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Friday on my mind
Gavin Friday is among the most artistically ambitious Irish musicians of the past thirty years. With a superb new album, entitled catholic, under his belt, he talks about the death of his father, the breakup of his marriage, the end of the Prunes, working with Naomi Campbell, Courtney Love and Cillian Murphy – and the making of his finest album yet…
Olaf Tyaransen, 12 May 2011
Gavin Friday might be one of Ireland’s most eclectically avant-garde musicians, but the former Virgin Prunes frontman still knows the price of a litre of milk. Roughly, at least.
“How much does a litre of milk cost?” he purrs in his dulcet Marlboro-oaked voice, quizzically echoing Hot Press’s opening question. “Eh... I think it costs a little over €1. Why?”
Just checking to see if you still live in the real world.
The 51-year-old Dubliner laughs indignantly.
“I do my own shopping! I tend to do my shopping in Dun Laoghaire, and since the recession, I’ve rejected the Tescos and I make sure I buy my meat and my veg from small shops. But do I actually look at the price of a litre of milk? No, but I put it into the trolley. I pay for it along with the bread and the fuckin’ whatever. And I know how much the DART is. It’s €2.40 from where I live to get into the city centre. I only get taxis when I’m coming home late at night.”
It’s a midweek midday in April. Just back from a week’s promotional duties in Europe, the shaven-headed, heavily blinged singer looks tired, but is in talkative form. Sharp and articulate, he’s a natural-born interviewee. We’re in a Dublin city centre hotel to discuss his rather excellent new album catholic. Needless to say, the lower case spelling is intentional: “If you look up the word ‘catholic’, the true word with a lower case c, is universal for every man with wide sympathies.”
Although it’s his first long-player since 1995’s Shag Tobacco, Friday hasn’t exactly been resting on his laurels these last 16 years. Indeed, a nine-month period of debilitating illness aside, he’s been busier and more prolific than ever. Looking back over the last decade-and-a-half, he describes it as a period of “Gavin going back to school.” It wasn’t so much that he’d given up on the music business, more that he felt it had given up on him.
“I toured my ass off with Shag Tobacco, more than I ever toured before,” he recalls. “And when I was dropped by Island in late ‘98, I was sensing that something different was happening with the music industry. The word ‘industry’ was becoming bigger than the word ‘music’. Suddenly Tom Waits was being replaced by the Sugababes on Island Records. And I just said, ‘ah, I’m fucking out of here, I’m not comfortable with how things are’. I felt a bit burnt actually. But I still wanted to be in music. So I