FOR once, Baxter Dury seems to have bitten off more than he can chew. Literally.

The singer-songwriter and chronicler of contemporary Britain is keen to chat about his show at this weekend’s Wilderness Festival, but he’s just bought a veggie Ginster’s pasty and is tucking in.

“Things are going well, especially in Europe, though I haven’t quite worked out my demographic – and they don’t always turn up,” he deadpans in a voice which is at once warmly comforting and conspiratorial.

Five albums into his career, Baxter – son of the iconic Ian Dury – is on a roll, his talents as a songwriter and chronicler of contemporary existence flourishing and filling out since his 2002 debut Len Parrot’s Memorial Lift.

“I am honest,” he says of his work. “I choose a set of conditions and talk about myself. I’m self-obsessed. It’s a form of therapy. It’s not intellectual; I’m just talking about being a rubbish bloke.

“But you’ve got to get on with it. Your effort is the only thing that sells anything.”

His musically richly textured songs are character-based – even if the character they relate to is him.

“I’m interested in people and things,” he says. “Though I don’t know what I’m doing half the time... so you can’t interrogate too much.

“I’m not that reclining acoustic guy that writes powerful moving songs. I’m a suburban-sounding bloke narrating personal stories about himself over alternative music. And I have to be on my toes to do that.”

His latest outing Prince Of Tears is, perhaps unusually for a chap in his mid 40s, a break-up album informed by real heartbreak. And it’s a raw listen in its brutal open-hearted honesty and layers of vitriol and forgiveness.

He admits it is an uncommon theme for an established songwriter of his vintage. “I suppose it’s unusual in that men in their mid 40s try not to break up too much. And that’s good,” he says.

He pauses, and adds with trademark self-deprecation: “I hope people will not be in this situation at this age but the rock & roll environment delayed my emotional maturity.”

That it consists of a set of fictional vignettes only loosely inspired by real events, makes it no less personal.

“The album is full of little fictional snapshots based on actual experiences,” he says.

“They’re biographical film soundtracks for an imaginary film about myself, which is fictional. The man singing and speaking it all is unreliable, he can’t see the world properly. It’s massively delusional, but because of that it’s also emotionally true.”

“There’s a bit of common heartbreak.

“You can have loads of ideas or get all political, but actually there’s nothing more simply damming than heartbreak and nothing else is more life-changing.

“You could get shot and split up with your girlfriend in the same week and you’d still think about your girlfriend.

“So that happened, but I used it. Last year was a tough, so I just spent my time concentrating on this, nothing else.”

Of course, the thing I really want to talk about is his father – new wave icon, frontman of The Blockheads, singer of Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick and Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3, actor and campaigner.

While acknowledging his dad’s enormous legacy, Baxter is understandably keen to move the conversation on.

“It doesn’t matter,” he says when I ask about how he feels about being compared to the post-punk legend – and whether it’s easier or harder to succeed if you have a famous parent.

The Oxford Times:

“Well, it does matter, but it’s only wrong to use it to your advantage in a competitive way. But I’m not competing with my father – it’s more resistance.”

The freewheeling Wilderness, with its eclectic and thought-provoking line-up, is the perfect place for Baxter. And he is keen to get to Cornbury Park, near Charlbury, find out what it’s all about – and whether there’ll be any familiar faces in the crowd.

“People always complain about David Cameron being there last year,” he says. “You can be anything you want if you’re right in the first place but not if you were wrong. Turning up at a festival after raping the country is one of the worst acts of betrayal.”

So is he very political? Artists tend to be left wing but my politics aren’t very practical,” he admits. “They are more ‘Disney’ left wing; I don’t look at the statistics and I don’t get very active.”

So what can we expect from his set at the festival? “A funny bloke talking rubbish and narrative-based alternative indie,” he says.

“Hopefully if they’ll know it they can relate to it. And if they’ve never heard it they can make their own minds up.

“Some people do make up their minds quickly... too quickly!”

The Oxford Times:

  • Baxter Dury plays Wilderness Festival at Cornbury Park, near Charlbury. The festival runs from today to Sunday. Go to wildernessfestival.com