Ricky Gervais has resurrected his comedy persona, David Brent, and now he is releasing not only a film, part of which was shot in Watford, but his very own album, Life on the Road and songbook.

Here, the 55-year-old gives us a track by track lowdown.

Ooh La La…

Yes, this is like a mid-life crisis. A middle-aged man singing about selling his shack in Memphis and driving down to Mexico with a six-string guitar and a bottle of Jack, you know. He’s talking like he’s some American dude and he’s picking up chicks and he’s telling them, ‘”This is it babe” and they’re crying, but then I’m gone.’ It’s like an adolescent fantasy. But the song is ridiculously catchy and if it wasn’t David Brent singing it, it wouldn’t be funny. If it was Tom Petty singing that, it would be cool, like Americana brought to life. But when you know who’s singing it, it’s funny.

Native American...

He thinks he’s the first person ever to bring up the fact that the Native American was exploited. He thinks he’s Neil Young. He’s got all the facts off Wikipedia and he sticks a song together, and he has all these awful trite clichés of ‘The White man’s eyes too blind to see, a gentle race so wild and free’. And the more he tries to be on their side the more he stitches them up with his stupidity and his accidental racism.

The film is quite a lot about race. It’s about that white middle-class angst that makes him want to walk into a room and say, ‘I am not a racist!’. But you don’t have to! ‘It’s all right, mate...’ His heart is in the right place but he’s desperate to please. His sidekick Dom knows he’s not a bad bloke, he’s a bit cringey like having an embarrassing uncle, but he knows his heart is in the right place and that he’s not a racist. He’s just desperately uncool to be around. But there is an affection there between them…

Lonely Cowboy

Brent thinks this is a wonderful metaphor for being a loner and thinking you’ve found the right woman but she turns out to be bad. So he’s a wounded man who thinks that all women are out to get him. He’s an accidental misogynist. He’s saying be careful of a woman who might look like an angel but she can be a crow. It’s about pretending to be something you’re not. About trying to be popular rather than just saying what you really mean. And he gets his sidekick Dom to do a rap about it, which takes the metaphor on and it gets more and more confused. It’s a mish-mash of poetry, bad metaphor and slide guitar.

The classic Freelove Freeway...

Yes, the classic revisited and brought up to date and still ridiculously catchy. It’s a bit derivative but it’s something that John Cougar Mellencamp or Tom Petty might sing. But when you remember it’s a 55-year-old tampon seller, it’s suddenly ludicrous. And it’s not cool. And it’s not appropriate.

The title track, Life On The Road?

It’s got a bit of rock and a bit of 1978 American garage – Patti Smith meets Springsteen... but he’s singing about repping. He thinks this is a glamorous life, going up and down the country and he talks about the roads he takes and what he’s selling, talking about ‘killing it in Widnes’. He doesn’t realise that’s not very rock and roll. But he thinks it’s cool. It’s the title track and I thought it would be a good title for the film because there’s an ambiguity there... life on the road is about being on tour but really it’s a song about repping. It’s quite tragic.

Slough...

What a beautiful song this would be if it wasn’t a song about Slough! “Equidistant ‘tween London and Reading”. He’s trying to get his own back on Betjeman and his poem. This is his reply to John Betjeman’s diss. There’s a bathos to mentioning a parochial town in the context of this beautiful verdant Vaughn Williams-esque Radiohead-style ballad: “To the west you’ve got Taplow and Bray... You’ve got Hillingdon the other way”. It’s so pedestrian but it’s done with a straight face and strings and beautiful sounds and rhythms to accentuate how foolish it is to sing a song about a place and where it sits geographically!

Thank F*** It’s Friday, which is a big rock anthem...

Yeah, this is meant to be the Rolling Stones meets Van Halen. It’s about how wherever he is in the country selling tampons, he always makes it back to Slough for the weekend, for a few beers. It’s mean to be rock and roll but also about how he gets his dry-cleaning done on a Sunday. It’s about waking up with a bit of a hangover. It’s quite sad to sing a song about how you sort of live for Saturday, you know ‘It’s Friday, I’ve got tonight, and I’ve got tomorrow as well and then Sunday I’m having my shirts dry-cleaned and then I’m back to work on Monday’. He’s tried to romanticise how he’s doing a job he doesn’t really like so he can get drunk two nights a week.

