I got the chance to interview Chris White, an original Dire Straits band member and the man responsible for the saxophone parts that we all love from Dire Straits music. We spent most of the interview laughing, he was a great guy to interview.
I have to laugh while I researching you I found that you started playing the violin then realised that taking music lessons meant time off classes. Well thought of! (both laughing) I am a teacher and I now know why some of my students take music lessons!
That is true actually, I do this little one man show these days where I talk about my career and stuff, violin wasn’t really for me, I could do it but I joined this orchestra and I got a whole day a week of from classes so I kept doing it. (Both laughing)
So you knew when you first held a sax that it was the instrument that you wanted to play?
Honestly yes, in a couple of weeks, yes. That is the truth. I knew that that is what I want to do.
Yeah I guess everyone has that moment and that your moment is about an instrument.
It is pretty special that you are returning here 2 years later after you were here with the Dire Straits Experience, since then you have toured so many countries, met so many people but all those experiences would not have come close to being as awesome as Australia, I am thinking that you agree?
Good to hear! (Both laughing)
One needs to be careful because we have had great experiences elsewhere as well but I love Australia and I remember the first time I went to Australia in 1985/86 I think it was. I was so knocked out about the place I came home and said to my wife “We have to go on and live in Australia.” If I was a nurse I could have come to Australia but as a musician I wasn’t that desirable. So we did not come.
I do hear that a lot from musicians that they want to come and live here.
We have Chris Whitney with us on the tour who actually lived in Australia.
Terence spent some time too?
Yes, he is truly an international bloke. He was born in Mozambique, spent some time in Australia, a lot of time in South Africa and the UK.
I watched a video of you guys that was on your facebook page and I was transported back to my teenage years as soon as the music began to play. Is that what you are finding as you travel the world that people are telling you stories of their lives while they listened to your music?
Some people are yes absolutely. Music often locates memories for people doesn’t it. I remember what was planning when certain things happen and I remember what the hit was of the time when my kids were born and stuff like that. We have stories, like the last time we came to Australia I met people there were at our shows back in 1995 so it was great to see them.
Yeah, but beside them and this is really happening everywhere there is a whole younger crew, late teens or early 20s fans are turning up. I guess it could be due to the Internet I guess it’s what the parents are listening to or even grandparents dare I say!
Yes, I have an 18 and 20-year-old and I love you guys and they have listened to your music through what I play.
(Chris was kind enough to talk to my daughter who had turned 18 that day and wished her a happy birthday. Much appreciated Chris!)
Also with Spotify you can find so much more music that are similar to those songs that you like. I love it when my daughter comes out of the room and says you have to listen to this song! Then I say ahhh that song came out when I was 13.
Yes! My son who is now 23 and also plays the saxophone, a few years back I remember he came in to me and said dad you have to listen to this song! He played me Hotel California!
It was great that they are able to find it. It is amazing that people appreciate it still. I don’t think that Brothers in Arms sounds dated when I listened to it, I think it sounds pretty fresh. Just something about the way it was put together.
Do you stay around after the show to mingle with fans?
We do if we have time, for this tour we are shifting around quite a bit. There is always time after the show to speak to people.
Are you coming along?
Where are you based?
Melbourne. I did not make it last time due to my health but now I am doing better.
Good to hear.
How is touring now compared to back in the 80’s/90s Taking a little more time to recover now you are more mature? Not saying you are old of course! Just more mature. (both laughing)
Jen, in my head I’m still 28, it is just my body that disagrees!
Does it take a little more time? yes I think it does, back in the early days some of our travels were quite luxurious. it is not quite as luxurious now. I remember on that Brothers in Arms tour we played 36 consecutive shows in Europe. it was across 28 cities, we couldn’t do that now would all be dead! even back then at the end of that we were really fried. We took it easy we could not spend all night out in bars, well we try not to! Everyone goes back to the hotel and has a drink and most likely to bed.
Have you go time off here for some sightseeing? How many times have you been to Australia now?
I have been to Australia four or five times. The longest time was with Dire Straits. I was there for three months on The Every Street Tour. So we got to do a lot of stuff back in 1985 I learnt to surf, Jack the guitar back then and I would get up every morning after the show and would jump in our car with our surfboards and go and find some surf. There where some pro-surfers, Tommy Carrol and Rabbit (Wayne Bartholomew) came with us. It was fantastic, we would surf all day, get back to where ever we were and do the show at night. It was just fabulous. This time it is pretty full on so we won’t get much time to look around unfortunately.
Are there any cringe worthy moments of your career as I mean in the 80’s fashion was um quirky to say the least!
(Both laughing) Well there must be loads of cringeworthy moments. I have erased them from my mind!
Self preservation! I remember running across the stage in Sydney once, I think it was the last night in 1986 and tripping and flying through the air I remember thinking what is going to happen here! I landed and then I sat down so it all looked deliberate!
