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INTERVIEW

Bryan Adams | Das Interview zu "11"

1. Bryan, what made you call the album �11�? Why going for a simple number?

A: I liked the idea of calling the album �11�, because it is my eleventh album of completely original music - outside of unplugged records and live records and soundtrack albums that were obviously part of some other project. And so there is something also about the graphic of looking at the 11 which I really liked as well. And when we were playing with the idea, you know, of what we were gonna call the album, I was working with a designer and I mentioned maybe calling it �11�, he sent me something back, and immediately looked at it and I went: �It looks great.� I really liked that, it�s so simple.

2. And all the associations that come with it, is that something you thought about later � if at all?

A: I haven�t really thought about the other associations that go along with the numerology of eleven. Although I think there is already people that are speculating all over the place. But truthfully from my standpoint there�s no hidden meaning behind it.

3. Balance being the obvious one. Which � by the way - would make perfect sense, or?

A: Well, yeah, you say that balance is one the numerological equations of eleven, but again, you know, I like the balance of the way it looks, and I think it�s a good graphic. And it also has a poignancy in my own career, because it�s my eleventh album so... I mean, my sixteenth album but my eleventh album. (chuckles)

4. What made you work with Robert �Mutt� Lange again? Just because it�s been such a successful collaboration over the years?

A: I work with people on my albums that first of all I really like and I really respect and I have, in this case, a great history with. And if we go back to the very beginning of this album, I started working with Jim Vallance, and Jim and I had many, many records together up until �Waking Up The Neighbors�. And so getting Jim back in the fold was really exciting. And then I started working with Eliot Kennedy again, who I�ve worked with many times starting back in the �Unplugged� days. And then Gretchen Peters, who I started working with on �18 Til I Die�. You know, there�s many, many different people that I�ve worked with, and the reason for this was originally this album was gonna be an acoustic album. And if you listen to the album knowing that now, you�ll notice that the songs are all driven by acoustic guitar. And in the same way perhaps, you know, a lot of songwriters that work with acoustic guitars, you know, one of my favorite examples of this is sort of Pete Townshend from The Who, who always, you know, wrote his songs on the acoustic. And, you know, if you listen to some of those The Who-records they�re always very acoustic driven or they would break down at some point into an acoustic guitar. And it to me it is always really interesting to have that dynamic. And so this album is sort of my first infusion of sort of� It�s sort of an electric/acoustic rock album.

5. Why did you skip the original idea then? Why not going for an acoustic album?

A: Yeah. Well, as I said, this album started out as an acoustic record, but I think somewhere about a year and a half into it, into writing the songs and producing the songs and trying to sequence it, I went on tour in America and thought to myself: �You know what? I don�t really wanna do an acoustic album. I want a rock album. And I want a rock album that has the edge of the acoustic and the subtlety of the acoustic, but still has a lot of power behind it.� And so I went back to the studio and re-recorded a lot of the songs again. There are two songs left on this record that were part of the acoustic album. One of them is �Mysterious Ways�, and the other one is �Walk On By�. And both of them had orchestration added to them, some strings, maybe a bit of instrumentation, but all very, very simple and still driven by the acoustic.

6. So you could rock out on stage?

A: Yeah, I mean, I suppose it all sort of stems back to the first unplugged album we did, which was back in �97, I think. And, you know, to be able to sort of re-look at the way songs were produced, sort of brings you back to how you wrote the songs in the first place. And so just introducing that idea into this album, you know, really worked for me, and I love the way it sounds.

7. As for the lyrics: They�re all about relationships and the imaginary female, so to speak. Leads to the question: Is Bryan Adams still searching or are these just characters and roles he uses for the songs?

A: I think everybody looks for the ideal sort of companion. And there�s always a thirst for that feeling, that someone that�s gonna totally give you the empathy that you need. And so I look for that in my songwriting. I write about it on a lot of the songs, and I think it is a very optimistic album. I think that there�s, you know, there�s always something to look forward to, even �I�ve got nothing� and �I�m going nowhere� and �I need something to believe in�, those ideas are what gets me through my day, you know, that is exactly how I think. You know, sometimes I think: �I�m just getting nowhere with this song, you know, this is not working.� But then I listen to some other music, and I think: �Ah, that really gives me some hope. There�s something else that can make me keep going.� And it�s having an inner drive, you know, to be able to� Well, we�re getting back into production here. Sorry, I�m getting off the channel here. But, you know, lyrically speaking I wanted, you know, I mess around with the ideas of� Well, in some cases there are songs on this album that are about living for today and not being too sensible, you know, basically don�t save things for special occasions, you know. Do things now, because tomorrow may never come, so live your life. And I like that theme. And then there is the theme of something to believe in, which we talked about, then there�s the theme of never giving in, because there are days where nothing seems to be going right, and it�s always a struggle to get what you want. But there�s a positive message in that in that, you know, I�m not gonna give up. I use that theme all the time, I�m always going back to I�m not gonna give up, you know. (laughs)

8. Which is one of the keys to your success? Because that really is stuff everybody can identify with - no matter who he/she is or what he/she is into? Love as the universal theme?

