Rays of light amid the darkness

The interview was scheduled for September 11, at 2.30 p.m. local time. Sure enough, Barry Adamson, that wretched and beguiling artist known as the «dark prince of soundtracks» was at the other end of the line. This Saturday, Adamson and his six-member band, the Barry Adamson Experience, will perform at the capital’s brand-new concert venue, Gagarin 205 (205 Liosion St) – close to the Attiki train and metro station – hot on the heels of a new album release, «The King of Nothing Hill.» After rehearsing both new and older material with his band ahead of the visit, Adamson, who rarely commits himself to the stage, did not hide his enthusiasm about the upcoming gig in Athens. A singer, songwriter, composer of soundtracks and lyricist, this melodic gangster of an artist who hails from Manchester started his musical career back in the late 1970s with the influential local band Magazine before joining Nick Cave’s backing band, the Bad Seeds, in 1984 for a four-album tenure. He departed in 1987 to pursue a solo career which has included soundtracks for films by Derek Jarman («Last of England») and David Lynch («The Lost Highway»). Now, Adamson is on the road to Athens for his first show here as a solo artist. Hello, I’m looking for the King of Nothing Hill. Do you know where I could find him? It’s me. You’ve found him. He’s at the other end of the line. You’ve written all the songs on the new album, and are also credited for the arrangements, production, singing, guitar, bass, and you’ve even designed the album’s cover. Really, is there anything you cannot do? Give me some time to think. The only thing I can’t do is play strings. I feel out of place. How dark is the texture of your music this time? In my lyrics, at least, the color black is predominant. But the overall message I seek to convey is that we should not surrender to pessimism. I may also be addressing people through personal experience. I’ve found myself in difficult circumstances during my life and believe that the easiest solution is to get carried away and surrender. I’d like to believe that, with time, my music’s become more luminous. With every new album I make, I try to add an extra ray of light. In a few days’ time, you’ll be bringing your light to Athens. What else will you be bringing? I’ll try and bring over the atmosphere I experience on a daily basis outside my home, in neighborhoods, on the road, when I open the window and take a look outside. How much does the sound of an album differ from the result on stage? What fascinates me is the fact that a more spontaneous and direct response can be created. For some reason, when you prepare an album, everything is cooked up in the studio. But when you take the stage «naked,» you can become a little more risque. You even have the freedom to make mistakes. I sense scenarios behind the songs. Do you consider yourself both a director and narrator? When I feel the need to say something, I open my mouth to explain a few things. At the concert, I’ll definitely feel the need to share some ideas with the audience, without providing answers. I don’t try to be smart. Following your collaborations with Derek Jarman and David Lynch, have you perhaps become bored with writing music for films by others? Has the time perhaps come for you to begin directing your own films? Yes, definitely. It’s something that interests me greatly. But I haven’t yet finished with music. I think I’ll first try and exhaust this domain. And this point is probably approaching… I’ve grown tired of putting together an album and then presenting it. I’m becoming increasingly sure of myself as a storywriter, I’m acquiring greater confidence in it, and, at the same time, feel an intensifying urge. Autobiographical elements exist in imagery. Doesn’t that frighten you? There’s a rule in film: Only write about what you know. Because anything else may seem alien. So I’m not afraid to put myself under the microscope. I use myself as raw material in order to give life to a certain type of human being. But I also observe others and take note of their actions. I think it’s a part of your job when you’re involved with film. I don’t mind revealing myself, nor is it the time to feel shame. I want to share my experiences as a way of exorcising them. Is there at least one person in the world capable of understanding what’s hidden behind the words – whether you’re telling the truth or lying? Sure. We’re in it together – friends, relatives, associates; and we have a good time. They see me every day, they know me well. My children are the strictest critics. Every now and then they come up to me and say: «Dad, you’re so stupid. You’re crazy, Goddamn crazy.» And they have a point. Do you consider what you do to be a type of psychoanalysis? Absolutely, yes. It’s another rule I learnt in film. From Scorsese’s «Taxi Driver,» as well as Hitchcock. I recently read a book about the element of guilt in film and learnt that one should not overdo it, because he or she will be discovered sooner or later. This [new] record is a study on guilt. There’s also the poetry. «Life is cheap but toilet paper is expensive,» you say. What do you mean by this? I’m referring to values. About all the things we take for granted in life – all the things we should value in a different way. I’m not afraid of falling short of ideas. Discounting the music, however, does frighten me. What else frightens you? What’s your greatest fear? There is nothing that frightens me more than fear itself. I’ve suffered from many phobias in the past. So many that I’d feel a burden on my chest. Eventually, I realized there was nothing there. I could say I’m afraid of spiders and snakes, but the more you let phobias dwell inside you, the more they thrive. A year after the September 11 attacks, could you say that you travel with the same amount of ease as in the past? I travel frequently. The truth is that I haven’t been to America over the past year. I do want to go but feel a little frightened, not because of the terrorists but the color of my skin. What frightens me is how others can judge me. There’s a whole story behind that, especially in America. Something recently happened to a friend and I wouldn’t want to go through the same. But, ultimately, what scares me most is the idea of revenge. I know it’s a huge mountain which we must all climb together, but nobody seems to understand the reasons behind all the things we see on the news each day.