Dave Stewart made a name for himself in the shadows. In the Eurythmics, he stayed in the background while Annie Lennox took centre stage.
Together they clocked up sales of more than 75 million records after their formation in 1980, which makes them one of Britain’s biggest-ever groups.
More recently, however, he’s stepped up to the microphone himself with a series of low-key country blues albums.
For 61-year-old Stewart, who was born in Sunderland, the change in scale and sound has been about returning to his spiritual roots in the North East although, as is often the case, it wasn’t until he was thousands of miles from his home town that the process came about.
“It was Nashville that brought me back around to remembering what I used to do,” he says, sitting in the corner of the bar of a London member’s club he owns.
“When I was a teenager, I used to write songs on an acoustic guitar, and then go to play them in a folk club to try them out. When I’m in Nashville, it’s a similar thing. I’ll go to what’s called a guitar pull, where everyone sits there and a guitar goes around and everyone plays a song.”
Lucky Numbers is Stewart’s latest album, his third in as many years, and while written and recorded separately to the others, it does share a common sound and theme, particularly with last year’s The Ringmaster General.
Like the previous pair, it was also recorded in Nashville with the same band: local players, all seasoned session musicians with serious connections.
“When I was there in Nashville, there wasn’t this resurgence happening that’s going on now,” Stewart points out, referring to a trend among artists to decamp to Nashville when they want to be taken seriously.
“It was just the serious musicians that were there then. Again, that was like being back in Sunderland when all these great folk singers would pass through and they’d play upstairs at the George and Dragon.”
He’s also working on an 80-minute film to accompany the album in Los Angeles, where he lives with his Dutch photographer wife Anoushka Fisz and their two young daughters. It’s largely autobiographical, about a man who has all the riches he ever dreamed of, only to throw it all away on one wild gamble after getting drunk one night.
Meanwhile, Stewart carries on recording other artists in his LA studio.
“It’s always busy there, people are always dropping in,” he says. “I’ve never been one to control everything, and you eventually enjoy the chaos of things changing on a daily basis.”