I was born on a turkey farm in Tamworth, meaning that I hated country music because that’s all that was on the radio. But so much of country music is about telling a story, and I’ve grown to adore narrative songs that have a journey through them.
I suppose Rodgers and Hammerstein was the big influence growing up: Carouseland South Pacificplus My Fair Lady. My parents had those records, and I remember us singing The Sound of Musicin the car as we travelled. At the same time as I was listening to Carousel, I was also listening to Jimi Hendrix, but I also became interested in Lieder at school. I don’t know how, but again it was probably because of the narratives. You think of something like Winterreiseor Erlkönig, they’re stories.
Philip Quast as Ben Stone in Follies at the National Theatre. Photo © Johan Persson
Growing up, we...