Friday, March 12, 2010

"Dont' make me say it out loud, when I can't even write it down" - A Conversation With Anthony Reynolds

First a little detail:
Anthony Reynolds was born in Cardiff, Wales in the early seventies.

In 1993 he moved to London where as part of the Pop group ‘Jack’ he signed a record and music publishing deal.

He has worked as a professional singer/songwriter/performer since, using various names and releasing eight critically acclaimed albums and various singles and EPs to date.
He has lived in London, Paris, Shropshire and Cardiff and has also toured and traveled widely playing most of the major music venues in Europe and the UK, including Paris’ L’Olympia and the Royal festival Hall.

He has collaborated with many European musicians, both as a co-composer and producer and in 2000 sang with the Moscow Philharmonic.

Since 1992, he has also worked as a journalist writing essays and critiques for various magazines in the UK and the U.S. since 1992.

Anthony has also written two full length biographies.

The first, on The 60’s group ‘The Walker brothers’ (to be released on Helter Skelter publishing) and the second on the singer/Songwriter Jeff Buckley (Plexus publishing).

His latest collection of poems, Calling All Demons, penned both in Spanish and English, is available for order here:
In addition, his new EP, "Blues For Bobby Solo" will be available on the 29th of March here:

David Laurent-Pion: What was your earliest experience with the written word, and do you recall a time when something you read moved beyond mere letters and syllables and became potent?

Anthony Reynolds: 126 railway Street, Cardiff. I moved from there when I was almost four. So I would have been between 2 and 4 when I found a Porno magazine in the middle room. The middle room also had a real fire in it. I don't remember much of the graphic content of the mag but I can still see the shape of the words. They were written within a kind of 'cut out silhouette' shape of a naked woman. I remember, clearly, looking at these words and thinking. 'I do not know how to read. But I will soon'.
First stuff I read was comics. Marvel. Silver surfer, Human flame. In direct contrast to the porno, the images were everything for me in these. Words hardly mattered.
I read from as soon as I could but it was science fiction and children's books as such.
Comics were a huge thing for me. I remember reading BATTLE ACTION. In one frame a German WWII pilot had been hit and was plummeting into a forest. (I think the strip was 'Johnny Red'). I remember vividly the jolt I got from the speech bubble coming from this doomed Pilot : 'I am seconds from the next world'.
Kinda makes me laugh now but at the time that little sentence was very powerful.

D.L-P: Leonard Cohen has said that poetry is not an occupation, but a verdict. If we take this literally, it implies a kind of inescapable permanence. I'm wondering if you feel this in terms of your own work. Was there a specific incident, or inspiration when you felt marked by this sentence? What transformed you from reader to writer, and when did you recognize it as something essential to your being? Why?

A.R.: I take what Lenny is saying as this - that one doesn't decide to 'Be a poet'!! but rather the proof of whether one is or not is measured by the work produced and how its received. I don't think many people can be trusted to call themselves by such know..'I am an artist'..'I am Genius'...Dali said both on many occasions and maybe he was. Can't recall Picasso saying either - probably because he was so engaged in being both that he hadn't time for such reflection or pronouncements....
As for me, I don't consider my self a poet. I think I've written some stuff that stands as poetry but mostly its either lyrics or when without music, just words. I consider myself more of a photographer than a Poet. Then again I don't consider myself a musician either and until I did those Syd Barrett shows, did not consider myself a singer.
But what/who decides what is poetry? Last night I read Philip Larkin, Raymond Carver, and Charles Bukowski...the gap between Larkin and Bukowski is wide, less so between both and Carver...
Burroughs said that the test of a writer was that if you were shipwrecked with absolutely no hope of being rescued or anyone ever discovering your work, would you still write? if the answer is 'yes' then you're a writer.
I think the act of writing is very physical. Ive noticed that I enjoy the actual process of reading. I get pleasure from looking at and processing I think there's more to writing, and expression of etc than just a cerebral manifest...
I always wrote stories as a kid , for schoolwork and did comic strips for myself...then lyrics for music when I was 13 on...poetry from a bit later.
I don't question why I need to write. Its not prohibited where I live! But its like letting something run through you, like having water fall out of you, connecting you, linking to there then, here....

