Dave Stewart‘s new solo album, “The Blackbird Diaries,” isn’t out until Aug. 23. But the former Eurythmics member — who’s also busy producing (Stevie Nicks, Joss Stone), starting a new band (the all-star SuperHeavy) and putting together several films — has already started working on its follow-up back at John McBride’s Blackbird Studios in Nashville.
“There are various cities around the world where you land and it’s like, ‘OK, this is a full-on experience musically…very inspirational,” Stewart tells Billboard.com. For “The Blackbird Diaires,” he notes, “I arrived on a Sunday night and we finished on the Friday afternoon, and that was about 15 songs written, recorded and with all great mixes — and I’m actually doing the same thing right now. It feels like I’ve become possessed.” In fact, Stewart had recorded nine songs in just three and a half days at the time of the conversation and has worked on more since.
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“I found a special bond with these players, so I’ve just started regularly playing with them and recording, like I am now,” Stewart says. “It’s such an alien, different world, so when we all got together I just started singing my songs, and for them and it was totally natural that I was the singer and the frontperson and, like, a storyteller. I suppose they’re used to doing that with male country singers, and even though I didn’t make a country music record, it’s not too different from that.”
Don’t expect to hear the new batch of material Stewart is working on for awhile, however. “I won’t bring it out ’til a year from now, because (‘The Blackbird Diaries’) is just coming out, even though I recorded it last August,” he explains Stewart, adding that lining up distribution deals led to a delay in releasing the 12-song set, which includes guest appearances with Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride, Colbie Caillat and the Secret Sisters, as well as a songwriting collaboration with Bob Dylan.
“The Blackbird Diaries,” of course, is one of myriad projects that carry Stewart’s name these days. He produced this year’s albums by Stevie Nicks (“In Your Dreams”) and Joss Stone (“LP1”) and saw his musical adaptation of the movie “Ghost” open on London’s West End in July. And SuperHeavy — his all-star band with Stone, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, A.R. Rahman and Damian Marley — has just released its first single, the reggae flavored “Miracle Worker,” and releases its self-titled debut album on Sept. 20.
“It keeps me out of trouble, but it also leads to new dangers on the exciting horizon,” Stewart says of his packed schedule. “I’ve always been a bit like this, but now I’m more near the front end of it, so I’m more visible. Usually I’m in the background, so it doesn’t seem so ever-present. But actually I feel more comfortable being the person that’s fronting or co-fronting things than I ever did before.”
Stewart says that with SuperHeavy it’s “very good fun” to be in a group again, and since it was started as an experiment rather than a defined band, he’s anxious to see what transpires as the album is released.
“We just weren’t quite sure how people will take the album or even the single,” he explains, “but we started to get a lot of people around us who really like it. So we said we’ll make a video…and I think when you see the video you’ll be able to tell how this band would be great on stage together. We’ve talked about every idea from one-off things to special events to doing a festival, lots of different ways of playing.”
Stewart is also in the midst of finishing work on a film he made in conjunction with “The Blackbird Diaries” — not a formal documentary but a feature film that he describes as “kind of a trip inside my head as a songwriter and how I function creatively. It’s slightly strange, slightly surreal and impressionistic” and will feature appearances by Stone and Diane Birch. Stewart says he’s also working on films about his projects with Nicks, Stone and SuperHeavy, and he’s having conversations with independent film distributors and theaters about how to bring them out.
“I’d like it to be a special evening or something, like ‘Dave Stewart presents…’ ” he says. “Maybe there’s one every month or something, one every two weeks every Monday night. We’re looking at a lot of possibilities for that, which is exciting.”