Scottish singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini’s music career began after he dropped out of school at 16. Instead of going into his family’s fish-and-chips business, he worked for the band Speedway, selling T-shirts and picking up the ins and outs of the music industry. With his pop-rock, funk, blues and folk sounds, Nutini signed with Atlantic Records just after turning 18. His first album, These Streets, immediately moved to number three on the UK Album Charts. After releasing his second album, Sunny Side Up, in 2009, Nutini took a break from recording. He made a comeback this year with the album Caustic Love, which debuted at number one in the UK. BBC recently referred to the artist as “arguably Scotland’s biggest musician right now.” The Daily Texan spoke with Nutini about his new album and upcoming performances at Stubb’s BBQ on Thursday and ACL on Friday.
The Daily Texan: How many times have you been to Texas? Do you like the atmosphere in Austin, and is there anything here you are looking forward to experiencing?
Paolo Nutini: I’ve been for South by Southwest and ACL and other shows, so it’s going to be three times now. I’m looking forward to come hang out, go to festivals, get some more Texas tea, just being there and soaking up the atmosphere. I’m excited to play at Stubb’s again and eat some barbecue, drink some beer, smoke some weed, play some music.
DT: What should people expect from your ACL performance?
PN: We just want to play the tunes and let people see what we’re all about. I’ve got some new songs that I have not taken to Texas yet, so I’m looking forward to getting them over there and seeing how the Texans take to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
DT: What are some of your favorite songs to perform?
PN: I like performing most of them. The ones I don’t really like to play are from previous records. I don’t know, they just don’t give me the impulse to sing them anymore. I’ve really just taken to getting new ideas – whether it’s new songs or new approaches. I’m getting new vibes on songs that have been on previous records.
DT: You took a little bit of a break after your Sunny Side Up album. What did you do during that time, and what eventually drew you back into music?
PN: Mainly, I just wanted to take some time to have time on my hands more than anything else. I just wanted to use it for myself. Nothing I was thinking or writing was sounding very good to me, so I just thought there’s no point in me going out and playing this stuff that’s not making me feel like I want to play it. I went to different cities and hung out. I took my guitar and took my notebook and met new people. It all felt very natural to me. I did some exploring.
DT: How would you compare Caustic Love to your previous albums?
PN: It’s not really something I’d like to do to be honest. I think for me to say that one album was better than the other would be very vain of me. It’s just songs – different vibes, different songs. Some of the songs off of the second record, I love to play them now, but I play them differently because there’s so many ways to do songs. Musicians all cover each other’s music. They all play it how it sounds to them, so I think you can do the same thing with your own music. I could play the new album differently, but it would still be the same album and still say the same things.
DT: What songs on the new album did you enjoy making the most?
PN: There are certain songs that I managed to get some musicians playing on them. For the song “Scream,” we had James Gadson on there. You’ve got Janelle Monae on the record. Janelle did amazing. There are just so many musicians and different and great drummers, bass players, brass players and keyboard synthesizers — a lot of different sounds being used. It’s funny because a lot of the things I’m using on the album, like a lot of the drums, a lot of that stuff has been around, some of it since the 70s, some of it since the 80s, but it’s all new to me.
DT: Do you enjoy performing in the U.S., and do you hope to create a larger presence here?
PN: Yeah, I mean sometimes some of the customs officers here can tick you off and make you not want to come in. But coming from where I come from, it’s amazing. You’ve got all these states, and it seems like each one is the size of a country. There’s so much there to go and do. So many venues, so many clubs. They’ve just got all of it. You can play to so many people. There’s so much opportunity here for a band. It’s like the movies. I’ve seen things that remind me of growing up and watching the American culture back home.
DT: Is there anything else you want to add?
PN: Austin, here we come. I’m looking forward to it.