Interviewing Peter Wilson, AKA Duke Special is always slightly disconcerting for me.
I first met him around 15 years ago when we both worked at The China Club, a luxurious members only bar based upstairs in a private area of Ten Sq Hotel.
Back then I was a cocktail bartender and he was the piano man and if I’m honest it was Peter’s amazing music that got me through many a long shift at work.
I remember one night he was playing and Bono called in with Andrea Corr. I remember Peter giving me a copy of his CD and I remember listening to Freewheel for the very first time, before the studios got their hands on it – when it was raw and it was just as amazing then as it is now.
Today, he’s exactly the same person. Shy, polite, respectful and humble as well as artistic, creative, charming and enigmatic.
Last month Peter released his latest single Nail On The Head from his fourth studio album Look Out Machines.
Described by some critics as “magically uplifting” and a “sumptuous, symphonic pop anthem” Peter revealed this album takes on a more personal twist than his previous recordings.
He said: “This album is a photograph of where I am right now; it feels like a kind of gathering-in.
“I’m not quite sure how to describe it. What’s the word where you stay in one place to recharge your batteries, and then you’re ready to go again?
“It feels like that; almost like a little launching-pad.”
Even the writing process was different this time for Peter, almost like the beginning of a new chapter in his life.
“The last few things I’ve done, such as Oh Pioneer in 2012 was where I started with the title and then kind of wrote songs based on going into a new place or new country” explained Peter, adding: “Whereas this one, for the first time in a while, I’ve just let the songs come out as they want and then there’s inevitably an over-arching theme.
“It’s probably the first one in a while that people would recognise as a regular album.
“With Nail On The Head the sentiment of the song is the idea that we all, I assume or I’m lucky to have this, is that we have family or friends that at times called me on something in terms of in the middle of all being too busy and talking nonsense and they’re able to say something which cuts to the heart of the matter and sometimes you don’t want to hear it but its invaluable. But equally it could be a book or a song that you’ve seen or read or whatever that just cuts to the place where we need to hear things.”
Look Out Machines featuring Nail On The Head is out now.
Duke Special will play the Mandela Hall on Friday, May 15. Tickets are available from mandelahall.com
Nail On The Head LIVE