Nick Heyward, singer–songwriter and former member of Haircut One Hundred chats with Kevin Cooper about his time spent in Haircut One Hundred, meeting Paul McCartney, the release of his new studio album and appearing at The Flashback Festival.
Nick Heyward is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for being the frontman of the early 1980’s band Haircut One Hundred and for his subsequent successful solo career.
Heyward and school friends Graham Jones and Les Nemes, the core of Haircut One Hundred, started bands together as far back as 1977. They were first known as Rugby, then the Boat Party, Captain Pennyworth and Moving England, before settling on Haircut One Hundred. The band signed with Arista Records in 1981 and had four UK Top 10 singles between 1981 and 1982. Their debut album, Pelican West (1982), was written by Heyward and reached number two in the album charts. It was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry and Heyward was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award for the Most Performed Song; Love Plus One in 1982.
Work on the band’s second album commenced in October 1982 but in January 1983, a statement was issued confirming that Heyward had left the band and percussionist Marc Fox had taken over on vocals. Heyward’s solo career went on to see him release singles Whistle Down The Wind, Take That Situation and Blue Hat For A Blue Day; all from his debut album, Whistle Down The Wind. Further albums included Postcards From Home, I Love You Avenue, Open Sesame Seed and The Lighthouse.
Whilst relaxing at home ahead of the Festival season, he took the time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Nick good evening how are you?
I’m very good Kevin how are you today?
I have to say that you have made me feel really old today.
Have I, oh good (laughter). I’m sure that I am older than you. I’m fifty four.
No you are a few years younger than me.
Really, bloody hell (laughter).
I was looking back through some old concert programmes this morning and I first saw you with Haircut One Hundred back in 1982 at The Manchester Apollo with The Bluebells supporting you.
(Laughter) that’s great, I remember that gig and I remember that tour really well.
I was surrounded by very young girls who were making one hell of a noise at the time (laughter).
I remember it well and yes it was a bit screamy wasn’t it (laughter). However I have to say that at that time the band were tight. The girls may have been screaming but as a band we were really on it.
So there you go, I will forgive you this time.
Oh good as I’m all for being forgiven (hysterical laughter).
Before we go on let me just take the time and thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
That’s alright Kevin, it’s good.
And just how is life treating you today?
At this moment in time life is good. All is nice and I have got all that I want because I am sitting in front of a roaring fire so basically I need no more. Hang on, thinking about it, just a few more logs would be good (laughter). It is really damp in this country. What has happened, why is it so damp (laughter).
I think that the weather simply gets worse every year.
It does doesn’t it (laughter). I get the fact that it rains every winter but the problem is that it happens every summer, every spring oh and every autumn too (laughter). It’s just fucking raining all the fucking time; what’s going on (laughter). What’s with all the fucking weather (laughter). Me and the family tried to escape the bad weather and so we lived in Florida for eight months and the weather on the whole was really good. However we went really south and spent some time in both Tampa and Key West and I have to say that I prefer Tampa because it was noticeably cooler than Key West. The States really does have a great climate.
I love the States because you can still find independent record shops who deal solely in vinyl especially in Clearwater.
I know Clearwater really well and you are right, there are quite a few record shops still trading down there. They are still music fans over there whereas it is a lot harder to find those sorts of places over here. I find that if you do find one over here they tend to be owned and run by people who are a bit snobby about it. We used to go to Clearwater practically every day. I love it because there is so much space and everyone is really friendly and laidback. It is totally the opposite and the perfect antidote to this country where people are generally edgy all the time. This country appears to be getting worse by the day it seems. Everyone is getting more pissed off. Over in the states there is no social awkwardness.
Now then back to business….
Yes that’s right, on the subject of social awkwardness let’s talk about these gigs. Thousands of us all feeling social awkwardness (laughter).
I was going to say that you recently toured with The 80’s Invasion, how did that go?
I have to be honest and say that I enjoyed the whole tour. I absolutely loved it because they were brilliant venues. They were far bigger venues than anything that I ever played with Haircut One Hundred. I first did a similar tour back in 2005 and as I don’t play in these sorts of places all of the time, when I do I absolutely love it because they are really good venues. For example, the one in Chattem is where David Bowie played his whole Ziggy Stardust thing. Most of the venues are really old rock venues as is The Opera House in Liverpool. You stand there and it hits you that you are actually playing a venue that The Beatles would have played; it just has this history about it.
