Van Life – Peter Bruntnell

Regular visitors to this site wont need me to tell you the level of regard we here at Americana-UK  hold for Peter Bruntnell. One of the UK’s finest troubadours, Bruntnell has been writing some of the greatest songs the genre has heard over the last twenty years. Since causing a stir on the US college rock scene with his seminal ‘Normal For Bridgwater’ album in the late 90’s, the New Zealand born songsmith has become a byword for quality and class, both as a solo performer and when tearing it up with his band. Ahead of  new album and UK dates, Americana-UK catches up with the songwriter to see how things will shape up out on the road and what sounds he’ll have with him to ease the strain.

First off Peter, while I have you, tell us a little bit more about the new record? What can we expect?
The new record is called ‘King of Madrid.’ I recorded the drums and bass in a barn in Kings Langley that is at the bottom of the garden of some friends of mine – Bob and Barb. It’s a great sounding drum room, basically, so I didn’t have to try too hard with miking up the kit. Once we’d tracked all the drums I took it home and added vocals and guitars etc. Apart from the regular band line up I’d been playing a few shows with BJ Cole on pedal steel so it made sense to try and get him on the record which turned out very well. It’s a tuneful record, I think. I suppose it has a sixties pop influence but I wasn’t trying to copy anything sonically, just the vibe I think? I don’t know, it’s very difficult to be objective about something that I’ve been so immersed in. I don’t want to listen to it at all at the moment! I do enjoy the recording process very much and would like to do more, you know, for other artists. I must try and pursue that!

Sounds great! Ok, so how’s touring for you? Enjoyable? Nightmare? A uninspiring necessity?
I enjoy it mostly. Touring in the US is particularly fun. I like the food options and the shopping and the weather. Europe’s great too though. I love to travel so it suits me. I did do a tour with Kathleen Edwards a few years ago where I rode and slept in their tour bus, that was pretty fun, show finishes then, we’re traveling through the night to the next town. Lots of videos watched late into the night and sleeping in a bunk with the rhythm of the road beneath you. No hotels, though, so I wouldn’t want to do that every time, love hotels me! Trick is not to get drunk every night which, when you’re young and foolish, is not so easy.

I’d imagine the glovebox is full of gems, Peter? You are clearly a man of impeccable taste!
Ok, lets see. Something from Alex Chilton, I love his guitar playing. ‘What’s Your Sign’ which is on ‘Man Called Destruction.’

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, the clean one pre Derek and Clive, probably the most worn out cd in the bag!

Goreki  ‘Symphony Of Sad Songs.’  I bought after I heard it on radio 3 last year.

David Sedaris.  ‘Live For Your Listening.’  It’s all great, but I like the first track especially a fable about the cat that goes to the baboon for a haircut.

I don’t listen to that much pop music but ‘Surfs Up’  (Beach Boys) would be a favourite. The title track especially!

‘Strawberry Blonde’ by Ron Sexsmith. One of the best!

Maybe a Son Volt track. I’ve listened to them for so long?  ‘Creasote’ from ‘Straightaways.’  I could probably choose another 6 from Son Volt ‘Angel Of The Blues‘ from ‘Honky Tonk.

‘Hazey Jane‘ Nick Drake. Can’t leave that boy out. My number one artist.

And ‘Elegance’ by Prefab Sprout. By Genius songwriter Paddy McAloon.

King Of Madrid‘ is released on May 24th

UK Dates:

14- The Rambling Roots Fest. High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

29-The Musician, Leicester
30- Gullivers, Manchester
31-The New Continental, Preston

1- Full Band plus BJ Cole at The Ent Shed, Bedford
6- The Half Moon, Putney
7- Pilton Village Hall, Barnstaple, Devon
8- Cinema & Co, Swansea
9- The Con Club, Lewes.

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One word Peter’s music ‘essential’