Beck: My last album won Kanye over

From BBC - October 11, 2017

"Hello, it's Beck..," drawls a Southern Californian voice down the phone from a hotel room somewhere in leafy Kent.

Having shaken off the LA jetlag that threatened to ruin a joyous secret gig near London Bridge on Sunday night, the 47-year-old is on fine form ahead of his appearance on Later... with Jools and happy to look back and laugh about Kanye West interrupting his Grammy award acceptance speech.

The rapper famously stormed the stage in 2015 after Beck's last record, Morning Phase, pipped Beyonce's self-titled compilation to best album, adding later that "Beck needs to respect artistry."

Beck is one of only two singing stars who have suffered at the hands of a Kanye awards bash tantrum, along with Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV VMAs. But that does not mean the three ca not be friends, right?

Beck will be seeing a few more "friends" at a second London gig in Camden on Thursday ahead of the release of follow-up album Colors on Friday.

But before that, he took some time out to talk about Kanye and how completing his "painstaking" new LP was "like finishing a marathon".

And he reveals what it was like touring with the huge but friendly U2 "machine".

That was a great secret show on Sunday, despite you saying the band were all jet-lagged at the start.

Thank you very much, it was a great night. The crowd helped us, we could not have had a better crowd.

You have announced another one for Thursday night. Do you like keeping secrets and pulling surprises?

We were originally just coming here to do some TV and Radio but I insisted on playing. We have not played here in over a year and it just does not feel like we can come here without playing a gig. It's like visiting your friends.

How was the reaction to new stuff?

I was surprised, it was great. They were singing the backing vocals! One of the songs on the new record, there's a part where there are not enough of us in the band to sing the backing vocals and the crowd just starting doing it - it was beautiful.

You covered Gary Numan and The Clash at the gig, plus you perform on the same bill as Robert Plant on the Jools Holland show. Do these classic British artists hold a special place in your heart?

Absolutely. They are so formative, for myself, the people in my band, everyone I grew up with. We were completely influenced by the 60s and 80s waves of British (and Irish) musicians. We even just toured with U2 so that influence is still there.

Tell us about touring with Bono and the guys.

It was a great experience, the audiences could not be more warm. It was interesting because there was a more elevated feeling of people being passionate about being there and wanting to engage with the music.

The band and their crew are incredibly kind, thoughtful, warm and generous and the doors are open and they want to hang out and engage. Everyone is working hard and there's lots of commotion but it's very calm and very friendly. For such a huge machine it was striking how human and open and relaxed it was.

You have had another musical legend MC Hammer signing copies of your new album. He's calling it a 'great party record'.

I think it's great to have him christen the record. We are label mates now. I met him last year at the celebration of the anniversary of Capital Records in Hollywood. It was actually an idea of a friend of mine at the label. There's a scene in Stepbrothers where he gets somebody to sign a samurai sword and he's like, 'Why did you get him to sign the samurai sword?' and he says: 'It's the only thing we had!'

How important is the whole packaging and promotion of the modern album to you?


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