with Mandy Nolan
When it comes to musical royalty, Rufus Wainwright is blue blood. Son of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, brother of Martha Wainwright, father of Viva, two year old grandchild of Leonard Cohen, and stunning musician in his own right.
Rufus has had a pretty full dance card and most of it has been played out in the public arena. While still a teenager he came out as gay, he has struggled with drug addiction, had his own personal differences with his father and has always publicly identified as a complete libertarian. When Kate McGarrigle died in 2010 he had released Songs for Lulu, having embarked on a tour raising awareness of sarcoma, the cancer that killed his mother.
‘When Kate died I had been working on Songs for Lulu which I then went on and toured and turned into a mourning extravaganza on what it’s like to experience death. It was an incredible tour for me and it was about getting that support from the general public. But I learnt I needed to have fun and get back on the track so I wrote Out of the Game and a couple of other songs with the intention of their being more upbeat… then we got Marc Ronson to produce it.’
So how has Rufus managed to live so easily in the public eye without attempting to hide his personal struggles?
‘I wouldn’t say it’s courage – it’s more like an addiction! I wasn’t born with a filter for my personal life and my public life. In most cases it’s good, I think the public appreciates honesty, and other times it has gotten me into trouble and it hasn’t been appropriate – although I think everyone knows – even those I’ve hurt, that at the very least I am being sincere.’
When dealing with his crystal meths habit Wainwright was quoted as saying, ‘I thought, I am either going to rehab or I am going to live with my father. I knew I needed an asshole to yell at me, and I felt he fit the bill.’
The father/son relationship has been a challenging one, with both parties publicly pushing the buttons of the other.
‘My dad and I have really worked hard to fortify our relationship and to keep contact, I will also say that at times it’s a fucking nightmare, but it is a road that I have ride nobly.’
Rufus Wainwright’s husband is Jorn Weisbrodt. With reference to their union he has been quoted as saying, ‘I wasn’t a huge gay marriage supporter before I met Jorn because I love the whole old-school promiscuous Oscar Wilde freak show of what being gay once was. But since meeting Jorn all that changed.’
The distance Rufus feels, does help fan the flames. ‘It’s one of the fuelling aspects of our life together – that we have this time apart so when we come together it’s pretty romantic… there’s a lot of slow motion running and falling into linen! We work at it; when you find that person, it drives you crazy, but you want it to work.’
So when it comes to playing Bluesfest?
‘I will be sticking pretty close to the old faithfuls, cigarettes and chocolate milk, the art teacher, and hallelujah, once you manage to hook them in it’s fun to send a curve ball out there as well, but you have to get them in first!’
Rufus Wainwright – at Bluesfest this Easter.