Catching Up With Doves’ Jimi Goodwin

Music Features

An extended hiatus for a band can spell either the opening of new possibilities for its members or its eventual dissolution. Luckily for fans of the British pop group Doves, their long break falls directly in the former category, especially for its singer/bassist Jimi Goodwin.

The 43-year-old musician has, since his band’s four-year-long lull, busied himself with a variety of projects including The Bird Effect Ensemble, a group that grew out of a commission to create art meant to raise awareness for feathered flyers of all sorts. His efforts of late have culminated in his very first solo album, Odludek, a collection that Goodwin recorded on his own and that allowed him to embrace a variety of styles from the near-Big Beat slammer “Live Like A River” and the calloused folk of “Oh! Whiskey” and “Panic Tree.”

We caught up with Goodwin at his home outside of Manchester, England to discuss the many inspirations that drove Odludek’s creation and the true meaning behind its hard-to-pronounce title.

Paste: You chose the Polish word for “loner” as the title of the new album. Is that a little commentary at the fact that this was a solo record or was there a deeper meaning for that?
Jimi Goodwin: Well, mainly I just love the flow of word. Both those things and then some, really, I mean. Depending on how you get it translated, it’s actually Polish for “misanthrope.” I mean, I have my days, man. I have my moments. [laughs] In my head, it was like this sort of this Black Sabbath-y type, sort of this guy with almost like all his belongings tied up in a sack or something. He’s a hobo. He wanders around from place to place, just doing his own thing and all that. That was really the interesting idea for like the sleeve, just like this weird nod to some little freaky hobo guy. But I just liked the flow. I kind of wanted the whole thing to be called Odludek, but I kind of got talked out of it. Eventually if all goes my way, I want it to sort of morph into that, because I think it’s a cool band name. When I hear my name, it sounds like some boring blues band, you know like sort of Dave Matthews or some shit, you know? The Jimi Goodwin Band doesn’t fill me with any sense of mystery or magic, you know, but hey, that’s my name.

Paste: I had read that you had this idea to make something that had a crazy mix tape kind of feel to it. Was there an inclination to completely throw the playbook out and write stuff that was way different than what anyone would have expected from you?
Goodwin: Very much so, yeah. I really have these fantasies of making this sort of collaborative hip-hop record because I do love that and I do fancy getting guys like Edan and people to do almost OutKast-y songs but songs with spoken bits in them. I put a few feelers out, and people were like, “Oh, you know, such or such has heard this track and he really, really likes it. However he’s dead busy.” It was out of this attitude that I was never going to stop writing just because people weren’t answering my calls. I ended up just getting quite selfish about it. And you know what, this is for me, and I’ll do everything. It couldn’t stop me doing something I had to do, which was to create something new.

Paste: Thinking about some of songs on Oduldek, you said in another interview that the song “Panic Tree” was about how, as you put it, “mad your father was.” Is that something that has affected your creative life in a way?
Goodwin: I don’t know. I can’t disassociate my music from my life because my life is my music. Without sounding corny, they’re one and the same, really. As a kid, my dad really encouraged me to do music, and he took me to see bands like The Clash when I was eight or nine years old, so I was really lucky I got to see live music and bands like that from a very early age. My dad was an incredible, incredible guy, but he was a handful, to put it mildly. He was a handful. Maybe I was doing something that he kind of dreamed of doing, being a working-class guy, but music was very much a passion of his, and he passed it on to me and he let me run on with it. He forged it.

Paste: Did your dad play music as well?
Goodwin: He played guitar a little bit. My family had a lot of Irish music growing up. My uncle’s a great pipe player, and he plays a lot of the sort of legendary—he lives in Ireland most of the time now, and he plays with a lot of the so-called masters of the instrument. He’s kind of known in his own right, really. An amateur player, but a really, really good amateur player.

Paste: Another song on the record that I was interested about was “Man V Dingo.” What was the inspiration behind that one?
Goodwin: That’s a rant poem, really. It was written around the time of the [2011] riots when police killed a kid in London. Although we have gun crime here, it’s nowhere near on the scale that your country does. But he was unarmed, a black kid in Sutton in North London. It sparked a lot of light in certain cities in England, certainly in London, and a lot of cities were inflamed. So the song was about the media and how they twist things, you know, and it was about loads of things really, mainly about greed and ugliness, and also about fashions for new things and shopping and buying things where ultimately nothing’s going to make you any happier than you are. It came out in a big splurge, and I just didn’t really want to edit it. I’ve never really done that before.

Paste: The first single of the record is “Oh, Whiskey.” Is alcohol use something you struggle with or something you think about?
Goodwin: I’ve known alcohol abuse. It’s something I’ve struggled with the last couple of years. It’s that thing about having access to it pretty much 24/7 on tour. And what was once Dutch Courage kind of became a bit too habit-forming for me really. It spooked me out. It spooked me out on numerous occasions. It’s something that I had to address if I’m honest.

Paste: It must feel good to bring that out artistically as well, to vent that a little.
Goodwin: Yeah. You’ve got to name it, and you’ve got to know what you’re fighting. You’ve got to lay it out on the table. It’s nice to actually get something of use out of it.

Paste: Since you are from Manchester, a pretty vaunted music city considering all of the bands that have come out of there, are you able to keep up with the local scene there at all?
Goodwin: When I lived there, I went to gigs four or five times a week for years and years, but I’ve kind of a bit more rural now. It’s a bit harder to be on the scene. But you know, I hear certain things. I saw this band last night, and thought, “Wow! Why haven’t they got a deal?” I’m glad it’s not just turned into a sad, old thing. Change is imperative. It’s essential. When I do go out there’s some great little 300-capacity clubs and bars putting on shows. It’s healthy as hell.

Paste: You’re gearing up to do your first big tour with this new material—your first in some time. Are you nervous at all, or just excited to be on the road again?
Goodwin: Some days I’m daunted by it. Other days, I can’t wait to close the front door and get traveling. Now the band is really starting to sizzle, I’m feeling a lot more confident about it.

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