Sometimes it's nice to just go to a guy's house and look through his stuff
Baxter Dury has lived around Ladbroke Grove all his life, except for when he briefly moved to the small market town of Tring, Hertfordshire, in 2015. “Around Brexit it all got a bit fucking weird and racist,” he says, so he moved back and started renting a small garden flat that he shares with his 14-year-old son, Cosmo.
This is an area of town with a thousand pop culture watersheds; where Hendrix died; where indie labels began; where Carnival resets Kensington and Chelsea’s class divide once a year; where Mick Jagger looked so good in Performance; where punk was born; where Hugh Grant said “Whoops a daisy” as he vaulted a private garden in Notting Hill. “I am inherently part of this place,” Baxter tells me. “I’m jealous of the place where people who look like Kafka live, with their brown parcels and their rubbish bikes. I really am, and I can see that everyone in East London is in a big, sexual, trendy omelette of fun… but I’m not in the omelette. But I have to, by tradition, stay here. I couldn’t leave. I’ve got a stupid name and I’m from this side. It’s buzzing over there, and it’s not here anymore – it’s just pastel jumper’d tourists.”
There is no false pretence with Baxter Dury. He’s fully aware of who he is and his lineage – the son of Blockheads singer Ian Dury and artist Elizabeth “Betty” Rathmell, who met whilst studying at The Royal College of Art, with Peter Blake as their teacher. Blake remains a close family friend, which explains why various pieces of his work hang around Baxter’s flat, with more in storage.
Baxter acknowledges his privilege and is funny with it. He’s funny with everything, including his forthcoming, fifth album, even if ‘Prince of Tears’ is a true heartbreak record. Not mooning, adolescent melancholia; grown up, adult despair and the horror of being alone again. Baxter had a tough summer last year. “I almost flooded my flat with tears,” he says. “I got the Fire Brigade round to put out sandbanks around my emotions.”
He came out the other side with his best collection of songs, where he sing-speaks not unlike his father over basslines made for midnight, traditional disco guitars and strings that placate the dread whilst simultaneously adding to it. Baxter embodies a twatty wideboy who thinks he’s a gangster on standout opener ‘Miami’ and explores depression on ‘Porcelain’ with Rose Elinor Dougall and love’s obsession on the too short ‘Almond Milk’ with Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson. There are smirking one-liners throughout, and the heaviness of love gone wrong. All written here in this modest flat in West London, although it could have easily come from your nearest big, sexual, trendy omelette of fun.