The Dury’s out and the verdict’s in

Baxter Dury
Baxter Dury
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IT’S surely got to be both a blessing and a curse being the offspring of a musical legend.

But Baxter Dury has come a long way from being the kid on the sleeve of father Ian’s classic album New Boots & Panties.

Baxter Dury

Baxter Dury

It may be no surprise the chirpy Buckinghamshire-bred bard followed the musical path, but Baxter – now on his third album – says he pretty much fell into it rather than did it by design.

When asked whether he tried to resist the urge or followed fate to make music, he says: “I didn’t do either. I didn’t do anything. I just tried to grow bonsai trees. I didn’t know what to do.

“Out of my education, total idleness or ambitious adventurousness that led nowhere, the feeling of not being defined by an occupation, started to make me feel hateful so that’s what led me in.

“I just went for something. I had to be something. It was easy on the coatwings of my dad probably to say ‘I make music’ – and then I got better at it.”

And while there might have been vague if inevitable similarities running through the music of Dury senior, who died 11 years ago, and junior, Baxter has found a keen identity of his own, not least on his enchanting Happy Soup album.

“There has to be or it wouldn’t be credible. It wouldn’t be possible for me to succeed if I was trying to copy. No-one would accept it. There’s no room for it.

“There’s no point so it wouldn’t happen, there’s not a chance of it. And I know it’s not happening by the fact I’m surviving; not surviving off his fame but because people genuinely enjoy it. That’s enough for me. It’s that issue done.”

If music was Baxter’s destiny, however, he certainly didn’t take a direct route to it.

For example, his first day job resulted in him causing a fire at the Oxford Street watch shop where he worked.

It’s taken the rest of his journey into adulthood to devise an outlook and sense of humour that, as well as making him intriguing to talk to, fires his lyrics with urban charisma and domestic drama.

While that translated as darkness and romantic disappointments on 2005’s Floor Show, Dury refers to his new record as “seaside psychedelia”.

Those around him may sing of fluff, but Happy Soup narrates everyday tales of dancing on the patio in Marigolds and seedy sex in Portugal with a playfulness and acute character analysis that ensure the missives are anything but mundane.

Current single Trellic – a love song set against an amusing picture of London’s Portobello Road – sends Baxter to Sheffield venue The Harley on Sunday rightly recognising an affinity with one-time resident Jarvis Cocker.

“I’ve got a load of mates in Sheffield.

“When I signed a deal I ended up with a publishing company and they sent me to meet Richard Hawley and we just became good mates.

“I went for a night out in the late ’90s and we became buddies.

“We used to drink in The Washington.

“I love Sheffield – it’s one of my favourite places. It’s got a great vibe and he’s an interesting ambassador for the place.”

The pair met again last month when Baxter opened for the reformed Pulp’s London shows. The links further extend to Baxter having been signed to Rough Trade, who release music for Cocker, and Dury sharing a studio opposite Pulp bassist Steve Mackay.

“There’s connections all over the place,” says Baxter, admitting to a few Jarvis traits. “Candid and wordy, I think there’s a similarity there. Britishness, quirks, weaknesses, that’s what we like.”

Baxter certainly has a way of nailing his observations. They seem to flow with poetic ease but surely take some pondering.

“It just whips out of my head and goes ‘donk’. It’s instant, from the back of your head stuff. But you never know how you think until you put it on paper.

“I know if I’m in a good mood or if I’m oiled the right way I can just spill it out. It’s the editing of that stuff that is the key to being good, to make it sound good.

“You’ve got to be careful if you do pour it out like that – you’ve got recognise what’s good.”

While musically Baxter isn’t loyal to one style, there’s often a cheeky or shifty colouring that lifts his lines and almost makes Happy Soup a celebration of the London accent.

“I speak a version, a kind of weird London – a sort of ‘Chiswick but we grew up with taramasalata and oil paintings’ kind of accent.

“These days you can verify yourself as an original Mockney and I think I am one of the original Mockneys. Born under the Chiswick roundabout, not the Bow Bells.

“I’m singing how I talk really and not trying to make a point so much about a regional thing or trying to make it into a hook.

“It’s just me being quite honest.

“Obviously I sound a bit like my dad. There was a template there I suppose. You’ve kind of got an instinct that you just need to follow.

“In a way, being incapable can make you individual, by luck, and I am incapable of doing anything else.

“Really I want to sound like everyone else but I can’t. It’s a desperate effort to sound like everyone else and I don’t.

“It’s an accident, in a way. And then it’s having the confidence to go and do it anyway.

“Once you convince the first person potentially there’s a chain of people might be convinced.

“It’s scary to try to convince the first person.”

But plenty have tucked into this Soup, thus far.

“I expect it’s a bit like taking a very precarious drug doing music; when your down you’re freaking out and when it’s up there’s nothing better.

“There’s emotional highs and lows and this is definitely an up period in the bipolar cycle. We’re in the nice bit.”