Headliners: Duke Special
Aoife White, Eabha Doherty and Emma Arbuckle interrogate the Duke
Since Headliners last spoke to Peter Wilson, he has achieved an incredible amount on the strength of his debut album Songs from the Deep Forest.
The single 'Freewheel' has become one of the most played songs on UK radio. He was nominated for 3 Meteor Music awards, as well as the prestigious 2007 Choice Music Prize, and famously appeared on the much admired Later with Jools Holland television programme, not to mention a storming homecoming gig in Belfast's Ulster Hall.
I think it's safe to say you've gone from strength to strength over the past year. What have been the highlights since we last met?
Well, I think you've probably named a few of them there, but playing with Van Morrison was amazing.
The Snow Patrol dates were really great, playing to huge crowds in Belfast and Dublin. And doing Later with Jools was absolutely fantastic because it was always a dream of mine. You know, to be on there with The Raconteurs and Amy Winehouse and Muse, it was just fantastic.
What's it like being in the limelight?
It's quite strange and obviously a bit distracting. You can see how people get caught up in the whole thing of celebrity and fame and all that. But that's not what I'm into this for.
Stuff like the Choice Music Awards is really good because you get actual recognition for something you've done, as opposed to just being noticed because you're that bloke off the TV. There's no kind of gratification or fulfillment in that. If somebody really appreciates your music, that's really exciting and really encouraging. But all the other stuff that goes with it, that's not so interesting.
Do you think there might come a time when you could think 'this is all getting too big'?
If I didn't have any time to myself, that would be really annoying. And I think if I wasn't able to follow my own instincts in terms of creativity, or if I was finding that there was a big label trying to interfere with what I'm doing, I would probably try to change the way I would do things.
It's always hard to see what you can cope with or what's right for you. Look at the Snow Patrol guys and what they've achieved. I'm not sure that I could cope with that amount of attention. There's something cool about just doing something which is moderately successful, you know? It gives you just a little bit more creative freedom, perhaps.
Many people are able to relate to your music, but which of your songs would you say is your favourite or most important?
Probably the most important one has been 'Freewheel', because it has become a bit of an anthem and it has opened a few doors.
I'm always proud of the most recent songs I've written because they're like your youngest baby. You want to show everybody. I really like 'No Cover Up' on the record, and there's one called 'Quiet Revolutionaries', which was a B-side, but I really like it.
With the success of Songs From The Deep Forest, do you feel any pressure on you to write for record sales rather than the love of the music?
That's interesting. I would probably feel a bit of pressure to write one that's as good and write some hits. But you can only do what comes out naturally, so I'll see what happens. I have no idea what direction that'll be or how much it'll change.
This album has developed from an EP that I did before. It sounds bigger and probably has less creaks and whirls and stuff, compared to the EP. But I'm very aware that I don't want it to become just gradually bland, because I want to keep an edge to it and make some adventurous choices and decisions. Hopefully that'll keep me in check.
What are your ambitions for 2007?
It's really a bizarre place to be because I've done some of the things I've always wanted to do, I've done. The last five years have been lots and lots of touring, a never ending tour really, to try develope a profile in Ireland and in the UK and to get a record deal. I'm in a place where I have profile and I have a deal.
I'm cool with the live thing, I can do that and I've done it a lot, but I'd love to get really into writing more. I'm about to get a piano for the house. It's really crap and beat up and old, but its cool. I haven't had a piano in the house for years, so it's going to be great to be able to play away at that and begin to write.
Would you ever encourage your children to go into the music industry?
No, I'm hoping they'll become accountants and lawyers and support me handsomely in my old age! Be nice to your children - they're the ones that decide which old peoples home you go into!