‘Interview fatigue, Sir? Might I suggest a dose of Paul Hullah?’ Bob Geldof keeps his eyes open long enough to discuss, with his customary vigour, Live Aid, writing and fame.
leven. twelve, thirteen, fourteen . . . Jaysus, you‘re the fourteenth today. And there’s five more to go.’
It‘s the eve of his first British tour for five years, and Bob Geldof is suffering from interview fatigue. The usually languid, sexy Irish brogue, known the world over, is soundinga little . . .well, impatient shall we say? And it‘s only four in the afternoon. Time for tact. Come on Bob, you used to be a journalist yourself. didn‘t you?
‘Yeah. Before the Boomtown Rats.‘
Well. then, what would you be asking yourself right now?
‘I-luh. There’s nothing I could ask myself that I haven‘t been asked. I‘ve had fifteen years of it. I mean, what the fuck is there left to ask? Same old questions about the records and the music and so on. And I‘m so sick of Live Aid questions— they‘re totally unanswerable at this stage. Best of all is actually playing live again. I reckon I‘d just ask me why that‘s currently the best thing in my life.‘
Okay — why is playing live currently the best thing in your life?
‘Well. it‘s the thing that‘s most natural to me now because for two whole hours I don‘t have to be “Bob Geldof“, which. believe me, is a blessed relief. I just get lost in it. you know. and by the end of a gig I‘m wiped out. physically and psychologically. every which way. It’s such a pleasurable catharsis.‘
So it‘s still a strain, five years on from Live Aid, being ‘Bob Geldof‘?
“It just gets tiresome. Like you, you‘re probably bored with yourself a lot ofthe time, but imagine having to talk about yourselfall the time.’ I‘m so fucking bored with myself. or the version of myself that people expect to find.‘
But you asked for it. Bob. You tried to save the world.
‘Are you kidding?! I never thought that! I didn’t know it was going to last six years. I thought I was in it for three weeks. Okay. I mean, let‘s not get too serious. It doesn‘t press on me all the time, but I‘m never allowed to forget Live Aid. which is fine and I understand that, but ifI have twenty Number One hits. on the day I die they‘ll still be saying, “That‘s the guy who did Live Aid". At least I’ll be dead then. so I won‘t have to care, ha ha!’
The first laugh of the interview, and, for all this ‘fatigue’. Bob’s got plenty to be pleased about. This spring’s oddly titled Vegetarians of Love album — which the tour will showcase — is his ' best-selling work since the Boomtown Rats‘ classic Fine Art ofSurfacing and the ‘six foot two Paddy‘, as he is prone to describe himself, is at
last being taken seriously as a musician again. Cajun in ﬂavour, and full of poignant vignettes on everyday existence, Vegetarians is a curiously attractive piece. Artlessly artful, the record’s sincerely articulated, often humorous moments of gentle introspection would seem to suggest, half a decade on from being exposed as a Saint, that Bob’s actually a bit of a shy boy at heart.
‘Mmm. Well, I do go for walks. I like it when people don’t bother me so much. They can say “hello” and slap me on the back — so long as it’s not a star thing. When it’s a friendly thing, it’s nice. Parts ofthe LP are me and parts aren‘t. They‘re just little stories I make up in my head, partly autobiographical and partly a way of escaping myself. Sometimes it’s me, and sometimes I’m just acting the cunt, or I‘ll be in my Californian mode. It’s just your mind playing little games.‘
With a lyrical style verging on literariness more than once on the album, are we to expect a sequel to Geldof’s surprisingly readable 1986 autobiography, Is That It? A budding novelist in our midst, perchance?
“Oh God no! I wrote that in longhand with a pencil — twelve hours a day for three bloody months. I hated it. It was so tedious. Again, it was me harping on about my bloody self. And I don’t think I could write a non-autobiographical novel. I can make characters live in a song for three minutes, make a small point and then disappear, but I can’t ﬂesh them out with complex human attributes. I‘m a songwriter, not a novelist; that’s what interests me.’
‘I‘ve never had so much fun as on this tour,” he continues. ‘We’ve just got back from Europe, and I‘ve realised that touring is great for me because it puts me into perspective again. It lets people know what I’m doing here and now, today. People come to a show and, h0pefully, say “Oh, so that’s what he does. Fuck me, I’d forgot he played music. And he’s quite good at it!" I do music still because I can do it and I love doing it. Again, that’s why I’m touring with a band and not locked up at home trying to write a novel. God forbid!’
And finally - well, you choose again, Bob.
‘Ask me what people can expect when they come to the shows.’
Okay — what can they expect?
‘A six foot two Paddy jumping around the stage having the time of his life! It‘s a musical autobiography. And it‘s the best bloody thing I'll ever write . . .‘
Bob Geldof plays Strathclyde University Union on Wed 14. He would also like to make it known that non-students are welcome.
The List 9 — 23 November 10907