PHILOSOPHY Chuck Prophet loves music, the 'healthiest addiction' he has ever had, for its own sake.
WHEN Chuck Prophet joined Green On Red as a teenager, he had no ambitions to be a rock `n' roll star. "I grew up in a small town in California and I didn't even know anyone who'd been in a band or in a recording studio," he says.
"I didn't get into music to buy my parents a yacht."
Three decades later, music is all he's known.
"It's the healthiest addiction I've ever had. And I've had a few."
More of that later.
With Green On Red, he recorded eight albums until leaving to pursue a solo career. That was 20 years ago.
At the end of next month, he'll be releasing his eleventh solo effort Let Freedom Ring.
"I didn't think I was going to do another one. But I wrote a batch of three or four songs, stood back and thought `these songs may be going somewhere I've not been before'.
"Once I knew the direction the album was going in it was easy."
The album was partly inspired by Mexico City, where it was recorded. "It's only a three-hour flight from the west coast but might as well be the other side of the moon. It's a magically inspiring city full of opposites and extremes: friendly folks/corrupt cops, endless beauty/grime.
"With the ink barely dry on a shoe-box full of songs we rolled tape -- and with the punches -- for eight days while enduring poorly-timed blackouts, shakedowns by the Policia and a 6.4 earthquake.
"What really sticks in my mind was eating little tacos around a picnic table and smiling like idiots after plugging the guitars straight into the amps and blowing the roof off that tiny bamboo-lined room."
Music is his passion and way of life these days.
"Since I got clean from drugs and alcohol around eight years ago, my social life has revolved around making music with my friends."
For the show at The Maze next week he'll be with The Mission Express: Stephie Finch, Kevin White, Todd Roper and James Deprato.
Prophet has collaborated with a number of other songwriters but he has no preference whether he writes alone or with a partner.
What does he believe makes a good song?
"Nobody knows really. For me, I have my own values like honesty, but you need to be lucky too. It's a very mysterious thing. People can learn the craft of songwriting and learn how to go from a verse to a chorus but I don't know what it is about someone like Smokey Robinson that makes it different.
"Someone like Leonard Cohen pours things from beaker to beaker over time and creates a master painting, but then a band like Art Brut can come out with their first album and every song is great. And I have no idea how they did it."
As befits a man who is involved with music for music's sake, Prophet's take on success is pretty simple:
"I try to be nice to my wife, cook myself a decent meal every once in a while and still hope to find a guitar that will stay in tune. That's about it."