Interview: Buford Pope

He’s the dude they call Buford Pope. The King of Scandicana, cooler than a dip in a fjord, he’s everything you’d want in roots rock.  Earle, Dylan, Springsteen, Cash, this ain’t no hipster chic or wannabe genre come lately – he’s butch, tough and rough.  Pope makes ‘chopping logs’ country and is more a  V8 stick shift kinda guy. Praise be to that! 

Six Albums in, did you think you would get here?
Yes!

How do you see your progression as an artist?
I’ve always had a lot of thoughts, the only way to get some peace of mind it’s to write about it. After all these songs and performances I’m closer to getting there!

This the first ‘proper’ album since ‘Stick in the Throat’.  It’s been a big gap, how come?
I really wanted to create a sound that came to mind a very long time ago. It took awhile to find the right studio and gear to accomplish that!

The last album was a reissue, a reworking?
Well, the record was finished and mastered in 2006 but I never had the right opportunity to release it. When I was in the studio working on the new album, I thought it was a good thing to give it some air!

Is there a big back catalogue?
Yes, I’ve recorded quite a few songs…

This record is gentler, are you in a different place now?
I’m a gentle guy!!! These songs are from a wide time frame, a few tunes go back ten years! I think I’m at the same place but things around me have changed.

Did it feel like that when you were writing it/recording it?
Yes, this is probably a lot of me!

How is it writing in a second language?
I love writing in English, I really do. Sometimes it gets complicated. I mean when a sentence first comes to mind in Swedish and I just can’t get the right feel in English, but that could also be a good thing, it makes it wider…

You ever write in Swedish at all?
I’ve tried but I must say it’s hard.  Right now I don’t feel comfortable to sing in Swedish, but that could change!

What do Sweden and Swedes make of what you do?
I don’t know, not much I guess!

Is there a scene for Americana music?
Yes, but a really small one.  I think that pure country is a big thing in Sweden.

Are there places to play?
Yes, but mostly for known acts.  People, in general, don’t like to see bands that they don’t know about.

Other bands?
Yes, Sweden has a lot of great musicians and bands in this genre.

Does being a Swede give you a different viewpoint on this sort of music?
Well, as a Swede you probably write about different things. On the other hand, the English language comes so naturally in Sweden we’re so used to the sound of it. We know so much more about you than you know about us!

You are heavily influenced by the likes of Springsteen, The Band, Skynrd, and Young I guess?
Yes, you got that right!

Who else?
Bob Dylan has always been my biggest hero. He is one of the reasons that I wanted to express my thoughts with music!

On the album you have some great people – Tobias Froberg is super cool, and the Worry Dolls?
It’s been such a pleasure to meet Tobias Froberg and to have him onboard.
I was introduced to the Worry Dolls by a really cool dude in the UK, I went over to London to meet them and we wrote a few songs together. Their voices are just amazing, so there was no doubt that they should sing some harmonies on my upcoming album! I’m honoured that all these musicians and singers wanted to be a part of this album.

You made the record in Sweden?
Yes, in Vall Recording studio. Not far from my former hometown, Visby. The owner, Alexander Härnlöv, has built this studio in a piece of a barn. We recorded on tape with vintage microphones. We had a really good time!

I think previously you recorded or wrote in Nashville?
Actually, I haven’t recorded in Nashville but I went over there to meet some other musicians and to write songs. I really loved that trip. I remember especially one evening, myself and a friend wanted to see Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell at the City Winery but it was sold out.  Somehow we managed to get in, an unforgettable night!

Are you going to tour the record?
Yes, I will tour the record!  Hopefully, I’ll make my first tour in the UK!

Blue Eyed Boy is out now.

Author: Rudie Hayes

Rudie is the weekly host of the syndicated radio show – The Horseshoe Lounge Music Session – playing the best American Roots and hosting terrific live guests.

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