I may be mispronouncing the word a few times, because French wasn't my first foreign language, but 'Oh-bear-sh', is that close enough?

Well, you don't have to be French to say the title, because the title is an Englishism, anyway. 'Auberge' literally now in France means a motel, it's pretty down-mark, not particularly up-mark, in France it's not particularly romantic. For French people an 'Auberge' is somewhere where they had to stop off because they didn't make it home in time, so they don't particularly feel great about 'Auberges'. But for the English this is romanticism attracted with the word, and the translation of it meaning temporary resting place, and that's exactly what this album was for me after 'The road to hell', I felt as if I had to do some sort of continuation. I didn't wanna go well OK, I did a sort of semi-masterwork with 'Road to hell' and then that's it, that's forgotten about.

The things that annoyed and angered me as a normal family man which prompted me to write 'Road to hell', I still felt the same when I was about starting to do the next album, so the only way I could sort of approach it with any sort of sincerity and rationalisation was to say Well OK, what happens if the guy from 'Road to hell' escapes for the week-end. And he's in France, and he's in a car that is not yuppie car, it's not the normal traffic-jam car, it's got no telephone, no heat-air, it's got no hi-fi, it's got no mobile fax machine. It's a very fast car, but it's a very cheap car. Very individualistic, it's a stab at solitarism, and individualism, and it's a stab at it for 48 hours. And we find out on the next album whether or not he stayed that way or whether he went back.

A beach, the summer, you've written about the beach and the summer before, so that's a nice idea, and it's come back on this new album the song 'Looking for the summer'...

In this case 'Looking for the summer', the idea of the song is fundamentally a guy is looking at his daughter, who is now just about in her teen-age years, and leave, being his infant daughter, and he sees her turn away, and she's looking to her summer, she's spring looking for the summer, and he then in Autumn, looks back and remembers what it was like when he also looked for his summer, and in the third verse reminds his wife how they scratched and hurt each other's growing pains, while they both looked for their summers, and in many ways he still looks for his summer.

The song 'Gone Fishing', I know a lot of people have remarked to me they have listened to the record, "I like that song, that's what we should do, just go fishing, forget about everything".

The funny thing about that song is as I say in the song, I don't know anything about fishing. he bottom line of the tune is that when you get to the last day of your life and you look back, and you see how many hours you've spent in traffic-jams, pushing and shoving, how many hours you've spent elbowing people out of the way and being elbowed out of the way; You just thing to yourself I wish I had all them hours back, cos I may as well have gone fishing.

'Red shoes', not blue suede shoes, red shoes?

'Red shoes' is dedicated to a lady called Madonna, which a lot of people are always surprised to hear. That came from this week-end a had away; I happened to be listening to anything that was on the radio in the hotel, and one of the things I heard was this lady, who was bitterly complaining about what a terrible example Madonna sets our children. And I've gotta tell you, I'm a very Irish-Italian father of two daughters who is always extremely paranoid and worried and frantic, and biting the leg of the chair about my daughters. BUT, having said that, the type of image that Madonna preters, I completely disagreed with this woman. For me the dangerous image is the Kylie Minogue, Kim Wilde image of this getting ready, to make yourself look glamorous for the man, so the man or the boy, or the male, will have his way with you, break your heart, and probably leave you in a lot of trouble. The Madonna image, the idea behind the whole thing of Madonna, is that sex needn't break your heart, and needn't scar you for life, and you shouldn't be afraid of anything you do. I think she carries probably one of the best examples of being strong, as an image. I would far rather see my daughters inspired to what Madonna shows you that you can do with your life, than any of these silly pop star girls.

These days there must be tremendous pressure on you as a performer because you not only have to write and record the music and to support your record but now you must also make a video. Do you have a problem dealing with that added responsibility?

The concept is fine by me, if you are left alone to do it, as a writer. For me there is only one way the video should be done; the video should be what the writer saw when he wrote the song. And to me there can be nothing else. I'm also quite willing to let a filmmaker to go and make a video of what he sees when he hears the song. That's quite interesting. But also, most record companies don't like that neither.

What about touring? What about playing live in America?

Well for me, you know, I'm quite prepared to make America part of my European tour, if it's put together that way. Things are changing now very rapidly in America for me, because I am now talked to and about by guys like yourself, as a Ry Cooder type of person, as a musician first, as a writer first; someone who plays live with a band, a proper musician. Then we'll talk about success or failure. So that makes me comfortable, I'm quite prepared to be a very successful musician, I'm not prepared to be a rock star. And I have enough people in America who know Chris Rea for that. So I feel a lot more comfortable about the States.

Does it bother you not being that well known in America?

Well, no it doesn't, you see, because it's proof that... If it bothered me I'd know there is something wrong with what I've always said in interviews, but being famous was never a goal of mine. And I'm in a pretty unique position, anyway, the whole thing is a unique situation. I've gotta be one of the only artists in the world who sells an exess of three million copies per album, of which less than 10% are in America. Normally, to sell that amount of albums you've got to sell a hardy amount in the States, and then the rest of the world. With me it's the exact opposite. It's the rest of the world, absolutely everywhere, exept the States.

Tell me about your unconventional touring style

The general rule is three days on and one day off and home, never more than a week away from home. It costs me more money, it's the vintage Ferrari in somebody's showroom that I'll never own because of it, but I think it's a fair price to pay. It's what I want to do. It's important also to it's not a moralistic thing that I do, I'm not trying to be good, to be good to my family, it's actually just desire. I truly do love my wife, and I don't just tell you that I do. And I do wanna see her whenever I can. I know it's become very trendy, in the 80's for a lot of guys in this business to say hey, I'm a normal guy, I've got a family life. I'm one of the few who aren't telling lies about that. So I do actually need to go home.

David Letterman, you've done the David Letterman Show before, I think...

I've actually got a t-shirt which says "So what's the matter with Letterman?" written on it. There's so many people saying "my god, you're doing Letterman? Are you OK? Will you be all right?" Because I don't spend much time in the America, I don't realize this relationship he has with the public and other journalists, for me I think he's a really nice guy (hah!).

And why is it that you need to get the Parmesian cheese in the middle and not on either end? I saw this quote where you were talking about standing on line.. you like to do things very much your own way, you're very specific about that, you're also a food enthusiast. And you said "And I'll stand on line at the deli just so that he'll cut that Parmesian cheese in the middle"

That came from an interview, somebody was saying "well give me an example of why you're not a rock star, like Peter Gabriel or Sting". And I was saying I write my songs from 52nd street, if you like, they're not from the penthouse apartment. And he said give me an example. One of the examples was my motor-racing interests make me do things that I will not allow anybody else to do. So that puts me in the queue waiting for parts with everybody else. It also... my love of cooking puts me in the deli, cos I refuse to let other people buy my Parmesian cheese. Because if I send somebody else to the deli where I live, for Parmesian cheese, they come back and half of it's the outside. And I'm paying good money for this as well, I'm paying £3 per pound for this hard skin, and if I go myself, I can convince him to take it from the centre. And as every good songwriter knows, Parmesian is best from the centre. :-)