Translated: Sverre Ronny Saetrum  



Elvis Costello promises both old and new songs when plays at “Vossajazz”
tonight. “We use simple arrangements, just the guitar and piano. That way
the songs get a timeless characterisation, and I feel able to play old and
new songs in a mixture.”

Costello didn’t have time for more than a quick mid-morning visit to Bergen
yesterday, he had to board the train to Voss and “Vossajazz”. Hence, there
was only time for a half-hour chat with “BA”, but that’s more than
sufficient time to understand that this guy’s got a hectic schedule, and a
variety of projects to be sorted out. 

First of all, there’s tonight’s concert at “Vossajazz”, with Elvis on
guitar and  his old mate from the Attractions, Steve Nieve, on piano. 

“After quite a bit of touring with this concept, I’ve discovered just how
much two people can accomplish on stage. I can build the performance from a
quiet starting point and eventually play really loud. Right now I prefer
this way of playing to the way I use to with full-blast from the start, as
it usually is when you play with a rock band.  We recently tried this out
in some Italian opera-houses, and it turned out fantastic”.

Elvis Costello has a career going back some 20 years, and he’s been trying
out a variety of musical-styles in these years. Recently he made some music
for the “X-files” with Brian Eno, he’s collaborated with the well-known
string ensemble; “The Brodsky Quartet”, and he’s written music for a
symphony orchestra. This year he’ll be recording an album made with Burt

“Even if I do a variety of things in different musical styles, I hope that
this eventually will be seen as one large picture, rather than small
fragments”, says the guy who many think of as the greatest songwriter
today. He’s put the strife with his former record-label, Warner Brothers
behind him, a struggle which ended with his contract being dissolved.
“The changes in that company made it impossible for me to continue working
with them. Luckily I got out in time”, Elvis explains, and his next
project, the Bacharach-collaboration, will be released on Mercury.

The compilation “Extreme honey”, consisting of music from his
Warner-period, 1989-96, is partly the result of Elvis declining to  another
new album for Warner, and the compromise was “EH”. 

“ I stand completely for the selection of songs on the album, but initially
I felt that it was a bit early to release a compilation from that period.
On the other hand, many of the songs deserve to get the extra attention
that they get with this release”.

The great project of the year is his collaboration with Burt Bacharach:

“We’ve written all the material, it’s just not been recorded yet. We start
the recording next week. The degree of co-operation varies from song to
song, on some of them I’ve only written the lyrics, while on others we are
equal collaborators. I’m really looking forward to recording them because
they’re fantastic songs. I wish I could do some of them at “Vossajazz”, but
it wouldn’t really be right to do them until we know what the
studio-versions will sound like.
I will do the one song we have released, though, it’s called “God give me

One of the most special things about the Bacharach collaboration is that
when Elvis and Burt have released their versions, the record company Verve
will release some jazz-interpretations  of the same songs. This is a very
different and new way of working and one that really put demands on the
quality of the songs.

Elvis Costello will not participate in classifying Burt Bacharach as
“redundant” and a “has-been”:

“ Burt writes fantastic songs. The reason his career has had it’s ups and
downs is perhaps because he’s first and foremost a composer and not a
performer. It’s a bit more difficult to keep the public’s attention over a
period of time if you don’t perform your music yourself”.

Elvis Costello´s future plans doesn’t stop with the Bacharach-album,
though, he says he wants to do a “really loud solo-album” next year.

“ I can’t really envision myself going back to a traditional rock-band, I
think that side of me has been exhausted. But I would like to explore the
possibility of making music with machines”.

This doesn’t mean you’re planning to go techno, does it ??

“No, ´cause I do believe that electronic music has a lot more potential
than techno is able to use. I want to create the same energy as in rock,
but with other instruments”
the British multi-talent concludes, but that’s something we’ll have to wait
another year for...... 

( Interview by Nils Olav Severaas, “Bergens Arbeiderblad”)