Lady Gypsy...

It’s a beautiful folk ballad about the time David Brent lost his virginity to a traveller. It’s all about the language. He can’t just say, ‘When I was 18... “ He has to say, ‘When I had known only 18 summers’, so it’s a little bit of a parody of folk and its phraseology. And as for the story itself, we don’t know if this really did happen. Did he really lose his virginity in the woods? Did he really? And of course he tries to look younger in the video, with a neckerchief, dressed like Robin Hood. And he even ends up having an argument with the woman in the song.

It’s the closest to a comedy song out of all of them, because it’s ludicrous. Because it’s so pedestrian, he’s actually included his argument with this woman in the lyrics. The song that influenced me was by Cat Stevens, one of my favourite artists of all time, called The Boy With The Moon And Star On His Head, and it’s this strange fantasy story. It goes (sings) “A gardener’s daughter stopped me on my way, on the day I was to wed, it is you who I wish to share my body with she said…” and then nine months later a boy arrives on his doorstep with the moon and a star on his head. It’s this strange fantasy and it must have stayed with me for 40 years. (laughs)

Times Series:

Please Don’t Make Fun Of The Disableds...

David Brent is thinking that he’s doing the right thing by saying don’t make fun of disabled people. But he gets the word wrong, and lists disabilities and ends up being accidentally insulting, while he thinks he’s doing this huge, heartfelt Celine Dion-style ballad. And it’s actually a warning about getting in trouble for saying the wrong thing! He’s a man who has had political correctness forced on him in the ‘80s when he thought he was cool and he suddenly had to be careful about what he said. But it never quite sunk in.

Paris Nights...

This song isn’t in the movie but you get to hear the new second verse on the album and as David says, ‘It’s the second verse that is the most informative’. It’s meant to be a wonderful tribute (to Diana), but he gets it all screwed up and says ridiculous things. It’s is one of my favourites still, because of the new verse, which is David Brent at his remarkable, accidentally un-PC worst.

Don’t Cry It’s Christmas, which is a big moment in the movie...

A ludicrous song based on a true story Brent read about a local orphan boy who’s dying and trying to stay alive until Christmas. So he imagines he’s singing to this kid, but in reality this would be the worst song you could sing to a dying child. But strangely in the movie, there’s a beautiful, tiny moment that happens during this song which ends up being massive for him.

It’s about the ordinary becoming extraordinary... the little things that end up being huge: a pat on the back can be bigger than winning the Cup Final. This is a massive moment for David Brent.

Spaceman...

One of the original Brent songs but you get a new, second verse which explains what it’s all about. It’s probably Brent’s most ambitious project. He imagines an alien coming and sorting out racism. Again, he gets very confused and he gets very pedestrian towards the end. It’s his Bowie moment. And Bowie’s very much still with me. His song Fashion features in the movie; it’s the song that plays while there’s a montage of Brent getting his publicity shots done and of course it’s entirely inappropriate because the clothes David Brent dresses up in are anything but fashionable. He’s out of time and out of place, trying to be something he’s not.

Equality Street...

There’s only a little bit of it in the movie but this is the song which kick-started David Brent’s return. It started off when he was living vicariously through a young rapper called Dom Johnson but then he wormed his way in to being on the track and then appeared in the video and now it’s all about Brent.

But this is when they first met and he got Dom to rap. It started with him wanting to impress Dom, and now he can’t get over the fact that’s he’s got a black friend. Dom knows Brent’s heart is in the right place. Although he begs Brent not to use a Jamaican accent on the song, but he does. He just has to.

Then it’s Ain’t No Trouble...

This is influenced by another Cat Stevens song, Moon Shadow, but in Brent’s version he’s singing it through the eyes of an old Rasta. He wanted to give this song to the Reggae Reggae Sauce guy (Levi Roots), but his condiments have taken off so well, he doesn’t think the guy needs this song any more so Brent sings it himself, but with a Jamaican accent again!

Again his heart is in the right place… the song is saying, ‘I could lose this and I could lose that, but as long as I got me woman, life’s all right’. It’s a good idea, but why sing it like an old Rasta? As Dom says in the film, “You think it’s difficult to watch, but I have to stand by him while he’s doing it. It’s what the Dreads in UB40 have been going through for 40 years”.

