Peter Godwin

Peter Godwin

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Hello Peter. This sounds strange as it’s mostly the other way around, but your solo career was more successful than the stuff you did with Metro. I guess this must give you a boost, not? Your band Metro was rather obscure. Is there any reason why it always was kind of underground?
My first music that escaped into the world was Metro and so it has a special place in my heart. The first album was released worldwide, including in the US on Sire Records, in Japan, in Germany and in about 40 other countries – and the first single “Criminal World” was a  top ten hit in Europe – so not that obscure really. But the intention of the music was underground (“Metro”? Haha!) in that we made it for ourselves, rather than to follow a fashion or please anyone. Originality, that was the notion. I thought Metro was a strong début artistically and that mattered to me.  40 years later 20 somethings are still discovering those 3 Metro albums. That’s quite satisfying.

Metro surely had a new wave sound, did you feel connected with the scene that was then having its high days?
The first Metro album was written between 1973 and 1976 and released in 1976/77. It was pre-New Wave really. Actually no-one knew what to call it. Nowadays everyone has a different idea of what New Wave means – especially in America – where New Wave is considered to be early 80’s alternative music. But in Britain New Wave was earlier. Anyway Metro was more Nouvelle Vague than New Wave. More Godard meets Godwin. I think actually Metro felt quite alone, not new wave, just new. On that road less travelled. But some people got it.

And then there was this guy named David Bowie who did Criminal World. How did that happen and I guess it made you proud, not? Have you met the legend?
I met David Bowie only once. At The Embassy Nightclub in London. Bianca Jagger introduced us. It was the summer the first Metro album was released. I heard later that David bought the album, because he liked many of the songs on it. When he covered “Criminal World” it was a big surprise. I was a Bowie fan, so the idea that he also liked something of mine was a kind of magic for me. And he chose a song that he’d inspired. Because Criminal World is really a satire on the androgyny that Bowie made fashionable.

After Metro disbanded you went for a solo career. Something new, it’s like a singersongwriter who explores the synth era. How would you describe it yourself?
Just singer-songwriter. The synths were an accident. Partly just looking for new sounds – and in fact the first of my solo records was “Torch Songs For The Heroine” – and that had many instruments on it that weren’t synths. Cimbalom, zither, santoor, electric bass guitar, live drum kit. It was a fusion sound looking for a European atmosphere… 

Especially in Belgium you were popular, how come?
It went well in Belgium yes. But even more so in the US. 80 countries released my music and different tunes were popular in different places at different times. I can’t explain any of it really. Luck, fate, destiny, timing. Dance mixes were part of the story.

Talking about Belgium. You also were involved with Nathalie. That was another side of Peter Godwin. What was the connection between you and her? Many fans are wondering what Nathalie is doing these days. Many you can clear up our minds!
I met Nathalie at the Mirano in Brussels and we clicked. Her manager asked me to write and produce something for her. She was just 15, but I had an idea. That’s how it started. Nathalie’s a photographer now.

Back to your own work. With W-Fest you’re back on Belgian soil. How does it feel?
Looking forward to landing, if Air France don’t strike haha! I have many fond memories of Belgium. It will be wonderful to reconnect with a country that gave me so much support and celebrate that music, some of which was inspired by my travels in the lowlands. Can’t wait!

What can people expect from your gig at W-Fest?
That would be telling. A snapshot of my career at least. Maybe a surprise or two. And a great guitar player called Garbo Dastorg, who’s a talented artist in his own right.

Any act you want to see yourself?
I’m arriving Thursday, so I’ll check out my old mate Midge Ure for sure. Midge produced my first solo single. We first met on a TV show in Germany when I was singing Criminal World and he was with a band called Slik.

What do you prefer on a festival: ice cream, beer or French fries?
Well beer melts in your head not in your hand…

What is your favourite record of all time and please state why.
My favourite is always the next one. Somewhere, someone’s recording it right now…

With who would you want to be alone in an elevator for 8 hours and what would you do then? 
William Shakespeare and Zelda Fitzgerald. Then I’d section myself and write a play.

The last words are yours…..
Come in your thousands and make some noise, I’ll be waiting for you. Let’s share the experience! Back to the future, Friday 17th August, W Festival.

Interview by Didier Becu - Luminous Dash
Copyright photos : Peter Godwin