How did you two come together?
Brooks: Boo invited me to join him for his annual Christmas gig at The Maltings in Ely in 2010. It was the first time we played together and it had a really good feel to it. The vibe was there from the beginning, in my opinion. We did a couple more gigs together in the following months then Boo brought up the idea of us collaborating on some songs with an eye toward a possible recording.
You’ve both been around for a long time. Is this just another collaboration for you or is it more than that?
Brooks: This is my first real collaboration where I'm committing time and songs to a full-on CD with tour dates and promotion and it's very exciting. I really like Boo's music, and have done so since the first time I heard it. His songs are very musical, if you know what I mean; they sing even when you take the words away. His musicianship and songs inspired me to take this seriously. But equally someone of his talent wanting to do a collaborative project with me inspired me to take it seriously as well. So it is truly a collaboration, rather than two artists just working alongside each other. Plus, I think we have a similar work ethic, and that's rare in this business!
Boo: Ha ha! All collaborations I have been involved with have been artistically motivated. This one feels very special and we are planning to do more.
Why do you think work well together and what defines your sound?
Brooks: Our sound is 'smart Brit-pop meets American roots'. But there's also a love of crooner-style jazz and those sparsely recorded country records.
Boo: I think a similar life journey is what draws us together and when we play it just feels right.
Your record is due out in April on Reveal. What made you decide to make an album?
Boo: The thought of having a musical partner that lived within a hundred miles and the chance to create something of our own.
Brooks: The idea to make this record was firstly Boo's. He suggested we make a 4-song EP and maybe do a few gigs together. We ended up really getting into it and wrote (separately or together) more than enough tracks for a full-length CD.
Where did you record it? Do you record well together as a duo or was it a tough time in the studio?
Boo: Glasgow. The easiest recording experience I've ever had, all live no headphones!
Brooks: We recorded at Kyoti in Glasgow with Mark Freegard engineering and producing with us. The flow in the studio was amazing. I've made 17 or so CDs over the course of my career so far and this project was far and above the most enjoyable of all. We played music as opposed to making an album, if that makes any sense. And the most surprising part of the process is that the order you hear the songs on the CD is the order we recorded them.
Do you write together or more individually? Where do you draw your influences for writing? Does it come naturally?
Brooks: We wrote some of the songs on State of the Union together. Others we wrote on our own. My influences range from Willie Nelson to Jimmy Webb to Hank Williams.
Boo: We write together and apart. We just KNOW when it's a SOTU song.
Boo particularly has written for many artists, are the songs for State Of The Union newer versions of old stuff or is it all new?
Boo: All new except ‘Sweet Honey On The Rock’ which I wrote for Kris Drever.
There is a brilliant looking tour coming up in support of the record. Do you both enjoy the time spent on the road?
Boo: It's been my life for so long, it's my home from home and it'll be good to share it with a pal who feels the same way.
Brooks: I think of Boo and I as the quintessential road warriors. We both work a lot and tour a lot, so the upcoming tour looks great!
Brooks has played all over the world. Is there anywhere you think you might have missed and want to play?
Brooks: I've never played Australia, The Netherlands or Germany, so they are all places on my wish list!
Who are the best or favourite artists that you’ve worked with in the past? And who would you like to work with in the future? (Not each other).
Boo: I only work with people I want to. I really do care about them all. The future? I like surprises!
Brooks: I liked working with an American fiddler/singer called Rani Arbo. In the future I'd fancy an acoustic set with Imelda May or some Gospel with Tom Jones or a bash with Mumford and Sons.
Why do you think there is a constant coming together of Americana and British music? What are the bonds in this long standing relationship?
Brooks: It comes down to a recognition of our shared roots. Americana music has come from country music which came from the music of the British Isles. Time can't bury the link and the music still flows easily back and forth across the Atlantic.
Boo: We're divided by a common language which is fun and seems a little glamorous.
Why do you think Americana is so popular in the UK?
Brooks: Americana is traditionally very lyric driven music and I think UK audiences are very lyric-minded listeners. They like a good song with a good story. British roots music is also very lyric driven so is rings true for UK listeners, I think.
What have you been listening to lately?
Brooks: Elbow, Civil Wars, Brad Paisley, Gram Parsons, The Little Willies
Boo: I listen to millions of things, I used to work in record shops, it's a habit. This week? Philadelphia International, the RE-Edits.
Will there be more to come from State Of The Union?
Brooks: Yes, we've been asked to do another recording of new songs at the end of the year, so we're writing songs for that at the moment.