Tramshed, Cardiff, Tue 29 Sept. Tickets: £18. Info: 029 2023 5555 / www.tramshedcardiff.com