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Rockin' the roof of the Hugo Boss HQ (Ziggy Stardust is just out of shot).
Rockin' the roof of the Hugo Boss HQ (Ziggy Stardust is just out of shot).
A duet with my brother at his Yorkshire wedding.
A duet with my brother at his Yorkshire wedding.
Keepin' it real (si thi tha noz) in Yorkshire.
Keepin' it real (si thi tha noz) in Yorkshire.

The duality of fame

I've been off the road with Spacehog now for about a month.

I'm staring at a jobs list at the new cooperative preschool where I enrolled my 2-year-old here in Seattle. The American education system is a maze-like structure, one that I've tried to avoid dealing with for the 21 years that I've lived here. But now I'm having to learn fast!

My 16-year-old, Laila, was educated in England where it's a whole different ball game of streaming, examinations, assessment and terminology.

We just moved here from Brooklyn. While there I would work at the Park Slope Food Coop in daycare; rubbing shoulders with Adrian Grenier in food processing and Maggie Gyllenhaal at the checkout: Funny little microcosm of New York City diversity it was. But a good symbol for the extremes that an artist in the public eye must take on, in the eye of the metropolis.

Personally, I'm not so enamored with all this celebrity BS. I've never understood why one would be so willing to put people in the public eye on a pedestal, just because they play a guitar or act in a movie.

There are notable exceptions, of course: I think I was more than a little timid when Stephen Dorf introduced me to Madonna. And it was a trip telling Bono about a church we were recording in, only for him to respond dryly: "Take the pews out, Jonny, but leave God in."

David Bowie was another legend that proved to be a bit too much to handle. He was at a show I played in New York on the roof of the Hugo Boss HQ in Chelsea, and he proved to be more talkative than I anticipated. Unfortunately my "moment" with Ziggy was ruined by the fact that both my ears were full of water from an afternoon swimming. I seem to remember sauntering off muttering something along the lines of; "Sorry Dave, mate, but I can't hear a thing you're sayin' and I've got to get up and play now." What a prat! And he was super nice to my daughter, too!

I think playing the drums was a conscious decision for me to avoid a lot of the trappings of fame, which for me is frankly a bit of a turnoff. Where a drum kit is usually positioned on a stage serves as a great metaphor for what drummers actually do apart from hit things: They oversee, they observe and they listen.

In any case there's nothing like a trip back to Yorkshire if there was ever a danger of getting too big for your boots.

I was back there to attend my little brother Tim’s wedding this summer, and it served as the perfect reset. To my family, I'm the same person that shat in his sleeping bag on vacation in France at age 9. (Anxious to remove the evidence, I shook the contents out, and they rolled down a bank and onto the awning of the Germans’ camp below).

And to any farmer I might meet in the Yorkshire Dales, I'm "some wanker’"with a mid-Atlantic accent.

Still, I’m happy to be brought down a peg or two if it means I can go out there and "hit things" for a living. And, hey, if I'm really honest, who doesn't like meeting a celebrity?


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