Take the Playhouse in Edinburgh and all of these places where it all would have happened back in the day; I just love them. Also the sound quality is amazing, you are singing and it feels right not like the outdoor gigs where the sound goes off somewhere. I really enjoy it because you can play an old fashioned type of concert where you really connect with everyone, get everyone up out of their seats and lifting the roof off. I really went for it every night on the tour; I enjoyed every minute of it and I really did rock out. I absolutely love it.
You are coming up to see us here in Nottinghamshire on Saturday 20th August with the Flashback Festival. Are you looking forward to it?
Yes I am and I can promise you that I will be going for it a hundred percent. I just go flat-out and I really do like it. I have developed a bunch of the known songs which really do flow well together and I really do enjoy singing them.
A word of advice, just make sure that you bring your wellies with you.
I will, you just have too (laughter). It would be rare if I didn’t need my wellies but also lovely if I didn’t. However, I imagine that there is a fair chance that it will be soggy (laughter). I just remember performing during long dry periods in the summer but we just seem to go from one storm to another now.
The unfortunate thing is that the last time that I can remember long hot periods during the summer was when I was at school (laughter).
That’s very true round about 1977 probably (laughter).
The one that stands out in my memory was the summer of 1976. I was fortunate enough to spend ten weeks down in Weymouth and I have to say it was fantastic.
I remember that and yes you are correct, it was truly amazing. It was great because not only was it a really long hot summer, but there were no reports on climate change. We all thought that it was happening because it was happening (laughter). It was nice and you didn’t feel bad; you didn’t get that extra guilt trip of thinking it’s hot and as a human being I have totally fucked up the planet (laughter). Nowadays every time that it rains I think shit what have I done (laughter). Over in America they all say ‘I’m a Republican it’s got nothing to do with me’. Over in Florida and the USA it just seems to be business as usual; it’s just us poor fuckers here in the UK who appear to be affected by it all.
My theory is that it is someone upstairs that doesn’t like what Mr Cameron is doing to the UK.
(Laughter) well you do start to think don’t you, I mean could it be country karma? You feel like you want to Google how many countries aren’t at war whose climate hasn’t changed. It makes you wonder if Switzerland has their own amazing climate. They have not been affected by climate change at all (laughter).
Being serious for a moment and going back to the Flashback Festival. Is there anyone in particular that you are looking forward to seeing?
The one artist that stands out from the rest in my opinion is Paul Carrack. Many moons ago I toured with Squeeze for a while and Paul was playing the keyboards for them at the time. All that I can say is what an amazing voice. So he will definitely be somebody who’s set I will be watching. You have to remember that he also sang some of the best Squeeze songs and How Long from his days with Ace is such a wonderful song. Every once in a while I sit down and try to write a song like that; I truly do love that song.
I recently spoke to Clive The Doctor and he is really looking forward to seeing you again.
Bless him, that’s really lovely to hear. I finally got to meet Clive backstage at one of these concerts last year and he is such a nice guy. We were having a really great chat just before I was about to go onstage. He is a really lovely chap.
I keep pulling his leg about his collection of coats which really do appear to be falling apart at the seams at the minute.
(Hysterical laughter) poor old Clive (laughter).
Billy Ocean is also performing which is something good to look forward to.
Yes he is and I have to say that in my opinion Billy is going from strength to strength really.
In fact looking at the line-up there is something there for everybody I think.
It’s funny because some of the guys, Billy Ocean for example, I actually do think that he is better and far more relaxed now whereas back in the day he looked like someone who wasn’t really enjoying it at the time, whereas now it is blindingly obvious that he is. There is now less tension and more enjoyment. I suppose that it is like that with the audiences now; they are just coming along and enjoying it.
Do you still get a buzz out of touring?
I can say yes to that because I have just got a buzz out of the touring. I really did enjoy getting up in the morning, programming the Sat Nav which is a new thing with touring because you don’t have a tour manager anymore, you just have a great Sat Nav (laughter). You just punch in the postcode and off you go and it takes you right to the backstage area. So that in itself has taken all of the tension out of touring and there is normally a Marks & Spencer’s along the way (laughter). You can always guarantee being able to pick up a couple of falafels (laughter). So my day was spent getting up, going and having some falafels, maybe getting a nice cup of coffee somewhere and then in the evening I would meet the guys for a lovely sound check at five o’clock every day. It is a really nice experience being able to play in an empty hall. And then two hours later the place is full, unless you are down south (laughter).
