A bow to Sir Bob

Sir Bob Geldof headed to the region as part of his recent UK tour to promote his latest album: How to compose songs that will sell – his first in 10 years. etc’s Marie Westmoreland caught up with him

Irish singer, songwriter, author and political activist – Sir Bob Geldof has many strings to his bow. But his most recent is becoming grandad to little Astala Dylan Willow Cohen-Geldof.
“He’s a cute little chap. Apparently when changing a boy’s nappy you have to point his willy downwards or else he’ll pee all over you and himself. Now they tell me,” said the Irishman, 60.
Sir Bob was born in Dublin and was the lead singer of punk rock band The Boomtown Rats, who had a series of hits during the ‘70s and ‘80s.
He recently visited Whitley Bay Playhouse and Middlesborough Town Hall as part of his UK tour.

You included a number of North East dates in your UK tour. What do you think of the region?
It was the first place in the UK to give us support, so I’ve always had an affection for it.

Pete Briquette (bassist of The Boomtown Rats) has joined you and your band for the tour. How’s it going?
Pete and I have been playing together since 1975. He produces the records and we co-write sometimes. He managing directs the band, so I can’t imagine what it would be like being on stage and looking round and not seeing the fat dwarf on bass!

How do you feel about performing live – do you ever get nervous?
Of all the things I do in my life this is the ONE thing I love! I think I’m at my most ‘Bob’ when on stage. I get lost in the music. Especially when the band is so good. I’m serious. They are great players. So how could I get nervous?

Out of all The Boomtown Rats songs and your solo recordings – what’s your favourite song and why?
Can’t answer that one. You usually like the more recent things and the ones you haven’t heard for ages and suddenly hear again afresh. And you think ‘God I’m such a genius!’
What do you make of today’s British music scene and what artists do you rate?
There’s a kind of musical groping for something new that isn’t quite succeeding yet. But it will. It always does. Someone out there is writing the songs that sound like being alive now.  I’ve heard a couple of bands recently that I really like. One of course being my son-in-laws’ outfit S.C.U.M. They are genuinely interesting and excellent. Seriously.

Your daughter Pixie is forging her own music career with her band Violet. What do you think of her music and have you been to any of her shows?
Again Pix’s band is doing something new. Her voice is staggeringly good. And we know where that comes from!
Her writing is beautiful and it has been since she was 14.
I’ve been to about six of the shows and it just gets better and better. If people just forget she’s ‘a Geldof’ and let her get on with it, it will be huge. She’s got it.

What advice would you give to a budding musician trying to get a break?
It’s horrible. And worse now than ever. The web has made it more difficult to get noticed than ever. Which was not what was supposed to happen.
Keep going. There’s no such thing as failure. And failure is no success at all. It’s your music, you own it. Somebody, somewhere, sometime will get it. And if they don’t, it’s still your music. Forever.

How did your recent trip to Africa go and what was the purpose of your visit?
Good, thanks. The central purpose was to show people just prior to G8 the success that they helped bring about there. Of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, seven are in Africa. Who’d have thought? Lots of problems still, but one’s associated this time with growth rather than despair.

You’ve had a successful life, seen a lot of the world and had some amazing experiences. What else do you still hope to achieve?
Does it look like that from outside? It never feels like that to me. It’s a weird old life for sure and you don’t know what’s coming next but you just step into the new scene of the next episode and try to negotiate your way through the sopa opera that seems to be life. I’ve always tried to take the road less travelled. That’s where the adventures lie.

What do you hope to be remebered for?

Couldn’t care less. You’re gone. C’est fini.

Marie Westmoreland-Thornhill

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