Mark Knopfler: How I fit Bob Dylan in around the school run

The former Dire Straits frontman tells Paul Sexton about tours, hit albums, and not slowing down

Mark Knopfler doesn't seem to have read the rules. In their sixties, rock gods are supposed to slow down, release an album every five years and either tour unwillingly or just stay at home and count their millions.

Instead of which, last week the former Dire Straits frontman released his seventh solo studio album (not counting nine film soundtracks, a record with Emmylou Harris and other collaborations beyond number). It's another beautifully turned collection of folk, blues and Americana portraiture – two discs and 20 tracks of vivid tales of perseverance, with a cast of sheep farmers, truck drivers and sundry other survivors.

With barely a peep of publicity, it effortlessly achieved Knopfler's usual top 10 berth last weekend and conquered charts across Europe. "It could have been a triple album, but that would have been just terrible," says Knopfler, an extremely chipper 63, his eyes smiling at his own productivity. "Unforgiveable, really. I decided to put the brakes on, but I didn't want these things to lose their moment. There is a kind of a moment, isn't there?"

Next month, Knopfler and his fellow privateers will set off across the Atlantic for a 30-date run around North America opening for Bob Dylan, following a sellout European run together last year. "We're doing 75 minutes each, then I've got time to get back on and play with Bob for a few songs. We had fun in Europe, the bands get on great and the crews get on great.

"I see Bob every day on tour. His soundcheck goes into mine, so we'll have a little chat about what songs I'm going to do. It's nice, because we go back aways. The first tour we did in America [in 1979], Bob came to see us in Los Angeles." Dylan went backstage after a Roxy show to ask the rising British guitarist to play on his Slow Train Coming album, and Knopfler went on to co-produce his 1983 set Infidels.

Next year, the Privateering tour will cross Europe for more than three months. "It came as a huge shock to me, when I was a kid, to realise that there were people out there playing who didn't like each other," he says. "I had this little comic book idea that we're all the best of friends."

His own inter-band issues came relatively early in 1980, when his brother David left Dire Straits while they were on their way to a level of fame and fan-worship that Mark himself found ultimately unmanageable. It taught him some lessons about success that he's never forgotten.

"Surviving that had its tricky moments, but being that little bit older really helped," he muses. "It's really traumatic for teenagers. I think when they experience deification they're never quite right afterwards."

Often seen as the most private of privateers, Knopfler happily describes to me how his third wife, Kitty, and their children Isabella and Katya will occasionally come on the road. "Where it's a nice place, and you're going to be there for two or three days, for instance when we're in Los Angeles, I would always have the family come. You can play with the kids and have dinner with your missus, and that's very important.

"And the tours are all planned around the school holidays. School days, I'm just like any other parent. I get up, make breakfast for the kids, I take one to school and Kitty takes the other and then we just get on with our work. That's what we do."

'Privateering' is out now on Mercury. Mark Knopfler tours the UK next May as part of his European tour

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas