Comeback With Tea And Fats

Source: Good Times

Writer: Philipp Roser

Date: Feb/March 2011

Gilbert O'Sullivan

Comeback With Tea And Fats

"Clair", "Alone Again (Naturally)", "Get Down", "Ooh Baby", "I Wish I Could Cry" - it was an endless string of hits with which Gilbert O'Sullivan beseiged not only the German charts during the Seventies.  Since then the Irish pianist, singer and tune-smith has created excellent pop songs, but in Germany one did not take notice of him for many years.  His last studio album released over here PIANO FOREPLAY was completely ignored, live appearances of the former TV-favourite did not take place.  But now the 64year old is back again. "GILBERTVILLE" is the title of his new record, the songs thereof will be presented by him on stage in the near future.

Why didn't we hear from you here in Germany for such a long time?

It's sad but true – it was for the usual business reasons.  I didn't have a record deal over here – so records will not be released in some countries and just because of that you are not in the focus anymore.  But in the UK, some parts of Europe and Japan I released new CDs almost every 2 and a half years. I never stopped making music.

Tour dates for England have been fixed for 2011, will you appear in our country as well?

The last time I performed in Germany was in the mid 90s, but I will be back more frequently in the future. The first gigs are already fixed – in February I will tour the UK, after that I'll come to Germany.

After so many records that you have made – is it difficult for you to pick songs for a concert?

But that's the nice thing – an artist who has only a few songs cannot perform on stage for 2 and a half hours. I can select from my repertoire going back as far as 1970, I can present album tracks that were not popular but are cherished by my fans. I have to play my hits, of course, and some of the new songs.

You are not fond of the internet – so how do you know which of your songs are the favourites of your fans?

It's true, I don't fancy the internet. Sitting in front of a PC for hours, surfing – I rather use the time to write some good lyrics.  But my brother Kevin, who takes care of my business matters, shows the incoming emails to me.

You are in this business for ages. Your first single "Disappear" was released in 1967.

That's right. To me, it was a kind of apprenticeship. I experienced it myself what it means to sign bad contracts, being unsuccessful. But in the same time it was a good training for the time starting in 1970, when I succeeded for the first time.

How do you write yours songs? Can you illustrate by an example?

When I plan to do an album, I sit at the piano, sketch out 13, 14 melodies - they influence the subject. To my opinion, for ballads jolly or humorous lyrics do not fit. So these come out as a love song or a thoughtful one.  Sometimes I sit for days and do not have any idea; on other days I write 10, maybe 12 verses instead of the necessary 4 ones.  It's a hard thing to decide which one to kick out – so with two previous albums I printed those lyrics that were left out in the booklet as well.

"All They Wanted To Say" has affecting lyrics – you sing about ...terror, faith, values.....

Some of my inspirations come from newspapers or TV-news and I like to write about what people are touched by. For instance the terror attacks of 9/11 - but not in an obvious way – more profound.

But there are also humorous tracks like „Where would we be (without tea) - what gave you the idea to write a song about tea?

Those lines came up to my mind some day.  I like to play with words, even if it is not always recognized as well as the sense humour in some of my lyrics. I don't mind, it's good fun.

"Here's Why" bears a likeness to a Fats Domino song.

That is all right. Rick Davies, the later keyboarder of Supertramp, introduced me to the music of Fats Domino.  In the early 60s, I was the drummer in Davies' band "Rick's Blues", so he draw my attention to Fats Domino whom I appreciate as a pianist.  In this song I play on the piano a special riff, which I borrowed from him.  In the past, I have made such kind of songs already. But this time it was even more fun because it came out to be a duet with Hayley Sanderson in the end. She is a singer from Nashville whom I did not know.  She was introduced to me by my recording engineer Jon Kelly.  This is only my second duet ever – before that there was only one with Peggy Lee.

Thanks Felix!