Hal Lindes on joining Dire Straits, performing for royalty, and not writing like Mark Knopfler



By Steve Newton

Stepping out of nowhere into one of the world’s most popular and critically acclaimed bands would be a momentous move for any rock musician–and probably a scary one as well. Especially if the member you were hoping to replace was the band leader’s younger brother!

But that’s exactly what California-born guitarist Hal Lindes did after David Knopfler, kin to Dire Straits singer/songwriter/lead guitarist Mark Knopfler, decided to pack it in. And the addition of Lindes hasn’t hurt the band one bit–at least not in the eyes of the Canadian record-buying public. The first album with the new recruit, Love Over Gold, scored Double Platinum status in this country, and Canada is the only worldwide territory to go Gold on the group’s most recent release, the mini-LP ExtendedanceEPlay, which features “Twisting By the Pool”.

The youngest member of Dire Straits at 30, Lindes is certainly keeping good company trading licks with Mark Knopfler, who was voted the Best New Guitarist of 1979 by the prestigious Guitar Player magazine. Fans of the band will be able to hear just how well the players complement each other in a live context on the just-released double album Alchemy, which was recorded in July of last year, at the Hammersmith Odean on England.

When he called from London on March 14 Lindes was asked about the new album, Dire Straits’ busy touring schedule of ’83, and their plans for the near future.

How did you come to join Dire Straits?

Well I joined just after they finished recording Making Movies. I hadn’t known at the time that David [Knopfler, Mark’s brother] had left the band, ’cause it was all pretty quiet, but it was mentioned to me that they were looking for a guitarist. And I thought, “What! That’s an incredible twist of fate!”

So I said I’d really like to come down and play with the band.

Had you been following the band up till then?

Well no. I mean I had their first album and I knew it was good–I liked Mark’s playing. But I wasn’t like a big Dire Straits fan.

Were there a lot of guitarists auditioning?

No no. When I came down there was no one there. I came in and met everyone and then we went through “Tunnel of Love”. At that point I really enjoyed it, and I really wanted to be part of it because the chemistry was right.

I understand you did a charity concert with Duran Duran for Prince Charles and Lady Diana last year. How did that come about?

It was written somewhere that Princess Diana has said we were her favourite band. We were just asked if we wanted to do the show, and were thrilled to do it.

It went pretty well, did it?

Yeah, it was fine. I mean there were a lot of Duran Duran fans, which aren’t quite the same calibre as Dire Straits fans.

Did you get to meet Prince Charles and Lady Di?

Yes we did. Twice. And they were very nice; they told us that they enjoyed it tremendously. In fact we could see them in the balcony, and they seemed quite enthralled by the whole thing.

Did you ever get around to playing at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris? I heard that you were invited to take part in an annual arts festival there.

[Sighs] I’m really disappointed that that couldn’t happen. For some reason the government couldn’t organize it properly. That would have been fantastic.

I wonder how the acoustics are in there. Pretty good, I would imagine.

Well I had the feeling we were supposed to do it outside. See we had done a week in Paris and the band is quite popular all over France. It would have been a free thing and you would have got a lot of people. And it woud have been summertime and everything.

Has the band written any new material since Twisting By the Pool?

Yeah. Mark writes all the time, so i think he’s just compiling his stuff. And we want to do a studio record in the summertime, so I’m sure he’s got a few things.

Mark Knopfler has done all the writing in the band, but would you ever like to write some of the tunes?

Well I’ve been working hard at writing, but I couldn’t really write for the band because I don’t write anything like Mark. And if the band ever did some outside material it wouldn’t sound like Dire Straits.


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