Following up his hugely successful number one album (Revolve, 2013) will be no easy task, but John Newman has always had the air of someone who knows just what he’s doing, happy to take his time and get everything right. A keen Ferrarista and self-confessed ‘car nut’, we caught up with him on the day he passed his professional rally driver’s test.
The Official Ferrari Magazine: How are the rehearsals going?
John Newman: Yeah, very good. We don’t really rehearse much, so it’s been quite nice. We tend to just walk on stage and blag it… We’re just getting ready for the festival season, which is good because we’ve got quite a lot headline stuff coming up. And also getting ready to put the album together.
TOFM: Is the new record all in the bag now?
JN: No, no, no, not at all. [laughs] I wanted to take my time with this one to make sure I get it absolutely right. I think the best things happen when you get yourself in the right head space. I do tend to have all the ideas, but you need people to operate the engines, you know, it’s like a driver needing an engine. [laughs] I need the car.
TOFM: You grew up listening to a lot of classic soul records from the 1960s, has that influenced your new material at all?
JN: Oh yeah. People listen to the radio too much and the music they play on there is last week’s music. Every week there are 10 new tunes released and they all sound so similar, really. And then it’s gone the next week. I really think it’s important to look back and listen to the old stuff. I still listen to Motown, I still listen to old soul records. Anything that’s good.
TOFM: Is it true that you always wanted to be a mechanic?
JN: My dream was always to be a Ferrari Formula One mechanic. A guy told me that he helped make the body shells for Ferrari and when I found out that it wasn’t actually true, it broke my heart. I was working towards getting a job with this guy, I was an apprentice panel beater, and then I thought I could end up working with the F1 team. It just broke my heart. So then I went off to be a musician.
TOFM: When did you first become aware of Ferrari?
JN: Watching F1, but also just from when I was a small kid I was always a car nut. I always remember, I had this paper round and I used to have this recurring dream that I would do the paper round around this little town in a beautiful white Ferrari. Recently I went back to the house I grew up in and parked outside in my white Ferrari California T. An incredible moment.
TOFM: Have you been over to Maranello?
JN: I have, yeah. I had a meal there and then they let me go roaring around the track in an F12berlinetta. I had an incredible time there. Also some very, very good balsamic vinegar. It’s so good!