“All hail rock ‘n’ roll / Why don’t we slip into something more comfortable,” sings rock legend Ian Hunter on on his latest solo album, When I’m President, which has earned rave reviews. We had the pleasure of interviewing Hunter, who’s best known as the frontman for Mott The Hoople, via e-mail recently. Let’s get to it.
Who are your songwriting heroes?
Bob Dylan and Jagger/Richards.
What’s the last song you wrote or started?
I’m not saying — somebody might nick the title!!
Wikipedia says, “David Bowie allegedly wrote ‘All The Young Dudes’ sitting cross-legged on the floor of a room in Regent Street, London, in front of the band’s lead singer, Ian Hunter.” True story? If not, what is?
He didn’t write it sitting on the floor in Regent Street. He’d already recorded it himself, but was dissatisfied with the outcome. When he played it to us (sitting on the floor in Regent Street). I just thought (A) it’s a hit, and (B) I can sing this.
As a child of the ’80s, I was first introduced to “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” by the band Great White. What do you think of that cover today?
Do you perform your most famous songs every time you play live?
Not always – sometimes they need a rest, but they’re good songs, so I don’t have a problem playing them.
What sort of things inspire you to write?
Changes all the time. Read a lot of American history which inspired a few of the songs on WIP.
Do you have any standards for your songs you try to adhere by when choosing them for an album?
Everybody has a quality control – if it gets by me and my co-producer, Andy York, and the Rant Band – it’s a go.
What’s a song on your album you’re particularly proud of and why?
“Ta Shunka Witgo.” I’d dare to call it art.
What’s a lyric or verse from the album you’re a fan of?
“Joker Man” off Infidels – Bob Dylan.
Are there any words you love, or hate?
Who do you consider an underrated songwriter?
Too many to name. There are a lot of overrated ones too!
What do you consider to be the perfect song?
“Like a Rolling Stone” PERFECT. (“Brown Sugar” a close second.)