2011 Vancouver Sun

This interview is posted in 'The Vancouver Sun' on November 22, 2011
by Mike Devlin

The artist now known as Prince remembers glyph fondly
American superstar embarks on 2r of Canada

Prince is set to bring his royal badness to Canada this week for this most in-depth tour of Canada since 2002.

The Welcome 2 Canada trek, a continuation of a North American tour which began nearly one year ago, finds the seven-time Grammy Award winner at his peak in terms of performance. His concerts regularly run close to three hours, with no shortage of notable moments from his band, the New Power Generation.

Fans will be happy to know that his most famous songs will appear in his set-list, from Raspberry Beret and Purple Rain to Let’s Go Crazy and 1999. Longtime supporters will also revel in the news that he’s throwing curveballs, too. Everything from cover songs (The Ohio Players, James Brown) to songs he wrote for Morris Day and The Time (Jungle Love, The Bird, Cool) are in contention at Prince’s concerts at the moment.

He’s even agreeing to select press interviews, something he hasn’t done with regularity in years.

In typical Prince-like fashion, the mystique is still there. Although he would only consent to an e-mail interview (which is reprinted below with Prince-speak intact), the performer who once confounded those outside his orbit proved to be a willing interviewee.

It just might be the dawning of a new age of Prince.

Q: You and your band used to do “hit-and-runs,” where you would stop in cities unannounced or with very little lead time. And you still do after-parties whenever possible. Do these satisfy a specific aspect of your creative self? Appearing on American Idol or the Super Bowl can do wonders for one’s confidence. So can jamming in a club for 300 rabid fans, I suspect.

A: The musicians we surround ourselves with r extremely talented & never cease 2 surprise, so an aftershow gives us all time to stretch out & build on ideas that could never get fully addressed in an arena setting. In other words, we love 2 jam.

Q: It must be difficult to talk about aspects of your music, especially your lyrics, when what you have created is already an expression unto itself. That said, you have continued to talk with the press — yet the reputation exists that you do not. Do you ever feel like you can’t win? Have you ever felt like giving up on the press altogether? And if you did, would you lose an important voice?

A: A journalist knows when they r being genuine & when they r not. The burden is on them 2 engage their audience. Embellishment might accomplish this, but truth is best. 1 well-written article is usually worth 13 bad ones. LOL.

Q: The digital era is full of clear and present danger, especially for artists who subscribe to an Internet-based business model. You have been successful to this point in carving for yourself a path that appears to work on both a financial and artistic level. Are you surprised that others who stand to benefit from a similar moves haven’t followed suit? Is it that difficult to break free from the major label model?

A: Most artists use labels as banks. Any loan, of course, has interest attached to it. New artists 2day would benefit greatly by forming a real union & steering clear of all this. Protecting themselves from the legal piracy that happens within this corrupt system is the greatest advice we can give at this time. 

Q: Each concert of yours is unique unto itself. What makes a Prince concert successful from your standpoint?

A: Everything depends on the audience. A smaller crowd of old school heads like to hear unreleased jams because they already own a lot of stuff on bootleg. As opposed 2 a new crowd that may have never seen us b4 & have then been 1/8besotted 3/8 by a friend 2 take the purple pill.

Q: Live energy is contagious: If the band is having fun, almost always fans will have fun, too. In doing long stretches of dates, like your upcoming Canadian trek, is there a secret to keeping it fresh for yourself and your band?

A: The secret is learning as much material as possible. God has blessed us with the talent & we now have a catalog nearly the length of the book War & Peace. Every concert is different. Those who have been 2 several back 2 back can attest to this fact.

Q: What do you think is your boldest move yet as an artist? What do you feel most proud in terms of the path your career has taken?

A: Probably changing my name 2 an unpronounceable symbol 2 escape a restrictive recording contract. At the time, it was more necessary than bold, from r point of view.

Q: For much of the past decade, the focus has been solely on your music, and not what the press perceived to be unusual behaviour of the past. I feel that people missed out on a period of your career when some amazing music was being made, simply because of the drone of tabloid journalism. Though you don’t like to look in the rear-view mirror, everyone has a regret or two in life. What are yours? Everyone can learn from mistakes. Did you from yours?

A: The rear-view mirror got broken a long time ago. Being baptized as 1 of Jehovah’s Witnesses gave me a center & a release from a past way of life. Not much time 4 reflection anyway, have you seen r guitar player?

Q: Is there a genre or style of music that speaks to you more than another? Music is music, it can be argued. But knowing how much you liked to play Jimi Hendrix or Wilson Pickett or John Lee Hooker in the past (even during sound checks), could it be argued that the music of the ‘60s holds a dear spot in your heart?

A: The 60s and 70s were definitely a golden age 4 r generation. But then it could b stated that the 80s were pretty cool 2. Good music transcends time. We could all name at least 25 songs from every decade. Since the dawn of recorded music, all of it speaks 2 us. That’s why people leave so satisfied after 1 of r shows. We love what we do & we hope they will 2. We hope 2 c u somewhere soon.