D.L-P: Through your years with Jack, from recommending the poems of Rupert Brooke in the liner notes of Pioneer Soundtracks, to the assorted evidence of still later periods, grainy footage of a bookshelf: Cocteau, Bukowski et al there has always been a literary quality to both your own work, and those whose influence, indirect or otherwise, has marked you. Can you tell me about the attraction to these individuals, and are there others whose work has affected you strongly? And can you define what is their appeal for you?

A.R.: I liked Both Cocteau and Bukowski because in some ways they were poles apart. I like it when you love the work of artists who are so consummate unto themselves that its hard to imagine them sharing the world. Sylvian in a room with Elvis Presley, for instance.
I loved the fact that Cocteau did so many different things and his lack of apology for it. His insightfulness and his playfulness. I loved the way he looked too. A picture of Cocteau will reboot me, charge me up, reminds me how big the world is.
...Bukowski - I am and was attracted to his sensitivity and his macho response to that, within a world that tried to trap and exploit him. he was a tender man in cruel circumstances and despite everything he gave into his tenderness and beauty. Many don't, most fail and are crushed.
Im touched by the work of many, too many to go into here. I guess I love the idea that despite appearances, Morrissey, Marvin Gaye and Miles Davis are all coming from the same place. That thrills me. I also feel these people to be my companions. They are so evident- their style- in their work that you can feel their presence in it. And their style is so developed it becomes an art in itself I think. Style and art. What more do we need? Its a start, certainly.

D.L-P: Many artists are figureheads of extremity to the outside world, but it's not often discussed from the creators perspective. We know that Joyce burned his Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man over some nebulous dissatisfaction, that Rimbaud wrote ferociously for a few years and then abandoned writing entirely, that Huysmans actually claims to have been visited by the Devil while writing La Bas, and immediately turned his back on "dark things" to pen the lives of obscure Saints.
Was there ever a time when you felt a repulsion, a sense of hopelessness toward your own work, and how did you find means to continue?

A.R.: Oh yeah...Self disgust can be an important part of growing up, I think...noone, well hardly anyone likes to listen to their own voice in any context...I remember I hated my singing voice around the time of the 3rd album ...but...that can help- it made me think of ways of getting over that and so I brought Dan Fante and other voices in on some of the tracks. I always got a perverse thrill from not singing on my own records actually...
But then , part of real singing involves not making any noise at all. When I saw Nina Simone live, she was singing even when she wasn't. She inhabited the song throughout, the whole concert in fact. That's incredibly hard to achieve...

D.L-P: The few extracts from your next collection 'A call to all demons' which I have seen, seem to possess a certain continental character, a kind of Nerdua-like spirit, simultaneously sad and playful. What informed this collection, emotionally, aesthetically, physically?

A.R.: I'd never make any claim to being a poet. I love poetry, I have friends who are poets and I recognize poetry. but I ain't one. A few months ago I got fucked up with a friend, Christopher Brooke. ..he had a collection of poems out...a book I really love...'and the concept of zero'. It was about places I know intimately and some people too..but also worked on a more formal level, I was properly constructed stuff...well put together around an emotional boiler room...anyway....we were getting fucked up in this little office he has and reading each other our the telling haze of intoxication his ran true. Mine sounded like figments, fragments...trailing off...they weren't I don't have any aspiration to 'being a poet' I love using words, I like the musicality of writing...and I was disappointed with what I heard in that i did make more of an effort with this book..tightened stuff up..made...tried to make them stand alone as in themselves...not just as lyrics...and yes, I did discover Neruda during the writing of the earlier ones..and the Italian poet, Montale too..they blew me away and were perhaps an influence...the unabashed romanticism of the former, in particular...The book covers a rich, painful period of being alive...the end of a long relationship through to being a 'Bachelor' again for the first time in a decade and finding myself a fat drink sodden, coke snorting brute...through some potent encounters up into a realer relationship..albeit does of course, end a while ago..Im into a new phase now, writing poems that i think are the best Ive done...they'll be in the next book..whenever that is...

Anthony Reynolds:

David Laurent-Pion:

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