Richard Ashcroft: “Not long into your career, you realise that it’s pretty much Spinal Tap”

The solo artist and Verve frontman answers your questions about Brian Wilson, youth clubs and the existence of God

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What did you think of Chris Martin on Extras? Would you appear on a show like that?
Elaine Steed, via email
I thought it was really funny. I’d love to do something with Ricky Gervais. The mad thing is, most of my life, when I’m not in a dark mood, it’s been humour that’s got me through. The only way to get through this business is by laughing. Because you realise not long into your career, that pretty much all of it is Spinal Tap. Once you realise that, you get this amazing sense: you finish the gig and you’re in the dressing room and you’re like, “Where’s Artie Fufkin?” The music, you take it seriously, but the rest of it is just filler.

What is your favourite Coldplay song?
Charles, Ohio
“In My Place” – I think that’s a great, strong song. Good, simple guitar hook. Solid tune. When you see them play it live, it goes across very powerfully. It’s good that you have some influence. It’s great, it’s a compliment. Brian Wilson sang on one of my songs on one of my previous albums – for me you can’t get a bigger accolade than that! Once you’ve met Brian Wilson in a small dressing room, the rest is a piece of piss, to be honest!

When you went to that youth club last year, why didn’t you phone ahead?
Ricky Wilson, Kaiser Chiefs
I’ve been on a trip this year to see what I can do with what I’ve achieved. Can I get music to become more part of the culture? Boredom creates so much pain in this country. And I saw all these kids in this youth centre I walked past, doing lots of stuff, but there wasn’t any music there. And I thought, this is it: guitars and a little recording set-up, things could happen. But I completely understand the fuss. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can’t just walk in off the street. It was stupid of me. And the police turned up and it was ridiculous. It was just an innocent thing. But that’s what I’m trying to think of: to get people writing music, writing their own songs. Not necessarily be part of a fame school, just at a local youth club.

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The Velvet Underground, The Black Crowes, Bunny Wailer, Richard Thompson, Nick Cave, Rhiannon Giddens, Laurie Anderson, Blake Mills, Postcard Records, Mogwai and The Selecter
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