Ruarri Joseph plays The Stables in Wavendon, Milton Keynes on Friday night, in support of his stunning fourth album, Brother, which is released this coming Monday.
Largely informed by the loss of a close friend who passed away in 2010, and the sense of strengthened friendships that bloomed out of their community’s collective grieving, it also marks Ruarri’s return to the Warner Music fold.
Ruarri took on the challenge of our Cue and Play. Here’s what he had to say...
Tell us about the first record you bought/downloaded
Nirvana Unplugged probably. Or a Smashing Pumpkins record…Siamese Dream maybe? I can’t remember.
An album that you can’t live without - and why
Alice by Tom Waits. I’ve listened to it a million times and still it manages to blow me away. I find something new in it every time, it’s just endless and so, so beautiful.
Your favourite cheesy disc (it will be our secret...)
Is Last Request by Paolo Nutini cheesy? Any song that says “Baby, tell me how can this be wrong?” has got to be cheesy, but it’s a great song and what a voice.
An album you wish you’d bought, but didn’t
I have it now, but I wish I’d bought Funeral by Arcade Fire much sooner.
What about your favourite artist of all time? What is the attraction?
It’d have to be Dylan. I’m fascinated by him really. It’s his lyrics that make him unique. He has the ability to say so much with so little and it’s all with such honesty. I find myself going back to his records more and more. My dad is a fanatic and I grew up with his voice always on in the background so it’s almost like a religious thing. I’m a fundamentalist Dylan fan that won’t be swayed even by his 80’s period!
If we could grant you a wish to meet one musician or band, who would it be and why?
I’m not really bothered about meeting people, I’m too socially awkward. I’d genuinely like to meet Pearl Jam but only if I could tell them a story.
What question would you ask them?
Can I tell you a story?
Name a song that never fails to pick you up
Are You Ready for the Country, by Neil Young.
And one that chills you out...
Alameda by Elliott Smith
What was the first gig you attended
There’s a venue on the beach in Perranporth that had live bands every weekend when I was a young teen. The band didn’t matter, I just got such a buzz out of the atmosphere of live music. The first big ticketed gig I went to was Metallica in Wellington, New Zealand.
I walked out after about four songs I was so bored.
Tell us about your favourite record shop or online store, and what the appeal is
My favourite shop used to be Solo Music in Truro, but it was an indie store that had to close when HMV and Fopp set up shop down the street. Now both of them have gone too. I haven’t found a way of getting music that is as satisfying as browsing through a shop yet and as a result I listen to a lot less music than I used to. I trawl around youtube mostly, trying to discover things but it feels kind of sad.
You can step into the shoes of your musical idol for 24 hours. Who do you choose and what would you do?
Well Dylan’s been on tour since 1987 so I might miss him out and go for Tom Waits instead. I’d send a message to Ruarri Joseph that I wanted him to come and play on my next record.
Is there a new or undiscovered artist that you think we need to hear? Spill the beans.
There’s a band called Brother and Bones who are friends of mine that I think are going to do well this year. They have a great ‘no compromise’ attitude to their music and it’s always turned up to 11.
You can banish one artist to the bargain bin. Who do you choose?
The people you’d throw in the bin don’t deserve to be called ‘artists’, they’re just people but then that opens up the question to the point where you’d need a land fill not a bin.
You’ve got 10 songs to soundtrack your life. Give us the artist and the songs:
1 Knocking on Heaven’s Door : Bob Dylan
2 About a Girl : Nirvana
3 Tremor Christ : Pearl Jam
4 Ophelia : Natalie Merchant
5 1979 : Smashing Pumpkins
1 Town with no Cheer : Tom Waits
2 Inner City Blues : Rodriguez
3 Alameda : Elliott Smith
4 Fallin’ Rain : Link Wray
5 It’s Alright Ma’ (I’m only bleeding) : Bob Dylan