Q, September 2013

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Elvis Costello

"Blair was a bigger f**ker than Thatcher ever was"

Q magazine

Elvis Costello on free gigs, politics and his new album with The Roots

You and Ray Davies just played a free gig for 60,000 fans in Hyde Park after Elton John fell ill…

Yes, I haven't actually seen Elton but I hope he's OK. I agree with free stuff. It's summer. Take a ball down to the park and listen to some music. I also saw it as a subtle act of insurgency. Elton has millions of fans. I wanted to nick a few of them.

You've also just finished your 31st album, Wise Up Ghost, with The Roots. You've done rock, pop, country, classical. Are you trying to prove something?

Not at all. The Roots are an incredible band and the house band for (US chat show) The Jimmy Fallon Show. I was invited on the show and it turns out Quest (Ahmir "?uestlove” Thompson, Roots leader) knows some of my music better than I do. We ended up recording and it turned into an album.

You wrote "Watching The Detectives" drinking an entire jar of instant coffee while listening to the first Clash album. Is your creative process still the same?

Yes. After a period of being inspired by stronger stuff I am back round to coffee. Better shit now, obviously. I have a machine. But it's my only vice. Why do you think that song ¡s so jerky? I drank a lot of coffee before nailing that chorus.

You sang [anti-Thatcher song] "Tramp The Dirt Down" at Glastonbury last month. Is it still relevant?

I think it is. Thatcher mutated into Blair. He was a bigger fucker than she ever was. I mean it. History will judge him. She started a little war (the Falklands). He started one that still hasn't ended. And the useless slimeballs we have now are very much hers and his children…

On "Tramp The Dirt Down" you hope to see Thatcher die. Were you triumphant?

I don't wish death on anyone. There was Thatcher, the person, and then there were her ideas. My father died of Parkinson's-related dementia a year and a half ago. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy So no, not triumphant at all. But at the same time there are people who do things in politics which are repulsive to me.

You performed "Penny Lane" with Paul McCartney for Barack Obama at the White House not along ago. How was that?

I don't agree with everything Obama does either but he comes across as a decent man and obviously he has great taste in music. Me, Paul, Jack White and the Jonas Brothers were there. We had a US Marine playing the "Penny Lane" horn parts. We sounded alright.

Have you ever told Paul McCartney you once sold your copy of A Hard Day's Night to pay a gas bill?

I've known Paul for 30 years and I have never told him that. It's true, though But when I signed my first record deal with Stiff I used the money to buy it back,. And you know what? I don't think I was ever happier in life than strumming along to that record.

Wise Up Ghost is out 16 September.

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Q, No. 326, September 2013

Q magazine interviews Elvis Costello ahead of the release Wise Up Ghost.


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