Bush Hall in London on December 15th and Gorilla in Manchester on the 20th host two very special shows by David Ford. They are not your run of the mill gigs, neither are they Christmas shows, but the Milk And Cookies gigs are now an unmissable part of the year for anyone who's ever seen or heard David play. He mixes his own material with adventurous cover versions of classics that shouldn't be covered and some that get picked at random from a book of hit singles on the night. We had a chat with David about how this phenomenon came into being and the Reverse Rett charity that will be benefiting from this year's shenanigans.
Hi David. It's nearly Christmas time which means that it's time for Milk And Cookies, your (almost) annual series of charity gigs. Can you tell us how this legendary event came into being?
Yes, in 2001 my friend Omar was raising money for a charity in aid of South American street children and asked if I’d play a small show in our back garden to help. He came up with the idea of serving milk and cookies as some kind of symbol of youthful innocence. Then every subsequent year there seemed to be a good reason to do it all again.
This year's charity is Reverse Rett, for which you are an ambassador. Could you tell us a little about the charity and how you came to be involved?
A couple of years ago, Reverse Rett asked if they could use one of my songs in a fundraising video. At the time I had not heard of Rett Syndrome but as I learned more, I was struck by the incredible cruelty of the condition. Rett Syndrome affects young girls. Around the time of their first birthday, an affected girl’s brain will start to lose the ability to control her body until eventually she becomes unable to walk, talk or use her hands and many Rett girls have problems with eating and breathing. So Reverse Rett is committed to ultimately finding a cure and in the past few years, huge steps have been made that make us optimistic that before long, Rett Syndrome may become something no girl is forced to endure.
Every year you come up with a more outrageous cover - Bat Out Of Hell, Paranoid Android, Toxic, La Vida Loca to name a few as well as a Powerpoint presentation about Lady Gaga - is there anything you consider out of range to cover?
Well my lack of proper musical training forces me to avoid any of the great classical works and pretty much all jazz but in the broad territory of popular music, I would like to think that nothing is off limits. The only thing I try to avoid is the “straight” cover version. There’s no fun for me in covering something by a contemporary singer-songwriter or a modern indie band because often there isn’t enough song to really work with. The pompous, spectacular and unexpected songs are the most enjoyable. When the songs-chosen-at-random section of the night goes well, that’s always pretty exciting.
Do you have a particular favourite of all the songs you've covered?
Not really. I think I am equally embarrassed by them all. The centerpiece outrageously difficult songs are probably the most memorable but almost always go a bit awry. Live and Let Die was fun to work out but was always going to be something of a train-wreck. I think that’s part of the spectacle, seeing how close I can get to pulling it off… or how far.
Is there any spoiler you can reveal about this year's show - or will we just have to wait to see what you've got up your sleeve?
Until I spend a solid week working out the show, everything is still up for grabs. I will be as surprised as anyone by what comes out.
Most years there is a commemorative CD to accompany the event with exclusive tracks - will there be one this year?
There will not. I have a few new songs in the works but I didn’t want to rush them to the finish line. I’m hoping they’ll become a new album for 2016. We will however, be selling this year’s Milk and Cookies T-shirt and after some delay, the 12” LP version of my first album, I Sincerely Apologise for All the Trouble I’ve Caused.
What is in the pipeline for David Ford in 2016?
I’ve learned over the years never to plan too extensively. Events conspire to mess with the best of intentions. At the moment I’m hoping to spend the first few months of 2016 getting some new songs beaten into shape before recording a new album in the USA in the summer. I would expect to be out touring that in the autumn but plans and realities don’t always get along. So I look forward to finding out.
Our feature on I Sincerely Apologise For All The Trouble I've Caused can be found here.
Ticket links for the Milk And Cookies shows can be found below :
More information on Reverse Rett can be found here.
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