"I can do a lot better than my first album" – hmv.com talks to John Newman
As he prepares for a summer full of touring and festivals, we called up soul-pop sensation John Newman to find out how he's intent on cracking America and his plans for the follow-up to his debut album Tribute.
So have you been up to so far this year?
"I've been to America, which brought me a little bit of success over there, and then straight into a UK tour which I've just finished. Lots of touring, which has been tiring, but it feels a bit like it's congratulating the work I've done so far."
Is it winding down a bit?
"No, it's just getting started, I'm back out in America, then to Australia and South Africa, then festivals, then my own UK tour. I'm going to try and make sure I get plenty of songwriting in there too though."
How far along with your songwriting? Can you write on tour?
"Yeah absolutely, I've got a little studio that tours with me which I can set up in hotel rooms. It's not like I'm making a new album on the road, it's coming up with ideas, which I am getting quite far with."
Will any new songs start to make it into your live set?
"It depends, if it's right for the live show then absolutely."
How have you found touring? Now your album's out are you able to play the sets you want to now?
"Yeah I can, but I like excitement, I like people going crazy, I don't want to play anything that people don't know, I'm very particular about my live set, it has to be 110% right."
How have you found touring America?
"It's been wicked, the crowds are crazy over there, back in the UK people are a bit more disinteresting, they're all thinking 'I'll watch this and write about it on my blog', in America they don't care, they let go and really get into it. They're so over-enthusiastic in America, it's great."
How have you found making your way in America? Everything is a lot more codified out there, there are radio stations that just play rock, soul, hip-hop etc…
"I get all sorts turning up at my gigs, I get entire families, teenagers, all sorts. In terms of radio, it's a bit odd, I've had a real mixture of stuff, I guess that's my music though, it sits across so many genres."
How many festivals have you got lined up?
"Loads. It seems to last most of the year, but it really adds to you as a live act and hopefully it'll get more people to come to my tour at the end of the year."
Are you adjusting well to playing bigger venues?
"It's been good, I like to stay ahead of people and get them on their toes. I can really dress up the stage now and put on a proper spectacle. With bigger venues come bigger budgets and I can really put across the ideas I want to."
In an ideal world, when will you start focusing on the new record?
"At the end of this year, but there's plenty there to get us started, it's just a question of when we sit down and put it altogether."
You've obviously been writing songs for a long time, do you have lots of material that didn't make the first record that you can go back to?
"No, I don't think so, you have to question why they didn't make the first album don't you? I've got lots of new ideas to work on and I think I can do a lot better than the first album. If a song didn't make that album, it won't this one."
Are there any collaborations you're eyeing up?
"Absolutely. It's just a question of making it a real collaboration, I don't just want to come in and sing someone else's song, I want to work together properly."
John Newman's debut album Tribute is out now in hmv stores all over the UK. You can also preview it by clicking on the icon on the right hand side of the page.