Finally, Electricity...

This is the odd one out on the album because it’s almost as if Brent has written this song after the movie, because in the film he tells a co-worker that he’s going to write about what’s happened to him, but ‘with a Coldplay vibe’. Because that’s what Chris Martin does: he takes ordinary, everyday things and makes them about the Universe.

And the joke is, when it kicks in over the end credits it’s exactly like a Coldplay song. In fact it’s like every one of their songs stolen and mismatched and put into this vehicle for Brent to sing about the Universe. And I thought it would be funny as a little Easter egg for Chris Martin to sing on it, but just the last few bars. When he heard the song he started laughing and said, ‘No I get it... let me help you to take the piss out of me’! But if Brent’s not singing it, it’s a cracking track! But this song is the odd one out; it’s like the behind the scenes of the movie taking over…

Q: Because it would be difficult imagining Chris Martin duetting with David Brent?

A: Of course. It does break the fourth wall really but only over the end credits…

Q: Although thinking about it, Chris Martin is a very lovely guy so maybe…

A: Oh yeah honestly, if there was a rep somewhere who bumped into Chris and asked him to do him a favour, Chris Martin would actually do it because he likes to help people!

Q: So how important is it that this isn’t a soundtrack album but a proper record that David Brent would actually have made as an artist?

A: Yes well it’s not a soundtrack album unless that’s the only category I can get it into for the Grammys... in which case it is a soundtrack album! [laughs] But no, this is David Brent’s album. It’s not my album. This is not me trying to live vicariously through a fictional character. This is Brent getting his band together and making the record he wants to make, recording the songs as best they can in the studio and putting it out on Juxtaposition Records, which does exist. So you have to listen to it and think about what this poor man has gone through to create all these songs and commit them to vinyl for your listening pleasure.

Q: Do you essentially become David Brent when you’re writing the songs?

A: Yes but only in the same way I become Brent when I’m writing The Office or this movie. But yes. It’s difficult because I can’t sing like David Brent because when you sing you just sing. You just try your best. Some things are a little bit affected, sometimes he wants to be like the Rolling Stones and he’s a bit of a magpie, moving from one thing to another. But yeah this is David Brent’s album - it’s important people get that. And it’s David Brent’s Songbook, in which he’s written the intros to the songs.

But having said that, there’s nothing more fun than doing music. I genuinely think music is the greatest art form so even though this is ironic and I’ve got a get out of jail free card and even though it’s a spoof, or a fiction, honestly it was so good for the soul.

When we went into the studio, it took about 20 days to record the album, starting before and finishing after the film, but it was always my favourite day of the week… it was so good for the soul… just bouncing around, and there were no restrictions. I didn’t have to think, ‘Oh the NME might hate this’ because they’ve got to be in on the joke or they’ve missed it. And I could say things like, ‘Oh I want a big amp sound’, or ‘this has got to be sort of like Steve Vai on Beat It, or this one’s got to be like Neil Young’, I’d ask, ‘What guitar did they use, let’s get it in, and let’s get strings on this’… It was so much fun. It’s the biggest toy box in the world.

But as much fun as I was having, David Brent takes this deadly seriously. It might be a vanity project for him, but this is the greatest thing he’s ever done. He’s got an album now, a little album in his hands.

Q: And with the Songbook, now everyone can play Brent’s songs as well...

A: The good news is that because I’m such a limited musician myself, this is easy to play. They’re nearly all C, F, A-minor, G, nothing too hard. You’ll be able to play these songs even if you’d never played the guitar before. In fact if you buy one now, you’ll be able to play these songs within a couple of weeks! It is a real songbook, and it does work with all the notations, and lyrics but it is a funny comedy tie-in book as well. I don’t think it’s just going to be serious guitarists buying this book. [laughs]

Q: But imagine if someone went on on The X Factor and sang their version of Please Don’t Make Fun Of The Disableds?

A: Well then… Oh, that would be my dream come true, not just David Brent’s. In fact I was thinking that once the album has been out for a while, we could get famous people in to record their versions of his songs... deadly seriously.

Imagine if we got Adele to sing that song (Please Don’t Make Fun Of The Disableds), and Springsteen to sing Ooh La La for charity or something. When I hear one of these songs covered genuinely and without irony, that is Ricky’s dream come true!