20 MAR 2016
BY JULES BOYLE
HE’S best known as FBI agent Fox Mulder in The X-Files but David Duchovny is coming to Scotland to show a whole new side of himself – as a musician.
THE New York actor has been learning his trade as a guitarist and songwriter, with the result being his album Hell Or Highwater.
It’s a strong record that is as far away from a vanity project as you will hear, made all the more surprising by the fact that David has only been playing for five years.
He said: “I never picked up the guitar with the idea of writing and recording songs. It was just to amuse myself as I’ve always loved music.
“I decided to learn to play purely for my own entertainment. But I wouldn’t be out there with it if I didn’t think it sounded good. It’s not some kind of fantasy I’m living out. It’s the kind of music I want to listen to.”
The album was released last year, but his commitments in the long-awaited return of The X-Files meant music had to be put on the back burner for a while.
Now, with the series finished following its run on Channel 5, David is looking forward to letting people hear his songs and is excited about bringing them to Europe – and Scotland in particular as his mother is from Aberdeen.
He said: “We recorded it about a year ago, but I’ve been working so much I haven’t been able to tour with it.
“It came about organically from me starting to play music with some friends, Keaton Simons and Colin Lee. They will be playing with me on the tour.
“I’m kind of a beginner singer-songwriter. I’m not very educated or skilled as a musician, so these guys have helped me shape the songs into what you hear now.”
Most musicians learn their trade in obscurity, only finding an audience once they have established themselves.
Being one of the most recognisable faces on TV, there’s a different kind of pressure for David.
He said: “For the most part, I don’t play an instrument on stage although I’m thinking of maybe doing an encore of just me and a guitar when I come to Europe.
“I’ve started taking lessons recently but I’m mostly self-taught, so I can’t really repeat myself that well and every one of my performances is going to be different to another.
“I don’t have any interest in showing people that I’m a good guitarist. I’m
good enough to throw chords together and write songs.
“A lot of my efforts since I recorded the album have been on improving my singing voice, as again that’s something I’ve never done before in my life either.
“I’ve probably worked less on my guitar recently than I would have liked to as I’ve been practising singing every day.
“I’m not a natural vocalist but I’ve been lucky enough to find this guy in New York who has been great in helping me get the best out of the voice I have naturally.”
With so much of his time taken up by his day job, David found a crafty way to work on his guitar skills, by getting Hank Moody – the character
he plays in hit TV series Californication – to start playing. The idea suited the character but also got David lessons.
He said: “Music was a big part of that show and Hank was kind of a rocker without a guitar to start with.
“The creator of the show, Tom Kapinos, is a big music fan, particularly heavy metal, so we always had musicians around or guesting.
“Marilyn Manson and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan were there and Tim Minchin was a guest star for a whole season.
“When I started getting interested in playing guitar, I thought, “Let’s get some free lessons out of this, let’s get Hank playing guitar’. Tom was only too happy to encourage that. It worked out really well.”
As if the acting and music wasn’t enough, David is also about to release his second novel – Bucky F***ing Dent, the follow-up to his 2015 book Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale.
David said: “It’s kind of a father-son story. My first book, Holy Cow, was
pretty untraditional in that it was a fable, whether it was meant for kids or adults or both. I never really got a handle on that to be honest.
“This novel is more of a traditional, straight-up story about adults and life and death. I wouldn’t say it’s not for kids but it’s certainly more aimed at adults.
“It’s different from Holy Cow, not least in that there are no talking animals in it.
“It comes from a screenplay I wrote about 10 years ago that I didn’t have any luck in making, so I thought I’d like to see it as a novel.
“We only have so many stories in our minds to tell so I didn’t want to waste it.
“I had 100 pages of a screenplay. It was a bare bones skeleton that would be fleshed out by actors and visuals, so instead I created the whole world on the page.”
It’s the return of The X-Files that really excited fans though. The hit show came back to TV after a 14-year lay-off and has gained huge ratings all over the world.
Returning to the show that made him famous was a no-brainer for David
but it took a lot of effort to pull together. However, he insists it was worth it.
David said: “There were different stages to coming back to it.
“There were the initial talks and getting my head around the whole idea of doing it again. Then there was showing up on set for the first time and actually doing it.
“Each step of the way was very weighted and complicated in ways that are hard to explain.
“It was always good though as it was the people who had been doing it before who were back again.
“The toughest part was bringing it out, these last couple of months.
“I hadn’t thought about the pressure of it doing well. Weirdly, I just assumed that it would. It was only when people started asking if I was afraid it wouldn’t that the thought occurred that it might not.
“I’m amazed at the loyalty of the fans and really surprised at all the new fans who have got into it.
“The world is much more receptive to this type of show. That wasn’t the case when we first did it.
“In 1993, TV was all medical and police dramas such as NYPD Blue and ER or sitcoms and we were coming out with this scary, conspiracy-fuelled thriller.
“You look around now and the entire entertainment business is just all about comic-book stuff.
“I shouldn’t be surprised that the world is more receptive to what we do now, but I still am.
“Looking back, I wouldn’t have given us much chance to succeed in 1993 and it’s a miracle we did.
“The X-Files was always one of the biggest American exports, much more
so than other big shows of that time. It’s very American. It’s about FBI agents – you can’t get much more American than that – but there was something about the subject matter, that these things happen all over the world, that it could resonate with everyone.
“There are universal themes there, in the human capacity for wonder and interest in the paranormal.”
One thing he wasn’t surprised about was how easy it was to recapture the chemistry with co-star Gillian Anderson. For both of them, it was like they had never been away.
David said: “It was a long time since we did the television show but we had worked together on the last movie in 2007-2008.
“We stay in touch. We’re friends but also have a working relationship that we’ve developed over the past 25 years.
“It’s not sticky that way, so it was really easy to get back into the swing of it.”
The X-Files was always a show that could and would do anything – from the most disturbing horror to flat-out comedy – but with only six episodes to play with this time, they had to be more selective
in their choices.
David added: “It was a challenge to represent the different strands of the show with only a half dozen episodes to play with.
“When you have 24, you can stretch out and do comedic ones, horror ones, silly ones, whatever you like.
“We had to keep it tight this time, so we did three mythology ones, a couple of standalones and one silly one, so it still felt representative.
“It was nice to go back to Vancouver to film and re-connect with so many people we worked with back in 1993.
“It was a very full kind of nostalgic experience for all the actors I think.”
The big question fans want to know, especially as the series ended on the biggest of cliffhangers, is will the show come back again? According to David, it’s only a matter of time.
He said: “It’s always a possibility. It’s just a matter of working out the schedules of Chris, Gillian and myself.
“Gillian has young kids and lives in London. I have mine and live in New York and Chris is doing what he’s doing, so we have to figure out a chunk of time that we can all be in the same place together.”
In the meantime, he can’t wait to bring his music to Scotland.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to coming to Glasgow. I’m half-Scottish so I’m thinking about bringing my kilt. It’s going to be a lot of fun, that’s for sure.”
David Duchovny plays Glasgow’s O2 ABC on May 5. Tickets available from Ticket Scotland and all usual outlets.