October 2, 2018 Interview – Alan Clark Talks Dire Straits, Their Legacy, + More
Becoming one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with records sales of over 100 million, Dire Straits have a legacy that stands tall in Rock-n-Roll history. Attaining great success as a guitar driven band in the late ’70s, in the early ’80s the band made an amazing transition seamlessly with big albums including 1985’s Brothers in Arms.
Expanding their sound and trying new things, they made the move to bring in Alan Clark, an accomplished keyboardist who would help lift the band to new heights. The first and only keyboardist ever in Dire Straits, Clark would become known as the band’s unofficial musical director, thus rightfully earning him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame once they were inducted earlier in 2018.
Proud of the work accomplished with Dire Straits, Clark as well as other former members have come together to perform as Dire Straits Legacy (DSL), a new band which brings the classic music of the band to life in concert. Currently embarking on a USA tour, with plans for more international touring thereafter, Clark took the time to chat about his time with Dire Straits, their history, putting together the band Legacy, future plans, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music your entire life, and professionally have worked with everyone from Tina Turner to Eric Clapton, plus many more. First, briefly tell us, what has your musical journey been like?
Alan Clark – It’s bee extremely enjoyable and it still is. Music is just a load of fun, it’s a wonderful thing to do. My life, thus far, I am now 66, has been fantastic!
CrypticRock.com – You have certainly accomplished a lot. Beyond your collaborations with other artists, you became a full-time member of Dire Straits in 1980. An intricate part of the band for 15 years, what was your time in Dire Straits like?
Alan Clark – It was terrific, it was an amazing opportunity to express myself. I joined the band and they were a guitar band, there were no keyboards when I joined; it was a blank page when I came to do whatever I want to do, and that is exactly what I did. Mark and I always got along musically extremely well. It was a very creative period.
CrypticRock.com – You did a lot during that period and helped Dire Straits reach new success and broadened their style.
Alan Clark – Inevitably, bringing keyboards into the band was a calculated move on Mark’s part to expand the palette so to speak. He was finding being restricted to only guitars stifling, he needed to expand his creativity, and keyboards where the perfect thing for that.
CrypticRock.com – They certainly were. Excitingly enough, Dire Straits were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. You were a part of the lineup picked, congratulations! How exciting was that for you?
Alan Clark – It was very good. I have to say when I first heard about it, I thought, that’s nice, but I didn’t really understand how important it is in the U.S. It’s obviously a very big thing in the U.S. and it’s a great honor to be inducted into it.
CrypticRock.com – It is a great honor. You have kept very busy through the years and have revisited the music Dire Straits from time to time. Now you have this new band, Dire Straits Legacy, which features a list of great musicians, including former Dire Straits’ members. What inspired this project?
Alan Clark – Marco Caviglia, the singer/guitarist we have, it all sort of fell together gradually when he invited John Illsley and I to play with him and his band in Italy. We went, played a show with him, and had a lovely time with him; had great food, spent a few days in Rome, etc. We did it again and some other Dire Straits people came – Phil Palmer and Jack Sonni for a little while. It gradually came together, and then we started to get a little more serious. Trevor Horn joined the band and we just do it for the fun, really. Someone recently interviewed Trevor asking, “Why are you playing in a Dire Straits band playing Dire Straits music?” He said, “I don’t know, you have to ask my psychiatrist.” (Laughs) A great answer! Maybe you should ask my psychiatrist why I am doing it too. (Laughs)
We just do it for fun and we have a great time together. It’s a terrific band. Last year, Phil Palmer and I decided, well, we have this terrific band, we should make a record. We did a make a record, we are very pleased with it and the band is under the name Legacy. The idea is, some point in the near future, we will probably drop the name Dire Straits Legacy, and just become Legacy, playing our own music. Who knows what’s going to happen!
CrypticRock.com – Very interesting. The tour with Dire Straits Legacy is on the way and will be running across the USA through October 6th. How excited are you to take this on the road, and what can those coming out expect?
Alan Clark – People can expect to hear all the classic Dire Straits songs played very well by great musicians; played by four of us who had played in the band with Dire Straits. Steve Ferrone from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is on drums, perhaps the best Rock drummer in the world. We also have Trevor Horn on bass. Mel Collins, who played with Dire Straits in the early ’80s, on saxophone. Mel is also a member of King Crimson, so the last few years he has been touring with them. We are lucky to be able to get together in this period and do this. It’s good fun and a good band.
CrypticRock.com – It really is a fantastic band and the shows will be a blast. You also released an album of original material entitled 3 Chord Trick last year. A really great, well-composed collection of songs, what was it like putting this album together?
Alan Clark – It was a load of fun. It was about 90% fun and 10% very hard work, but 90% fun is good. We recorded half the album at Steve Ferrone’s studio in Los Angeles. Then we took the album back to Rome and spent a few weeks building the tracks up. Then we came back to Los Angeles to record more tracks, and did the process again; finished and mixed the album in Rome.
Phil Palmer and I have been writing songs ever since. At the moment, we are writing for a huge Italian Pop star who shall remain nameless. We are writing songs for him and we are going to produce his record at some point in the future. This project opened up a few doors and it makes life more interesting.
CrypticRock.com – Very good. Is there a possibility of mixing some of the new music into the Dire Straits Legacy set?
Alan Clark – We certainly are going to do one of the songs, which is the title-track, “3 Chord Trick.” We might also do the track “Jesus Street.” There are so many Dire Straits songs we have to do that there won’t be much time to do anything else. Also, because we have Trevor in the band, and he was in YES in the early ’80s, he wrote/produced “Owner of a Lonely Heart” – that will be the last song we are going to do in the set.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it will be a very fun show to come out to. Hopefully something will develop out of the Legacy project as well. My last question for you is pertaining to movies. We cover Sci-Fi and Horror films as well. If you are a fan of either genre, do you have any favorites?
Alan Clark – For Science Fiction, it has to be 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). That has to be the best Science Fiction movie ever made. I watch it every so often and it’s as good now as it ever was, which is an amazing thing when you think of how long ago it was made. The music is amazing too! You have to see it more than once to understand it.