Paolo Nutini

‘My relationship with my girlfriend is an addiction!’

Scots-born Paolo has been going from strength to strength musically – and yet still lives in his hometown of Paisley. Here he catches up with No.1 and shares his views on.. everything!

As a young lad in Paisley, Paolo could not have had any idea how his life would
turn out. Although he had been encouraged by teachers who spotted his musical ability, it was a chance encounter that turned his life around.

When fellow Paisley musician David Sneddon was late for his homecoming concert in 2003, 16-year-old Paolo won the opportunity to perform onstage to entertain the audience as they waited. His talent was obvious to all in the crowd, including an audience member who offered to be his manager. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the last four or five years he has became one of the most critically acclaimed Scottish musicians of his time. Managing to combine that with commercial success (his latest album – Sunny Side Up – went to number one in the album charts) is testament to his song writing and performing ability.
He has also managed to succeed where many before him have failed – by enjoying massive success in America. Having just landed back in the UK after a month-long tour of the US, we caught up with Paolo.

Paolo has not exactly hidden the fact that journalists are not his favourite people. In fact he recently had somewhat of a feud with The Sun newspaper, which he went on to write a song about.

With that in mind we approached the interview with a mix of trepidation about Paolo’s attitude towards the press in general and excitement at having the opportunity to speak to such an opinionated and spirited talent!

What is instantly obvious when talking to Paolo is that this is not the usual vanilla popstar that invades the charts or the moody rock star that won’t answer a single thing. Instead he thinks through every question and answers with a beguilingly honest ‘stream of conciousness’ style reply. He is not particularly worried about his image and seems to be formed from the mould of musicians of old – he cares about making good music and pleasing his fans much more than being what society deems a good popstar/role model. This is evident in the fact that he ended up self-producing Sunny Side Up so that he could have more creative control over the output. This resulted in a diverse and eclectic album that no doubt had his record company sweating over whether it was ‘radio friendly’.

After many cancellations and rearranged interview dates we finally managed to pin Paolo down and have a little delve around the mind of budding a musical genius.

So Paolo, you’re a difficult man to get hold of – has it just been non-stop over the last couple of years?
Last time I was home I picked up the mag [No.1] but I’m rarely home. But it’s not so much that it’s been non-stop over the last few years – but certainly this year has been. It’s been a very busy year, which is good in my head – it’s a bonus!

Did you always want to be a musician or were there other things you wanted to do when you were young?
I had many aspirations! I wanted to be in the ThunderCats and I wanted to be Zorro. On a more sensible note I wanted to be an architect and design buildings. I had all kinds of thoughts and notions at some points, but then it was inconsistent at best
like most other things that I do. For some reason I can actually maintain a consistency when it comes to putting on a concert but I can’t seem to do that in any other walk of life.

So the fact that you can be consistently inspired in your music keeps you going?
Yes. Right now while I can stick to this I’m going to do it – I’m going to try! I don’t really interact in this time where everybody is really involved with
the internet: I don’t find myself going on the Myspaces and the Bebos or blogging so I don’t know if the people who come to the shows really realise how much I appreciate them coming and giving me this longer career. Because at the end
of the day I’m just one in a queue. And to get a number one: I’m lucky to even be in it. So it’s cool!

Do you think that you don’t take part in the social network phenomenom because you prefer to meet your fans face-to-face?
I don’t like to put up those walls and stuff because once I get talking to someone it always gets personal. If you’re speaking to someone and giving them the time of day, then why not give the same to someone else? I just try to keep it making sense in my head.I see all the fans at the shows and I get to have a chat with them then – it’s just good fun!

Is the life of a musician living up to how you imagined it would be?
It is and it isn’t. Once you’re in it you live it – you’re always thinking about what’s coming next. Once you’re living it you just want to try and deliver something good to the audience at gigs and get the album out. You’ve got to just keep going, and going,
and going until you feel you deserve it.
 
Most of your songs are pretty personal – what’s it like having people ask you exactly what they mean all the time?
I just write songs and some of them are about myself and some of them aren’t. The words are coming from my mouth and I say ‘aye’ and things but that doesn’t always mean I’m drawing from my own experience – it could be someone else’s.
All my favourite songs, if they were broken down into the exact origin of the lyric, I wouldn’t want to hear what it is. Some of my favourite writers will give four or five explanations about what something means. I like that. I think lyrics are
something you have got to be careful with – if you’re too black and white and literal then your songs can lose a little bit of mystery.

We’ve read your recent single ‘Coming up Easy’ is in part about your love affair with marijuana. Is this something you are happy to talk about openly?
I read that too. I was very surprised that the man had put it the way he had in my biography, I think it was shoddy to be honest. He’s a good writer so it was strange. But yes, it was in my mind. There is this movie that depicts a guy having a domestic with a bag of marijuana – you might have seen it – it’s called Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies. For me, my perspective of that ‘drug’ or whatever it is called, is that I consider it to be a right in a way. To be enjoyed as much as a drink, as much as a cigarette. Anyway that’s a different story.But yeah, I know a lot of people that one minute there are no problems, then the next minute maybe they’ve not got that much work done that week or maybe they have found themselves too happy with the mundane. But then a week after it’s all like, ‘Oh it’s fine, I’ll have a wee smoke’.

So I just drew from that a bit because in theory my relationship with my girlfriend is like an addiction. We spend so much time apart but at the end of the day all we want to do is come home to one another. I think in my head she is one of my addictions – one of the biggest vices that I have ever had. I’m sure that
at points I could do something wrong and then I could get it in the ear but in the end, when it’s all calmed down, I’ll be good.

Do you think your girlfriend back home is one of the main reasons you get homesick rather than missing Paisley itself?
I don’t know – it’s all just part of what home signifies to me for the last six years.

You said recently that there isn’t much to do in Paisley and that it has all gone downhill – that there is a lot of drugs and gambling. Were you hoping your comments would instigate change or were they just throw away comments?
You would hope but it hasn’t really. I just said it because someone asked me the question. That was it, honestly. At the time it wasn’t supposed to be my case for the governor [laughs]. It was just as someone who lives there.

www.paolonutini.com

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