Paolo Nutini And The Importance Of Being Rested

"I ended up having a drink with Chris Blackwell in Strawberry Hill, two houses down from where Marley hid," says Paolo Nutini of his vacation to Jamaica, referring to the 1976 assassination attempt on the reggae star's life. "He could tell you first hand stories about these people. I just felt, I didn't really understand why I was there."

- Dara Hakimzadeh
Photos by Sheila Busteed

posted October 1, 2007

Paolo Nutini And The Importance Of Being Rested

     He has four singles near the top of the charts in the United Kingdom. He has shared the stage with the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello. He was recently booked as the opening act for Led Zeppelin's tribute concert for legendary Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun in November. And he's gaining increasing attention in the music industry on both sides of the Atlantic.

     But, at 20 years old, Scottish singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini says what he is embracing most right now is the chance to sit back and consider how his new-found fame has impacted his life.

     "You have to take some time and sit and reflect on what has happened and look at the photos and remember that you're living about 20 people's lives, so enjoy it," says Nutini as he adjusts his sunglasses on a bright, sunny afternoon in the backstage area at the Virgin Festival on Toronto Island.

     "I wouldn't say I'm much of a musician. I'm kind of a hopeful," he says with a smile. "I thought with all the exposure [the record] would do okay but I never anticipated it to do as well.

     "The Arctic Monkeys are floating about with their man Alex Turner, and compared to him I seem like a little bit of a novice. He's very talented and skilled with his words," he continues, revealing his still-intact modest nature. "For young guys doing it like me, he does inspire me a little bit. It's nice to be in the same festival."

     Produced by Ken Nelson, Nutini's debut album, These Streets, is an autobiographical creation that explores such themes as sexual experience ("Rewind"), infidelity ("Alloway Grove") and eroding relationships ("Last Request"). Already certified double platinum in the UK, the album also recently surpassed the 100,000 copies mark in the United States.

     "The record company all of a sudden stepped on the accelerator and the single was going to come out and they pushed it a hell of a lot. I've seen a lot of posters and magazine features," explains Nutini.

     Before traveling to Toronto for the festival, Nutini briefly visited Niagara Falls on route from a tour date in Buffalo, NY. He says he enjoyed seeing the world famous waterfalls but wondered if he enjoyed it as much as a regular tourist.

     "For some people, the pinnacle of their life will be standing in front of Niagara Falls," he says. "And it's strange because you do enjoy it but you start questioning yourself about the way you are: ‘Should that have meant more to me?'

Paolo Nutini feature article

     "Touring is a part of life, but it's not really real life, it's a version of it," he continues. "You're seeing a lot of amazing things but you're seeing them in a very quick succession."

     Taking a break from touring recently, Nutini vacationed in Jamaica and met with one of the country's biggest musical legends (besides Bob, of course).

     "I ended up having a drink with Chris Blackwell in Strawberry Hill, two houses down from where Marley hid," says Nutini referring to the 1976 assassination attempt on the reggae star's life. "He could tell you first hand stories about these people," says Nutini. "I just felt, I didn't really understand why I was there."

     Looking to the future and his next album, Nutini admits a few new songs are already written but says he plans on taking his time to finish it. "Hopefully it won't be too long. Hopefully next year, in March," says Nutini, who adds he might fit in another vacation before going in the studio.

     "I've heard some people say the best way to do it is to go to Amsterdam for two days and get so high that you can't actually remember what you do. I think that's sort of a good way to start," he says laughing. "Mind you, you've got to watch that you don't detach yourself from reality all together."

     Visiting friends and family in Paisley, Scotland, is something else Nutini says he'll do to relieve anxiety. "I can slip right back into that way of life straight away. I've got the right people at home to keep my feet on the ground," he says. His family runs a fish and chip shop in town – a business that was originally supposed to be passed down to him.

     Admittedly disappointed by the postponed tour with Amy Winehouse, the young Scot has advice for musicians, like Winehouse, who are starting to feel a little burnt out.

     "Sometimes you've just got to take a break," says Nutini. "It seems like she's said ‘No, I need time to rest and time to get better.'"

     "I'm glad she took it."