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Damian Lewis on BBC Radio 2 Blues Show

A Peek Into His Record Collection

by Gingersnap | | June 19, 2023

Damian chatted with Cerys Matthews of The Blues Show on BBC Radio 2, which aired Monday, June 19, 2023. He shared his favorite blues tracks ahead while promoting the release of his debut album Mission Creep. The album is inspired by roots, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and jazz. You can listen to the broadcast here beginning around 15:38. The broadcast is only available for 28 days on BBC Sounds so catch it now!

Cerys asked him if he falls in love with characters he has portrayed like Nick Brody in Homeland and Dick Winters from Band of Brothers or does he completely move on. He answered that it’s about a bit of both because the ending of every job, especially long ones that he’s been lucky enough to be a part of on several occasions, that he’s created a work family with people he’s quite fond of and leaving can be bitter sweet; but as a whole, it’s quite good to move on. He doesn’t so much fall in love with characters he plays, but he defends them – that acting is sort of like advocacy and the audience is his jury, which makes you intellectually rigorous.

“I represent them like a lawyer would represent a plaintiff.”

Cerys then asked Damian if he picks his projects/scripts based on striking characters. Damian replied that he is drawn to complex, morally ambiguous characters because it’s a greater challenge.

“We’re all light and dark, aren’t we? We’re all vanilla and sorted chocolate. Good and bad.”

Cerys then played his song ‘Zaragoza,’ which Damian explained is inspired by a 1990’s road trip he took on his motorbike while busking in France and Spain, with a guitar and a tent on his back, crashing while crossing the Pyrenees one evening. ‘Zaragoza’ was written two years ago, and probably the most bluesy song on the album.

“I’m lookin’ for a start, so this can be the end.”

Cerys also played his song ‘Down on the Bowery’ because she felt “There’s this kind of natural ability to tell a story, to bring the listener into the world you’re conjuring up.”

“This album has a tenderness to it.”

As for songwriting, he only started that recently after lockdown since his pedigree was more about playing cover songs during busking or at wrap parties after a television series or film would end.  As for his band Damian stated,

“The band is just bar none. Brilliant, fantastic, wonderful musicians. They’re all jazz trained and they all play a lot of jazz through the year and I think it gives, sort of a slight jazz accent to some of the songs. It’s a storytelling album. The idea is that it should feel spontaneous…feel like you’re all in the room with us. So let’s try and recreate the sense that maybe just a bunch of us picked up instruments in a bar somewhere and played, and I hope it has that feel.”

When comparing acting with playing music on stage, Damian said,

“Playing music, playing my songs, yes, you are more you than I’ve probably ever been as an actor. You are sort of sublimating  yourself to the role, into the character you are playing. I did always love being on stage. So that’s unquestionably probably the show-off side of me that enjoyed that. I love the mechanics of being on stage. It’s like being an athlete. It’s not dissimilar – in terms of angles, triangles, positions on stage – from playing football, sorry to say it. It’s an entirely immersive experience into the world that you’re in.”

On playing smaller venues, Damian said,

“That’s all conscious. When we started this a year and half ago I just said ‘Let’s do this authentically. Let’s play little venues where we practice and let’s hone our arts and let’s get better as a band.’ Playing live is obviously important to me. That aspect of this whole adventure. I love being in the recording studio; I enjoyed making the record so much, but being out there in front of an audience, just knowing that your music can connect live, I think is particularly powerful.” 

Damian’s acting heroes are Daniel Day Lewis…”is the ultimate transforming actor who sublimates himself to the role,” Jack Lemon…”his wit and his neurosis is always very funny to me,” and Matthew Macfadyen…”has been doing something on Succession which is perfection that I’m just enjoying watching at the moment.”

Damian told Cerys that he listens to music via vinyl on the record player or on digital platforms. He gave listeners a peek into his record collection by sharing these favorite tracks, but claimed “I’ve definitely got albums in my collection that are on the wrong side of rock-n-roll, but I listen to them joyfully.”:

1 Taj Mahal – Statesboro Blues – Damian picked this song because “I’m a sucker for a blues shuffle”
2 Elmore James – Dust My Broom – Damian picked this song because “It’s about the voice. It’s this raspy, incredible, visceral sound that he gets, and I love it.”
3 JJ Cale – Call the Doctor – Damian picked this song because “I discovered JJ Cale when I was 17 and he’s been with me ever since. He is the epitome of cool.”

Damian’s debut album Mission Creep was released June 16, 2023 and can be ordered from several outlets here. Upcoming shows include Union Chapel on July 11 in London and Mercury Lounge NYC on July 19. Additionally, Damian just announced new September/October UK Tour dates here. Don’t miss out, get your tickets now!

‘Mission Creep’ Album – Damian Lewis Music Store (UK) here
‘Mission Creep’ Album – Damian Lewis Music Store (US) here
‘Mission Creep’ Album – Several music services here or Target
‘Down on the Bowery’ – Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and more here
‘Zaragoza’ – Pandora, Tidal, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and more here
‘Makin’ Plans’ – Napster, Pandora, Tidal, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and more here
‘She Comes’ – Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music and iTunes here

Down on the Bowery


Makin’ Plans

She Comes