Interview with Peter Bruntnell by Paul McGee

Your new release Retrospective, is a collection that spans almost 15 years of recording. What motivated you to look back at this particular point in your musical career?

The idea for the retrospective was not mine, it was suggested by my new manager and sounded like a good idea at the time.

When you started out as a recording artist, who were your musical influences?

Neil Young, Nick Drake, Tim Harding, Acetone and Uncle Tupelo.

How has your song-writing evolved over the years?

It’s become more English as a result of the realisation that an English/Welsh songwriter will always suffer if they are trying to be Americana. I don’t consider my songs to be Americana even if some journalists or punters do?

You lived in Canada for a period of time as a younger artist. Can you talk about how this influenced your music?

Living in Canada was great, I met a chap called Bill Ritchie, who I write most of my songs with. These days over the phone.

You have steered a path that did not include major recording contracts or major labels in your past and I wonder if this has added to your reputation of being ‘under the radar’, but held in high esteem by many within the industry?

I don’t really know about that, perhaps it has though.  Artists on major labels have bigger marketing budgets so that would obviously help with radio awareness. I can’t listen to the radio, it all stinks, as far as I am concerned.

Would commercial success earlier in your career have altered your world view to any great degree?

Yes, but I’m not sure how though, other than I would have a bigger house, more guitars and my wife wouldn’t give me such a hard time for being a loser piss poor musician?

Eight releases over 15 years are reflected on the current Retrospective release and I wondered if the process of looking back revealed any unexpected insights?

Listening back was interesing and brought back some great memories. I had a great time in the recording studio with the players and the producer Pete Smith.

What does it take to write a complete, fully realised, song in your view?

That depends, some songs happen straight away and others can take a month.

Have you ever had the offer to place your songs in a movie/ TV series?

A song called Ghostdog was in something, I can’t remember right now.

Did you ever tour America to any great degree, given your connections with Son Volt?

I’ve toured a fair bit in America with Son Volt and Jay Farrar solo, also the North Mississipi Allstars.

What is your view on the changes in music distribution today?

Nobody is buying much, so touring is essential. The majors still control the radio and press.

As an essentially independent artist, does the new environment of downloads, YouTube and a return to cottage industry herald a new dawn to you?

The internet is good for gig awareness.

What continues to motivate you to write and perform?

I still love playing live and retain some interest in writing songs. I also like the recording process and have started recording other songwriters in my studio which is something I will probably continue to do.