These days there must be tremendous pressure on you as a performer because you not only have to write and record the music and to support your record but now you must also make a video. Do you have a problem dealing with that added responsibility?
The concept is fine by me, if you are left alone to do it, as a writer. For me there is only one way the video should be done; the video should be what the writer saw when he wrote the song. And to me there can be nothing else. I'm also quite willing to let a filmmaker to go and make a video of what he sees when he hears the song. That's quite interesting. But also, most record companies don't like that neither.
What about touring? What about playing live in America?
Well for me, you know, I'm quite prepared to make America part of my European tour, if it's put together that way. Things are changing now very rapidly in America for me, because I am now talked to and about by guys like yourself, as a Ry Cooder type of person, as a musician first, as a writer first; someone who plays live with a band, a proper musician. Then we'll talk about success or failure. So that makes me comfortable, I'm quite prepared to be a very successful musician, I'm not prepared to be a rock star. And I have enough people in America who know Chris Rea for that. So I feel a lot more comfortable about the States.
Does it bother you not being that well known in America?
Well, no it doesn't, you see, because it's proof that... If it bothered me I'd know there is something wrong with what I've always said in interviews, but being famous was never a goal of mine. And I'm in a pretty unique position, anyway, the whole thing is a unique situation. I've gotta be one of the only artists in the world who sells an exess of three million copies per album, of which less than 10% are in America. Normally, to sell that amount of albums you've got to sell a hardy amount in the States, and then the rest of the world. With me it's the exact opposite. It's the rest of the world, absolutely everywhere, exept the States.
Tell me about your unconventional touring style
The general rule is three days on and one day off and home, never more than a week away from home. It costs me more money, it's the vintage Ferrari in somebody's showroom that I'll never own because of it, but I think it's a fair price to pay. It's what I want to do. It's important also to it's not a moralistic thing that I do, I'm not trying to be good, to be good to my family, it's actually just desire. I truly do love my wife, and I don't just tell you that I do. And I do wanna see her whenever I can. I know it's become very trendy, in the 80's for a lot of guys in this business to say hey, I'm a normal guy, I've got a family life. I'm one of the few who aren't telling lies about that. So I do actually need to go home.
David Letterman, you've done the David Letterman Show before, I think...
I've actually got a t-shirt which says "So what's the matter with Letterman?" written on it. There's so many people saying "my god, you're doing Letterman? Are you OK? Will you be all right?" Because I don't spend much time in the America, I don't realize this relationship he has with the public and other journalists, for me I think he's a really nice guy (hah!).
And why is it that you need to get the Parmesian cheese in the middle and not on either end? I saw this quote where you were talking about standing on line.. you like to do things very much your own way, you're very specific about that, you're also a food enthusiast. And you said "And I'll stand on line at the deli just so that he'll cut that Parmesian cheese in the middle"
That came from an interview, somebody was saying "well give me an example of why you're not a rock star, like Peter Gabriel or Sting". And I was saying I write my songs from 52nd street, if you like, they're not from the penthouse apartment. And he said give me an example. One of the examples was my motor-racing interests make me do things that I will not allow anybody else to do. So that puts me in the queue waiting for parts with everybody else. It also... my love of cooking puts me in the deli, cos I refuse to let other people buy my Parmesian cheese. Because if I send somebody else to the deli where I live, for Parmesian cheese, they come back and half of it's the outside. And I'm paying good money for this as well, I'm paying £3 per pound for this hard skin, and if I go myself, I can convince him to take it from the centre. And as every good songwriter knows, Parmesian is best from the centre. :-)