Taking Poetic Licence; the Worlds of Rock Music and Poetry Collide When the Waterboys Take to the Stage in Cardiff Next Week. Frontman Mike Scott Tells Nathan Bevan Why the Band's New Album Is Inspired by Yeats' Poetry
THE Waterboys are about to return to South Wales with frontman Mike Scott, left, confessing that he's glad to have the band back around him.
Now a six-piece ("with a coterie of others we can draw on when the need arises"), the singer says he has no intention of returning to touring alone, like he did in the mid-'90s with his one-man shows.
"I got bored with the sound of my own guitar and craved having other players around me," he sighs.
"I guess I'm just not one of those guys who thinks every sound they make is divine."
And while many who mistily list Waterboys' hits like The Whole Of The Moon as the soundtrack to their youth might hastily disagree with such self-deprecation, Mike adds that the residents of one former mining village in the Valleys might not be quite so quick to object.
"I've played some great gigs in Wales and recorded in Rockfield Studios (in Monmouth) many times," he says. "But I'll never forget one terrible solo show I endured in Blackwood back in 1995."
Really, what happened? "Oh, there was just hardly anyone in the audience and it proved to be a hell of a slog to get the attention of those who had actually bothered turning up.
"God it was tough, but I think I ended up winning that particular battle eventually," he laughs.
Plenty of rock star lyricists - such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and John Lennon - have been dubbed poets over the years by the fans who've found deep meaning in their songs.
Few though have been brave enough to take the words of one of the world's most famous poets and set them to an all-new collection of songs.
But that's what the singer has done with the band's new album, An Appointment With Mr Yeats, marrying the poetry of William Butler Yeats to his own music in a passionate labour of love some two decades in the making.
"When I was 11, my mother, who's a university English lecturer, took me to a Yeats summer school in Sligo, Ireland, and even then I remember being impressed by the effect his words had on so many people," says the Edinburgh-born 53-year-old.
"And it's to my mum's eternal credit that she never tried to ram Yeats down my throat back then, because it's likely I'd have been turned off him for good if she had.
"She knew that I loved music more than anything and, as someone who values artistry of all kinds, was totally behind the direction I wanted to go in.
"In fact, when I started up my first band as a teenager, she'd often help drive our gear to the gigs, bless her," he laughs.
However, despite being more in love with the punk sounds of The Clash than the world of academia by the time he reached college in the late '70s, Mike felt himself drawn once again towards the great Irish wordsmith he'd been introduced to as a boy. …