Liz Nicholls chats to singer-songwriter and dad Rick Astley, 52, about making his new album and having the best of both worlds
Q: Nice to speak to you. How’s your summer been?
“Fantastic thanks. Lots of touring and pottering in the sun too. We live a stone’s throw from Hampton Court Palace and the other night I was having a glass of rosé in the garden listening to Lionel Richie thinking ‘how wonderful’. I have a little boat – and it really is very little – which I take a couple of mates in to drift off down to the pub – my local is The Albany. There’s something about the river – in the mornings I’ll have a coffee looking at it and if you go off on a boat for even an hour, you feel like you’ve had a day out. It’s a great pace of life.”
Q. How did your new album come about?“
My wife was in America for a couple of weeks and, like any man left alone, I went to my ‘man cave’! Which is a studio at the end of my garden. Before long I’d made some tunes I really liked and thought ‘maybe I’m halfway through another record’. That’s how the last album [2016’s best-selling 50] happened. That one came after a big break from music and I got so much goodwill and love. I don’t kid myself that people are sat there with bated breath waiting for my next album to come out. But we’re on a bit of a roll at the moment.”
Q. Speaking of rolls, what about the ‘rickrolling’ phenomenon?
“It’s freaky and amazing. Years ago when it started, a friend of mine rickrolled me a few of times and I kept saying ‘yeah very funny, whatever’. I didn’t understand the concept, still don’t really! It keeps going and going – and it’s because of that I ended up invited on stage by the Foo Fighters last summer. I‘m a bit obsessed with the show Westworld and was stunned when the lead actress launched into Never Gonna Give You Up. Bring it on!”
Q. Do you love playing live?
“Yes; performing in front of human beings is the most exciting bit. Whether it’s your wife or friend – once you play a song and get a good reaction from someone, that’s amazing. Magnify that by playing in front of hundreds, if not thousands of people, and I do think it’s like a drug. It messes with the chemicals in your body and is a weird feeling – weird in a great way. It’s not like the real world.”
Q. Which other musicians do you love live?
“I’ve seen Adele in front of 500 and 80,000 people and she makes such a connection that it’s like being in her living room with her. I was going to say that’s her skill but it’s natural. I saw Gary Barlow the other day – again at Hampton Court Palace. I know Gary and said hi. When you look at his solo and band career he’s got a helluva set list – he’s worked for that and really works for his audience. Having read his book, I know he’s been through some s****y times and I think that always makes you appreciate what you’ve got more, and give more.”