“It’s not a break-up album, it’s a road trip album…” - hmv.com talks to Passenger
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, it was standard practice for artists to bang out an album every single year, but those days have long since gone. With touring demands ever increasing, even the most prolific and hard-working of artists average one album every two years, most go three or four.
One artist who bucks that trend is Mike Rosenberg, better known to us all as Passenger. In his 11 years in the business, he’s released a whopping 10 albums! The latest of which, Runaway, is out this week.
We spoke to Rosenberg about his prolific output, why this is an album inspired by America and his plans for another LP in 2019...
You’ve released 10 records in 11 years, can you trace where the songs for Runaway began to come or are you just constantly collecting songs?
“It is bizarre how much I write, I’m lucky in that regard, I can write wherever I am. I spent my life on the road touring and a lot of the songs are written in tour buses and hotel rooms. Pinpointing where this record begins is quite difficult, some of these songs have been around for a few years and haven’t been used. It’s a mix of very new songs and a few of those older ones.”
You did the album with Chris Vallejo, who you’ve worked with a lot, does he just get you better than anyone else?
“It’s really nice, this is our fifth record together. I know some artists love to change it up with every album, they go to a different studio album and get a new band and a new producer. That’s the opposite of how I want to work, the more I work with Chris, the better we are at doing it. We understand each other really well, we’ve learnt so much together and it’s comfortable. It’s my third record with this band too, there’s less explaining, less chat, more playing!”
In the build-up to the album you’ve spoken about the influence of Americana, was that something you consciously wanted to inject into your sound?
“It’s a weird thing. I sat down with all the songs before we went into the studio and I realised that there was a strong American theme to them. There’s a song about Detroit, a song about Yellowstone, a song about my Dad and his parents, he grew up in the States, it’s definitely a thread. I love American artists so it’s always been there, but it has come out even more. We’ve shot all the videos for the album on this American road trip. It’s been good, I’ve liked having a single vision for the album.”
What kind of album is it lyrically? It’s been called a break-up record...
“‘Hell Or High Water’ was written after the end of a relationship and I do feel like every Passenger album has the obligatory break-up song. It’s not a break-up album, it’s a road trip album. The whole album has got that feel, it fits these huge landscapes.”
Is that where the title comes from?
“The title’s a funny one. It’s the opposite of what it sounds like. It’s actually about the fact that for the first time in a long time I don’t feel like I need to run away. I’ve spent the last 10 years constantly touring and haven’t had much reason to stick around anywhere. I’m 34 now and I’ve got a girlfriend and a house and two cats, I don’t want to run away, I like where I’m at. It’s a celebration of that.”
With you producing so much material, how do you work it into your live set?
“It is very tricky and you can’t please everyone. People do get that though and I am considering attempting a medley for this show, a 10-song medley with a song from every album, that’ll make a few people happy.”
How much touring have you got lined up?
“If we get a big song then that might change things, but at the moment I’m booked until the end of November and then it’s to be confirmed. It’s just me on guitar this time, no band, which I’m enjoying. I think we’ll do fewer shows this time and the venues are a bit smaller. I want this run to be intimate and everyone to be really engaged. Sometimes you can ask too much of people in bigger rooms, I’m excited to be back in theatres.”
Finally, we’ve touched on how prolific you are, can we expect another album in 2019?
“There will definitely be another album next year, I’ve already written a load of new songs. There are fewer and fewer rules about albums and we might do something different next time, a more creative release. But more on that nearer the time…”