High Notes

That British singer-songwriter David Ford is even a musician at all is kind of an anomaly.

David Ford

David Ford

Photo By Pasha Antonov

That British singer-songwriter David Ford is even a musician at all is kind of an anomaly. Neither one of his parents are musically inclined ("My father is clinically tone deaf," he says) and he hasn't had a shred of proper training on his voice or instruments. "I studied drama at university in Manchester," he says. "But I was there less than a year. Drama students are some of the most infuriating individuals I ever had the misfortune to spend any time with. That's not to say that I object to the pretension, but I guess I just like a slightly different brand of pretension from the one that they offered."

On Wednesday, Ford performs at Joe's Pub, including tunes from his latest album "Songs for the Road." His style is often compared to that other British David — Gray — but Ford's subject matter, not to mention song titles (including "Go to Hell" and "Cheer Up (You Miserable F---)" are decidedly more edgy. The singer sat down with WWD, just weeks before his 30th birthday. "I just hope I don't instantly become Phil Collins on the day, lose all my hair, put on some weight."

WWD: So tell me about yourself. You're not that well known in America.

David Ford: I'm not that well known anywhere.

WWD: Have you always wanted to be a musician?

D.F.: I've never particularly wanted to have a career in music. I'm kind of an enthusiast more than, like, a driven career individual. Having a record deal and things doesn't mean a great deal to me at all. It's nice to be able to do that but...

WWD: Who did you listen to growing up?

D.F.: Tom Waits is my favorite artist in the entire world. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Band, Marvin Gaye and Motown records — stuff like that. I think there's a truer spirit to a lot of those records. Nowadays, if I listen to a record, particularly on the radio, I can hear the A&R department, I can hear the marketing people, I can hear a desperate attempt to please radio programmers rather than a song that somebody thinks is going to affect people.
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