Mark Knopfler's latest album is all guitars, stories and warmth (2024)

Mark Knopfler usually keeps a low profile in public. Yet, the former Dire Straits frontman never fails to cause a buzz when a live gig or event is on the cards. The same was true in February, when 120 of his guitars were auctioned at Christie’s in London and fetched more than $10 million.

Naturally, Knopfler did not part with all of his precious guitars as many still feature on his brand-new album "One Deep River" and some new guitars as well.

His last album "Down The Road Wherever" was released in 2018, and his last concert was four and a half years ago. Although Knopfler, 74, has been yearning to perform again, he’s in no hurry.

"I'm in a privileged position with the studio and when you own a studio they can't really throw you out," he told dpa in an interview in his British Grove studio in West London.

Knopfler has no shortage of ideas for songs. On the contrary: “I have too many songs, and I had way too many songs. I can't remember how many songs. I can't remember how many songs we recorded. Maybe 25 or 30. I don't know. I really can't remember. But it was certainly too many." About a dozen of those bright ideas turned songs now feature on his tenth album “One Deep River”. And more songs will be released later on an EP.

Knopfler co-produced the LP with Guy Fletcher, his former Dire Straits bandmate and long-time collaborator and friend. "Guy and I can slip in and work and I don't need to have the band sessions. But I have to say the band sessions when I have them...they really are the high point for everybody."

Talking about his studio sessions, the otherwise soft-spoken Knopfler brightens up and his eyes shine: "You do really feel privileged. And you've got the room, you’ve got a man in every corner and it's phenomenal."

Then he stands up all of a sudden and shows off his beloved studio and some of the historic equipment, including an EMI Redd mixing desk like the Beatles once used. He points to the original console that Paul McCartney and Wings once used to record their album "Band On The Run". The tour lasts 10 minutes and Knopfler's passion for music and recording technology is palpable.

Born in Glasgow, Knopfler grew up in Blyth near Newcastle-upon-Tyne which has brought forth music greats like Hank Marvin, Eric Burdon, Sting und AC/DC singer Brian Johnson. The cover of "One Deep River" features the famous arched bridge over the Tyne river.

"I think the feeling of crossing the Tyne has become symbolic to me. I think that the whole idea of leaving provincial England and going to live in London or New York or both, that’s stepping out," says Knopfler, whose childhood as a Geordie - the name for people from Tyneside - has left its mark.

Yet staying was not an option for Knopfler, who now lives in London. "Last night, I saw a couple of friends from Newcastle," he says. "They know every inch of it and every pothole and they’ll never leave. They’re homeboys. And that’s not me."

After such a long time, Knopfler's new music sounds pleasantly familiar. His distinctive guitar playing and warm, gentle baritone voice characteristic of hits like "Sultans Of Swing" or "Brothers In Arms" still resonate. The new songs are light-hearted, almost dulcet and full of melancholy, nostalgia and wanderlust. In "Before My Train Comes" he sings: "That’s my train coming, I can hear the whistle blow'," accompanied by a gentle slide guitar.

In other songs like "Two Pairs Of Hands" and "Ahead Of The Game", Knopfler sings of playing in a band, working in a scrapyard in "Scavenger's Yard" and the 1923 Oregon railway robbery in "Tunnel 13". Knopfler's signature mix of blues, folk, country and rock 'n' roll and a strong Americana influence is audible. The highlights include the ballad "Sweeter Than The Rain" and is reminiscent of the great Johnny Cash.

Knopfler's childhood passion for guitars, sparked by Hank Marvin and his band "The Shadows", is as vibrant as ever. His new album also features brand new instruments. "I found one little guitar in that (Christie’s) lot that ended up being on four or five songs on the new album." Even though he has parted with a considerable part of his huge collection, he will continue collecting guitars.

"The same thing starts happening. It never stops."