Things like that happen but I can’t really think of any cringeworthy moments.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/77804133″>Dire Straits – Money For Nothing</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user22016409″>Berussa</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
People will want to hear the classics of course but are you considering writing new material?
Not for the Dire Straits experience, lots of us are working on original stuff anyway. Terrence is a prolific writer and he just did a gig recently with some of his own stuff which was really good, I went along to that. So most of us to write, Danny Schogger, who is a writer and producer is. As for The Dire Straits experience is really about the Dire Straits material.
Having Terence join seemed to be an amazing fit. He sounds like Mark. Was that just a bonus or was he chosen because of it?
He was chosen because of it absolutely! This things started when a request was made to put the band together for a charity night in London at the Albert Hall.
Which I didn’t think could be done as Mark Knopfler was not available for it.I really didn’t think that was possible to find somebody who has such a distinctive voice like Mark. We stumble across Terence on the Internet, we got in touch with him and he came on board. I remember the first rehearsal with him, 10 minutes in I just thought this is uncanny. It is just the way his voice is, he’s not trying to imitate, he’s just doing things with the way he sounds. He is a great guitar player.
You recently launched your new website, I really like it, but I noticed there is no merch available on that or on your facebook page, will you be bringing merch with you? Aussies loves our band merch!
Probably not, there was some sold at shows in Israel lately. It is something that we’re looking at maybe we will get some merch over the course of next year. I don’t think will be bringing anything with us this time.It is expensive to fly all that stuff over there.
You have worked with many of the greatest musicians in the world, was there someone that you worked with that you just could not get along with? No names!
There was one difficult occasion in my career yes.
I did leave a recording session once because it didn’t work out. Yes I can’t tell you who that was.
No but were they just to difficult to work with?
Well, it was with somebody that I had worked with before and got on well with but this particular day it just wasn’t working, they didn’t seem to know what they wanted on a particular track and it became very difficult and it was just obvious that they need to get somebody else to do it. I think is some thing is not working and you have done what you can do you just have to say you go find somebody else. It is difficult when people don’t know what they want. Fortunately in my career most people just want me to play so I play. So I had one difficult day over my career which is actually not bad.
Yes I was just thinking that. That is no bad at all.
Within have a chat about being old and how it is better to be old and be alive. We spoke about how 2016 has been an tragic year for artists leaving us and Chris tells me about a friend who only has a few months to live. Very sad.
I asked Chris if he had anything to say to people to encourage them to go to the shows and I think he summed it up perfectly “If you like Dire Straits you are going to hear everything you want to hear!”
Thanks Chris, I enjoyed the chat and all the laughs.
Due to popular demand from Australian fans and following a hugely successful concert tour of UK & Europe the world’s greatest Dire Straits show returns to Australia in October 2016 to perform the incredible catalogue of hit songs.
The Dire Straits Experience features band members Chris White on Saxophone and Chris Whitten on drums supported by 5 world-class musicians who have performed in the bands of artists such as Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison and David Gilmour – they are the best of the best!
It has been more than 35 years since the opening line of Sultans Of Swing was first heard being broadcast around the world.
In the process, it introduced us to a majestic guitar player and songwriter in Mark Knopfler, and to what has become a musical universe unto itself: the music of Dire Straits.
Over 20 years have passed since Dire Straits disbanded, leaving a catalogue of some of the finest compositions and musical performances that the heyday of rock ever produced.
If anything, their reputation has only grown with time. Record sales of more than one hundred and twenty million albums continue to increase as new young fans discover the music and join the band’s massive worldwide following.
“I have been truly amazed and, frankly, humbled by the response we have had from the fans on hearing these songs again. Dire Straits have the most amazingly loyal fan base. It has been so great to reconnect with people I last saw in 1992 and see them still getting so much from this music. Also, it is fantastic to make new friends among the many young people who are now discovering Mark and Dire Straits. So many people still want to experience this live.” – Chris White.
Whilst Mark Knopfler and the band permanently parted ways in 1995, their music has never waned in popularity and continues to be heard on radio across the world. The Dire Straits Experience celebrates this musical legacy.
With the breathtaking skill and showmanship of the original 120-million-selling stadium phenomenon, hear them reignite the greatest hits of Dire Straits including:
Money for Nothing, Walk of Life, So Far Away, Brothers in Arms, Sultans of Swing, Romeo and Juliet, Tunnel of Love, Telegraph Road, Private Investigations, Twisting By the Pool and more.
Featuring a spectacular light show and state of the art sound, this promises to be the most ambitious and best DIRE STRAITS EXPERIENCE show yet.
Wednesday, October 5: State Theatre, Sydney
Tuesday, October 11: QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane
Tix via QPAC
Wednesday, October 12: Palais, Melbourne
Tix via Ticketmaster
Thursday, October 13: Concert Hall, Perth
Friday, October 14: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide
Tix via BASS