Elvis Costello may have been around since 1977 but he is only looking forward. Before he plays Love Supreme Jazz Festival, he tells WEEKEND about rejecting nostalgia, his plans for a musical, and why you won’t catch him writing protest songs

ELVIS Costello doesn’t have a relationship with nostalgia.

The rock and roll star - who turns 64 this year - has now been performing for more than four decades and boasts an impressive back catalogue that he regularly explores in live performance.

But just because he still sings those tracks, it doesn’t give him any sentimental affection for the past. Or so he argues down the phone from New York City.

“I’m aware of other people’s nostalgia about particular songs but that doesn’t influence the way I perform even those same songs,” he continues, adamantly.

“If I performed a song my view would be different to theirs, that’s ok isn’t it?”

Providing examples, he references last year’s anniversary tour of his 1982, Imperial Bedroom, in which he opted to mix up the order and change the arrangement.

“People are inclined to make a big deal about decades aren’t they?” he says with a sigh.

“We haven’t so much. Last year we made a gag, 35th year since we released Imperial Bedroom. It was a satirical spin to it because obviously if we’d been doing it in a very straight faced way we would have done it on an a decade anniversary and we didn’t.”

There’s a similar response to a question about his 40-year career. “I guess it is if you tell me it is. I don’t count things like that,” he says.

“I’m not saying I’m not playing the songs from the past, we do play them.

“The puzzle of all of this, the puzzle of time is for it to be something which propels you forwards rather than something that holds you back.”

Born Declan Patrick MacManus in Paddington, London on August 25 1954, he became Elvis Costello in 1977 – the same year the slightly more famed Elvis died.

As a teenager he moved to Liverpool with his mother before returning to the capital a few years later where he eventually exploded into the scene as a brash singer songwriter.

His last solo album came in 2010 and he considered writing a new one a “fool’s errand” before deciding he wanted to see what a record would sound like from Elvis Costello and The Imposters in 2018. “I wanted a picture of this group, and songs that I came up with, once you’ve got a simple idea like that it’s not hard to do.”

As someone whose early music targeted British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, Margaret Thatcher and the British Army’s role in Northern Ireland, it may be that Costello was inspired to write a new album by the global political upheaval of the last two years. Not so, he says.

“The truth of it is I wouldn’t want to waste my breath,” he says at an agonising pace, to hit the point home.

“It’s satirist sort of territory where we are right now.”

“What would be the song we could sing about that really? It’s so transparent, there’s no poetry in it.

“And the whole process is mediocrity ... why would I want to be that close to mediocrity? There are other songs to sing which are about the way people are which outlast the immediacies of that nature, that’s what I want to do.”

Costello remains a busy man. He has twin sons, Dexter and Frank, 11, with third wife Diana Krall who he married at the home of Elton John in 2003.

Would he ever follow in Sir Elton’s footsteps who recently announced his retirement from touring to spend more time with his own children?

“I reconsidered my priorities about 10 years ago when I stopped neurotically looking for the next record contract to follow the last one,” he says.

“I knew I had to devote so much time to the road work because I could see the way the business was going.

“Beyond the new album there’s A Face In The Crowd [his planned musical] – after I finish in the studio I go back into workshop on that.

“None of that sounds like anybody that’s looking to put their feet up.”

lLove Supreme Jazz Festival takes place at Glynde Place from June 29 to July 1. For tickets and more information visit lovesupremefestival.com