Mark Knopfler's latest album is all guitars, stories and warmth (1)

Mark Knopfler's latest album is all guitars, stories and warmth (2024)

FAQs

Is Mark Knopfler working on a new album? ›

MARK KNOPFLER'S NEW ALBUM ONE DEEP RIVER TO BE RELEASED ON APRIL 12, 2024 – Press Releases – Universal Music Canada.

Is Mark Knopfler one of the best guitarists in the world? ›

Described by Classic Rock as a virtuoso, Knopfler is a fingerstyle guitarist and was ranked 27th on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". With Dire Straits, Knopfler sold between 100 million and 120 million records.

Can Mark Knopfler still play guitar? ›

Mark Knopfler says his guitar skills have “deteriorated a little bit” since the pandemic. “If a song wants to be born, then I try to let it happen, but I think the playing has deteriorated a little bit…”

What sort of guitar does Mark Knopfler play? ›

Mark plays his red Schecter, more of Mark's guitars can be seen standing behind him: the sunburst S8001 Schecter, the blue Fernandes, the Gibson Chet Atkins electric-classical, and a red Schecter with a red headstock, a rosewood fingerboard, and golden (I think) hardware that was never seen before, or after.

Why Mark Knopfler is so good? ›

Knopfler's guitar playing style is a very unique style, he doesn't play with a pick like most guitarists do instead he uses his fingers to pluck each string. This creates a different sound than most other guitar players and makes all of Knopfler's work extremely original to him.

Who plays on Mark Knopfler's new album? ›

The band on the new album features Knopfler on guitars, Jim Cox and Guy Fletcher on keyboards, Glenn Worf on bass, Ian Thomas on drums and Danny Cummings on percussion, Richard Bennett on guitar, and newcomer Greg Leisz on pedal and lap steel; Mike McGoldrick provides whistle and uilleann pipes, and John McCusker plays ...

Who is technically the best guitarist ever? ›

Alan Holdsworth. Perhaps the most technically proficient guitar player ever. Alan Holdsworth had an advanced understanding of music, theory, chords, and scales.

Who is arguably the best guitarist of all time? ›

1: Jimi Hendrix

Not only did Jimi Hendrix expand the sonic possibilities of what a guitar could do, but he also found uncharted places that a guitar could take you to.

Is Mark Knopfler self taught guitarist? ›

MARK KNOFLER'S HANDCRAFTED PLAYING STYLE. Stated several times in many interviews and documentaries Mark is a self taught player through and through. While this fact is not particularly unique, it's the style he developed that is the real intriguing part.

Is Mark Knopfler still married? ›

His current wife is Kitty Aldridge, a British actress and writer. They married in 1997 and have two daughters, Isabella and Katya. Benji Knopfler is also a musician, and has played drums in various bands.

How much is Mark Knopfler's guitar worth? ›

The 1959 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard of Knopfler led the sale, selling for £693,000, positioning a new record of world auction for the model. As per the musician, the auction was an impressive journey.

How many guitars does Mark Knopfler have in his collection? ›

The collection, which comprises over 100 guitars and amps from Knopfler's 50-year career, is on show at Christie's auction house ahead of the 31 January sale at London.

Did Mark Knopfler retire? ›

Knopfler never ran away from his legacy. Until he retired from touring, in 2019, he always gave the audience what it wanted and was dutiful about playing their favourite Dire Straits songs. He feels that not doing so would be to fail to uphold his end of the bargain with his fans.

Who is the current lead singer for Dire Straits? ›

Mark Knopfler, Dire Straits' singer and main songwriter and a gifted and influential guitarist, also wrote film scores and participated in numerous side projects. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Why doesn t Mark Knopfler play with a pick? ›

Mark Knopfler

He found the guitar impossible to play unless he used his fingers. “I was doing things with my fingers that I couldn't do with a pick – really fast things and what have you,” Knopfler told Guitar Player.

What are Dire Straits doing now? ›

Dire Straits Experience is currently touring across 6 countries and has 33 upcoming concerts.

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