A: You say this is about love, but in fact if you listen carefully and read the lyrics carefully the themes I�ve given you, it�s not just love, it�s not just relationships, it�s about looking for something, it�s striving for something. You know, it isn�t enough just to have this, I need more, I need an affirmation, you know. Like �I Ain�t Losing The Fight�, there might be a theme of romance in there, but the overall theme is not to give up, you know, to keep striving for what you are looking for. And in fact there�s a song called �We Found What We Were Looking For� on the album. The song was written with Trevor Rabin from Yes and Mutt Lange, the three of us wrote the song together. And again another lyric which is I think a very romantic song, but again it�s the idea of looking beyond, we gotta look for this, we gotta find it. It�s out there, you know. And I look for the same thing, so it�s something that is inside of me, I�m sure.

9. So optimism is the message or the central topic?

A: I think the central topic is never to give up. You know, even on songs like �Broken Wings�, another song, you know, when somebody makes you feel like you can do anything. Someone who gives you the faith again, someone who gives you the idea that you can carry on. OK, it�s a bitter request to rely on someone else to do that, I don�t recommend it. But the idea that someone makes you feel like you can fly, it�s great.

10. What about the first single then? Obviously there is someone in there who turns your life upside down, or?

A: Well, I mean, this lyric is such a simple lyric. I thought I�d seen everything, and it�s, you know, based on a theme that, you know, just when you think you�ve experienced everything life has to offer, all of a sudden you see someone or something that turns it all on its head. And just when you think you�ve seen everything, there�s something else around the corner, you know, something like that. I guess, the theme really is to keep an open mind, you�re always learning.

11. Do you sometimes feel you�ve seen it all, done it all? I mean, you�ve been all over the world. You must have more frequent flyer miles than anybody else, or?

A: I say you what: Even if you think you�ve seen everything, you can�t possibly have seen everything, you know. (chuckles) But the song isn�t called �I�ve Seen Everything� it is called �I Thought I�d Seen Everything�, (laughs) which means that there is always something else around the corner.

12. Let�s talk about �Flower Grown Wild�, which is like classic 70s rock. What�s the story behind that?

A: Yeah. I mean, �Flower Grown Wild� is a song which was started by, musically started by Jim Vallance, and then I took a lyric that I�d had for a long time that I wrote with Gretchen Peters and married the two completely separate ideas into one. I think the song, I think about this song in terms of sort of the lost girls that seem to be all over the news, you know. And there seems to be an endless sort of craving from the media to sort of� who I seem to think they�ve lost their conscience, and they�ve lost their sense of decency, you know. It�s an old story about, you know, that we�re having this new love affair with these days with � but devouring sort of celebrity creations. After we�re done sort of ooh-geling them, we sort of dispose of them. And I find it, you know, I find it a bit sad. Yeah.

13. Because we have all the Lindsays, Britneys, and Paris Hiltons dominating the airwaves with their downfalls?

A: There�s always been people in certain walks of life when, and I�ve talked about this before, when they become quite famous, they don�t know how to deal with it. And no one knows how to deal with it, no one knows how to deal, there is no instruction manual for how to deal with fame and fortune. There is no instruction manual on how to deal with celebrity. You only have yourself and whoever you are around to be able to get you through. And so if you�re any kind of addictive character, perhaps you would lean on drugs. And if you didn�t have something as a crutch maybe you become really depressed. And, you know, many people fall into those sort of ruts. And it�s an age-old problem, think back to Michael Jackson or something like that, you know, how he dealt with his fame and fortune, you know, he dealt with it very oddly by sort of mutating himself and recreating himself with plastic surgery. And there�s deep psychological things that happen to people when they�re suddenly faced with being a star and nothing can prepare you for it.

14. And yourself? How do you deal with it?

A: Well, I mean, I had to deal with it in my own way, you know, I became way more reclusive than my management would have liked me to be. And I did no press in the beginning, in fact during the period of the first release of �Waking Up The Neighbors� and the success of �Everything I Do�, I don�t think I did one interview. I just completely stayed away from the press, and I was happy just being with my music. And I often thank my band for being there for me as well, because I always had the crutch of being able to go up on stage and play and go and sing. And I think having that really was amazing, because, you know, it�s like the Rolling Stones album, you know, �Get Your Ya Ya�s Out�. You know, just when you think it�s all getting down on you, when you get back and play, get back to why you started this in the first place, it�s just music, you know, so forget the bullshit and get back to the music, that�s what it�s all about.

