The Adur Labour candidate who is the subject of Blur's Country House
He once lived in a house, '˜a very big house in the country' but now he is running for the Labour Party in the Adur District Council election in May.
His name is David Balfe – a former musician and record company executive – who is perhaps most notable for playing the keyboard with The Teardrop Explodes and signing Blur before becoming the subject of the hit band’s 1995 number one hit Country House.
But now, more than 20 years later, David – who was inspired by Jeremy Corbyn when he became leader of the Labour Party – is the Labour candidate for Eastbrook in the election on May 3.
Shortly before moving to Southwick, Mr Corbyn had just been made the leader of the Labour Party – an important moment in the start of David’s political career.
He added: “In that leadership race, I was listening to a politician who seemed to honestly believe the things he was saying.
“The Labour Party should always be about helping out the many, and not the few, and in Corbyn’s leadership I could see that.
“I felt extremely inspired, signed up to the Labour Party, attended some events and then decided I should try to become a local councillor.”
As the area prepares to welcome large-scale developments, more homes and IKEA, David said the issues surrounding homes and pollution are at the top of his agenda.
He added: “My main intention is just to be a good councillor to the people of my ward. I want to be a councillor who people can ring up and rely on to help them fix a problem.
“We want to increase the amount of social housing in an area where there are incredibly less than there were even ten years ago, let alone 20, 30 or 40 years ago.
“We also want to increase the amount of housing. There are enormous plans for big developments in Shoreham which could be great assets for the area but it is incredibly important that they are not just enormous developments that do nothing but increase the number of cars on the road and pollution in the area.
“We need to make sure they are not enormously expensive because they don’t need to be and young families cannot afford that. We have not got a lot of space here to build homes so we cannot allow them to become holiday homes for rich people.”
Born in Carlisle, in October 1958, David grew up in Merseyside and had little interest in the world of politics as he developed a love for rock music and played alongside several bands including Radio Blank, Dalek I Love You, Big In Japan and The Teardrop Explodes.
It was with the Teardrops at the end of the 1970s that he first made his name. Having set up the Zoo record label with Bill Drummond – a Scottish musician he managed bands with in Liverpool – in 1978, he became the label’s head, as well as manager and producer of the Teardrops before taking over as its keyboard player for four years.
The band disbanded in 1983 and David moved to London where he founded the Food record label a year later.
He signed Jesus Jones who went on to have a number one album with Doubt and, a year later, signed Seymour before convincing them to change their name to Blur, in 1989.
David said: “In my twenties, the rock music scene didn’t feel like work. I loved the industry growing up and it quickly became my job.
“By the time I reached my thirties, I had felt disenchanted by the scene and wanted to get out.”
In 1994, aged 36, David decided to sell the Food label to EMI and semi-retire to the country with his wife and three children, inspiring Blur’s first number one hit Country House in the process.
He briefly returned to the industry to become general manager at Sony Music in 1996 before stepping away for good in 1999.
He went on to pursue his love in creative writing – a field in which he obtained a degree from the University of Bedfordshire, in 2003 – before securing a master’s degree in screenwriting from the University of Westminster in 2006.
During this time, David was a volunteer with the Samaritans – a role he said had a big effect on his move into politics.
He added: “I was a Samaritan volunteer for 12 years until a few years ago. The tales I heard at the end of the Samaritans line, and from visitors in person, really revealed the enormous pain and hardship that exists out there, that we don’t normally see or hear about. And how much despair and suffering can result from financial disasters, from family break up, health problems, and just bad luck.
“Many of us are just a small run of bad luck away from a life on the streets, or suicide. This fundamentally altered my feelings about society, and how we have to do more to help people. Make bad luck harder to happen for people.
“Unfortunately I had to give up Samaritans because I had a bad bout of depression after my dad died in 2012. I carried on for a while, but after a year or so I felt that I had to give it up as I wasn’t sure it was helping me, or that I could help others in the profoundly negative state I’d reached.”
He moved to Southwick two years ago alongside his wife of 29 years Helen and fell in love with the place before deciding to run in the local elections.
He said: “I have a few friends in Brighton and I always liked the idea of moving down here. I love the Downs, the sea and I also love the people. It is a great place to live.
“I would describe this area, and Brighton, as the San Francisco of Britain.”
David has spent the past few weeks canvassing and knocking on doors, talking to potential voters.
He said: “I have been surprised by the positive reaction of people I have spoken to. Even those who don’t agree with me or with the Labour Party have been nice enough to have a conversation.
“As someone who has never done the door knocking, I was nervous to begin with but the people I have spoken to have been lovely.
“I would just like to encourage everyone to get out and vote in May. I have spoken to people who say they don’t vote because politicians all say the same things. These are people living in a council-owned property who use the NHS. It is vital that people get out and vote.”