Interview: Hugh Laurie

2011-09-21 10:53
New York - Hugh Laurie has won a Golden Globe and been nominated for an Emmy for his starring role on House. But those accolades didn't do much to boost the British actor's confidence when he started recording his very first album, Let Them Talk — he says he was "absolutely terrified."

The album is steeped in New Orleans blues, and Laurie sings, plays piano and guitar on classic tunes. Let Them Talk debuted in the United Kingdom at No 2 last spring and was released in the United States this month.

The 52-year-old Laurie talked to AP about the record's success so far and being a Brit playing the blues.

Did the success of your album in England make you feel more confident about releasing it in the United States?

I suppose so, yes, because you worry about your own family, don't you? You worry about what your family thinks before anyone else, and whatever triumphs big or small you might have in the outside world, if your mum says it's rubbish, that's always going to (bother you).

Did you ever consider releasing the album under a different name?

I did once upon a time write a novel and I wrote it under another name and submitted it under another name and wanted to publish it under another name, but was talked out of it by a publisher who actually started banging his head on the desk. ... He said, 'If you knew how hard it is to get people's attention in the publishing world,' and I don't think the musical world is anything different. This is not a world for shrinking violets. ... I want this to be honest. I want it to be open and I want to declare myself and if people want to throw rotten fruit, they can.

What's it like performing it live?

Live music seems to be growing and growing. It's as if people really more than ever seem to hunger for that actual communication. If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd say I'd go to any lengths to avoid the terror of that confrontation. But, I've really got a taste for it now. I'm not saying I know how to do it. I absolutely don't. I've really got a taste for it. I've had a fantastic time.

The album really pays homage to this type of music.

I wasn't born immersed in this music. I've immersed myself throughout my whole life, but that still doesn't really count, you know, when you're having a green card interview; that doesn't really count to say I've listened to a lot of Screamin' Jay Hawkins records — that question didn't come up. But, I'm approaching the source of this music that I've loved all my life and I do so with trepidation and a lot of respect. I hope people will believe and understand I'm not being cavalier about it. This is not a casual thing for me at all. This is more important than almost anything I've ever done.

How will "House" be different without cast member Lisa Edelstein?

It's a huge loss, but at the same time when something like that happens, it actually gives a strange sort of jolt of energy to the thing. When people are forced into that slightly panicky moment of innovation. ... Sometimes (you) get that burst of energy that might take you down an interesting path. I think we have done some very good stuff, I must say, that's really interesting.

Would you like to do more recording?

More recording, more touring, more just sitting in a studio with these musicians and noodling with a guitar. This music thing is hard to beat. If I have the chance, if I'm lucky enough to be given the chance to continue and build on (this), I would seize that with both hands, because that really is a thrilling pleasure for me.

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