15. Well, these days you seem to have a pretty healthy relationship with the press � because you�re simply concentrating on the music?

A: Well, you have to. With songs it�s all about this. I wouldn�t put an album out if I wasn�t happy with the way the music was coming together. And I�m really pleased with this album, it�s completely reflective of me at this particular time in my life.

16. You said you�re very critical when it comes to songwriting. To what extend? Can you be a pain in the ass for people around you?

A: I�ve been involved as a songwriter and a producer, you know, for thirty years now. And being able to, you know, analyze and create and craft records - never been easy. It�s always been quite difficult. I�ve always worked with great people, you know, and so my hat goes off to all the producers and co-producers and engineers and other songwriters I worked with that have all been part of the process of creating the simple song. And, you know, I�ve always strived for a sound, for an energy, for a feeling, a connection that takes a song just from the core of acoustic guitar and vocal into something that is much more special and much more exciting. And it�s a lot of work. And sometimes you get it right away, you can sit down with your band and run the song up and you�ll have a song like �Run To You�, you�ll have an �Open Road� or you�ll have a song which instantly feel right. And then there are songs that take time. You know, for example things like �It�s Only Love�, going back to the �Reckless�-days, where, you know, I�ve recorded that a couple of times to get the energy right on it. Or, you know, I think on when I was working with Mutt on �Waking Up The Neighbors�, we worked on a song and we worked on a song and we worked on a song, and I said: �You know what? I don�t think the chorus is working.� And he put the tracks in record, erased the chorus and said: �Ok, let�s write another chorus.� I think you have to be open-minded when it comes to songwriting, you have to be open-minded and not be precious about it, and to take it literally I�m always looking for how far I can take it. Even if it doesn�t sound like it, even if it sounds so simple, believe me, I thought a lot about it.

17. After 27 years and 60 million records sold: What keeps you going? What gets you up in the morning and write songs?

A: The only thing that gets me up in the morning� the thing that drives me most about making another record is just the music. I�m always writing songs, I�m always messing with ideas, and I love making records, and I love to sing. And so it�s kind of an interesting puzzle, you know. It�s like creating a puzzle that never existed (chuckles), and then putting all these pieces together to try and make them work. It�s like, I don�t know, building a house a without a plan, you know. I can�t think of any other analogies for it. But, you know, I love the idea of creating something from nothing.

18. Is that the adventure that keeps you young? I mean, you�re turning 49 this year, let�s face it.

A: I�m not concerned about age or time or� I�m concerned about that I like to be able to maintain a standard, a really good standard of work, and I love to sing, it�s simple.

19. What about touring? Why is Germany such a stronghold for you?

A: Well, I�ve had a really long love affair working here in Germany. And it starts back in 1983, I was playing in some farm festival somewhere in the south of Germany. And from that moment on I�ve been back here for so many concerts, and I think in some ways I probably know Germany better than most Germans, or certainly been to many more places than most Germans have. And, yeah, they�ve been really loyal to me, they�re a great audience, they�re probably one of the most enthusiastic audiences in the world. They love music and they like going to concerts. Unlike a lot of people, there is a real fascination here about seeing live music, and I love that about it.

20. Two things as we have to come to an end: What�s the idea behind the upcoming �11�-mini-tour that will happen in March?

A: Well, we�re kicking off this album, which is called �11�, by doing eleven songs in eleven cities in eleven countries in eleven days. And that�s probably gonna continue into parts of Asia and parts of America and Canada as well. And it�s really exciting, because I�m doing it by myself, I�m just doing it with my acoustic guitar. So it�s gonna be an acoustic gig, there�s gonna be a couple of new songs from the album and, you know, some songs that everybody knows and loves.

21. Photography: What do you find so interesting about it? And as it has become like a second career for you, what�s going on these days?

A: Well, in Germany I publish a magazine, I�ve started publishing it three years ago, called Zoo Magazine, and it continues to be a really strong, sort of artistic project for me, and I work on it every month to do something for them. And it�s just like an art project. And photography falls into that obviously, because I photograph a lot of interesting people, I meet a lot of interesting people that are subjects for the magazine. And, yeah, outside of music it is probably my biggest love, photography.

22. Could that turn into your main job one day?

A: It�d be tough to beat my day job, you know. It�s gonna be tough.
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Bryan Adams
11

(CD Album - 14.03.2008)

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