The Five Minute Interview: Dave Rowntree, musician

Dave Rowntree, 44, is best known as the drummer from Britpop band Blur. He joined the band in 1989, playing with them throughout the 90s and early 2000s. Late last year the band ended their period of hiatus and announced a series of summer 2009 concerts. Outside of Blur, Dave is known for his political activism, his animation, and also for his involvement in the Beagle II mission to Mars. Dave is currently studying to become a solicitor and is supporting the Science: So What? So Everything campaign challenging apathy towards science.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be…

Doing my law studies. I’m currently studying to be a solicitor. It’s basically a three year law degree squashed in four months so it’s a bit like trying to drink law from a fire hose. My solicitor friends told me it would be difficult and I have to say they were totally right.

A phrase I use far too often...

I’ve often wondered about this as I find it a particularly annoying trait in other people. I hate it when someone says ‘do you know what I mean’ all the time. That one makes me snap. Law is making me much more argumentative as a person so I’m finding I’m growing increasingly intolerant of annoying voice ticks.

I wish people would take more notice of...

The fact science isn’t all boring old men in white coats because in actually underpins everything in the entire universe. There’s a real anti-science trend at the moment and a leaning towards new age, hocus-pocus remedies. We’re starting to see these things filter through into the NHS which, quite frankly, is ludicrous. There’s no point publically funding things that don’t work in the majority of cases.

A common misperception of me is...

That I’m a placid, relaxed individual. As I said earlier that has all gone out of the window since I got involved in the law.

The most surprising thing that ever happened to me was...

Discovering an interest in the law. I’ve never had a grand plan or design for life and have always just done the most interesting thing to me at that time. A good friend of mine told me that if I wanted to do something really fun, I should spend a day at the Old Bailey just watching cases. I did and before long I found myself hooked. I didn’t go along thinking I’d become a lawyer but one thing led to another and I ended up doing work experience for an East London law firm. Soon after that I decided to train to become a solicitor.

I am not a politician but...

Social housing is an issue that plays heavily on my mind. In Westminster where I live, a lot of our social housing has been sold off creating a real lack of homes. The few elements of social housing that remain are often the wrong kind and leave whole families crammed into single-bedroom accommodation. As a political activist I meet a lot of people in the area and the number one issue they want addressed is housing. Crime is a definite second.

I'm good at...

Lots of things. I can fly aeroplanes, I play bridge very well and I can work a number of computer animation programs. I actually made a show called Empire Square for Channel 4 which could be described as a modest hit. I try my hand at lots of things and providing I don’t lose focus, can master most of them.

But I'm very bad at...

Martial arts – though it didn’t stop me learning for twenty years. I’m also pretty bad at dancing which is odd because drummers usually have excellent full-body movement.

The ideal night out is...

An early night in. I live in the heart of London’s glossy West End so without doubt have the best of everything London has to offer right on my doorstep. However, I’m just so busy with law studies at the moment that, whenever I get the chance, I try to grab an early night.

In moments of weakness I...

Exercise – there’s nothing quite like it for clearing the brain. Drumming can also be particularly good when you’re feeling stressed which I think is why I’ve managed to stay sane all thee years.

You know me as a musician but in truer life I'd have been...

An Edwardian engineer covered in muck and oil. I love tinkering with machines so without doubt I’d have done something like that.

The best age to be is...

Anything other than 18. People always say 18 when they answer this question but for me that was an awful, angry age to be. I was considerably more politically active back then, one of those Socialist Worker carrying lunatics.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is…

Follow your nose. I try not to struggle against life and that’s always worked for me. I throw myself into lots of things utterly prepared to fail so sometimes I land on my arse, sometimes I land on my feet.

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