When Nutini was a teenager, he realized music was a good way to garner the attention of women. He would lose the talent shows, but get the girl. "Through singing songs in school, all of a sudden girls that wouldn't piss on me if I was on fire, were giving me the time of day," he told Hot Press. "I thought, 'Oh, here we go.'"
Nutini's big break came from being at the right place at the right time. He attended the homecoming concert in Paisley for David Sneddon, who was the 2002 winner of the BBC television show, Fame Academy
. When Sneddon arrived late because of a delayed flight, the DJ tried to fill time with a pop quiz. After Nutini raised his hand to answer a question, he was forced onstage to perform an impromptu karaoke version of "Your Song
" by Elton John. He told The Big Issue
about reluctantly singing the tune, "My head kinda hit the ground. And my girlfriend says, 'Just go and do it, you'll be brilliant.' You had to sing over the record, not just a backing track, so I was harmonising to it and stuff, trying to find a spot."
It is a good thing that Nutini listened to his girlfriend because in the audience was Brendan Moon (who at the time was the head of radio promotion for the record label, Mercury.) Moon approached Nutini after the show and soon after became his manager.
Nutini dropped out of high school when he was 16 years old to become a roadie for the Scottish band, Speedway. His manager, Brendan Moon, had introduced him to Speedway's drummer, Jim Duguid, and the two began writing and recording demos together. Nutini's role as "roadie" started with him setting up their drums, loading in and loading out, selling T-shirts, and promoting on the internet. Eventually it led to him opening up for Speedway - Nutini would play an acoustic set before they performed.
When Nutini first began writing songs, he needed an instrument to help him figure out the melodies forming in his head. He credits Damien Rice as the person who inspired him to learn how to play the guitar. After discovering Rice's debut album O, he taught himself to play the guitar to it, discovering that he could play it with just four or five chords. Nutini later got a chance to meet Rice and thank him.
When Nutini was 17, his mother had to sign a song publishing deal for him because he was too young to sign a contract himself. He moved to London and lived off of his publishing advance while trying to get a record deal.
Six months after moving to London, Nutini signed with Atlantic Records. The legendary founder, Ahmet Ertegun, noticed right away the potential in Nutini and even called him "the most promising young artist we've had in the past few years," and insisted that he be given complete artistic control. Nutini spoke to The Big Issue about missing Ertegun once he passed away in 2006, "Man, what I would have given to have been around in his youth and to have known him then. Artists need somebody like him to protect them from the monsters out there, from the sharks who take pride in being able to manipulate. And, Christ, I was one of those people."
He worked with various producers on These Streets, including Robbie Williams' producer Guy Chambers. Nutini and Chambers did not get on, however. "I wanted to get the hell out of there as soon as I could," Paolo said.
After the enormous success of These Streets
, Nutini was asked by The Rolling Stones to open up for them in Austria and Britain. He also got to perform "Love In Vain
" with them at the Isle of Wight festival in 2007. Nutini has fond memories of that time, recalling a surreal rehearsal with The Stones in an empty Travelodge room before the concert.
Nutini parted ways with his co-writer and the musical director of his band Jim Duguid, which led him to begin self-producing his sophomore album released in 2009, Sunny Side Up. Experienced producer Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams) was eventually brought in to help finish the record, which Nutini didn't appreciate. He expressed his frustration about the music industry to The Telegraph. "Now there's all these politics creeping in about production credits and whose name goes first," Nutini said. "Charts and learning the politics behind making a record – it's pretty soulless."
Nutini took a five-year break between the release of Sunny Side Up and his third album, Caustic Love, which was released in April 2014. The success of his second record left him feeling burned out and debating about whether he wanted to create music anymore. He pursued other passions such as carpentry, photography, art, learning about surviving in the outdoors, and travelled to all the places he never had time to explore while touring.
His third album Caustic Love was recorded in different locations throughout the world, including Glasgow, Dublin, Valencia, and Los Angeles because Nutini spent a great deal of time traveling.