It seems that the people up north are more up for a tour such as this and they really know how to enjoy themselves. And then I get to play my songs and everybody is up for it. If they’re not then I just go for it anyway and then they come with me, it’s brilliant. I did really genuinely enjoy it. I thought that I would be too old for it but it really isn’t that bad. I think that I was too young for it all before. I didn’t have the experience to enjoy the stuff before. As a young man you wouldn’t have approved of using a Sat Nav or having to stop to get a falafel and all of that stuff (laughter). I just really do now enjoy every small detail of the day. Back in the day I would have hated going to the sound check but now I love it.
I have been looking on YouTube at a few clips of you playing live and you have slowed some of your numbers down and are now playing them in a blues style. Just what can we expect from you when you come up to Nottingham?
Well the good things is that I know the band and so it is like the record, so you just go for it. It is exactly like the record and you sing it. That’s what it is. And then on the day it is all down to enthusiasm. I try to keep it going and keep it flowing. Yes, I have slowed things down and played them in a bluesier, jazzier style but that tends to work better in smaller more intimate venues where the communication with the audience is important, especially if you haven’t got a band. So with these larger festivals it is a band and it sounds like the record. I try not to talk; sometimes that is tricky but it is far easier not to talk in an outdoor situation.
There is only a certain amount of time that people want to hear ‘how are you doing’ (laughter). They will probably hear it thirty times throughout the day from different people or ‘are you alright’ (laughter). I go to say it but I just can’t say it. I think that I have said it once in my entire career and I felt so depressed (hysterical laughter). I just thought ‘how very unoriginal Nick, just what is happening to you’ (laughter).
You recently announced that you would be releasing a new studio album. What stage are you at with that?
Well the current position with the album Kevin is that we have recorded everything and what we have to do now is mix everything. I am at that stage now where I have got a few prices from the people who I would like to mix the album and let me tell you it’s fucking expensive. I’ve got sixteen tracks so to mix all of them would mean me taking out a second mortgage and I don’t even have a mortgage (laughter) so I would have to get a first one. I don’t even have a house; I rent a cottage but that’s the way that I like it; that’s why I chose it but I do have a fire though (laughter). I have a fire and it is going and I also have some firelighters so I am happy.
But anyway back to the album. It’s at that stage where I have to decide do I crowd fund the rest of it to finish it off or do I wait for another cheque to come in (laughter). The decision is then do I spend the cheque on living or do I go for it. I have to say that I am really getting interested in this whole crowd funding thing because it is a way as an artist that you can remain independent. At first I wasn’t quite sure about the whole thing because it felt as though the magic had gone, but now I’m actually coming round to the idea. My good lady was part of crowd funding a film which we have just been to see and I can remember her years ago putting her $20 in. And now we are sitting in the cinema and we are watching it. That’s good; that is magic. So the position is that I have sixteen songs ready to mix.
I have to say that all of the artists who I have spoken to, with the exception of one, all say that crowd funding has been a fantastic experience.
Yes that’s right, I am hearing the same kind of thing. There are some people who didn’t like it because there was simply too much work for them to do; signing lots of things and stuff like that. You don’t have to do that but I feel that you can be a bit more creative with crowd funding I suppose. It’s not just about you signing lots of things, you can put on gigs for people together with lots of other things. You can make it more musician friendly. It doesn’t all have to be about merchandise; you as an artist can be more creative. I think that this is all very interesting to the more independent artist because the major label’s out there in the corporate world, if they are not interested in you, then they are not interested in you and that is that.
They don’t even show any interest in you even if you were selling millions of records. Just because they are not interested in you does not mean that you stop being creative. I can remember selling three hundred thousand records and being dropped by my label. I was over the moon thinking that all of those people had gone into a record shop and bought my record. The major labels are all now simply a business which is the way that the corporate world goes; it’s purely a business. That’s all that it is and that is why it probably doesn’t suit many artists. Some amazing artists are really patchy and that is how they work and how they come up with the great things. They have to create lots of many not so great things in order to be able to create that one really great thing.
I can’t speak to you without mentioning Haircut One Hundred were they good times, bad times or bits of both?
There were bits of both and lots of words in-between. There were lots of emotions such as amazing, exciting, thrilling, innocent, naive, confusing, heart-breaking; so many different things and I experienced them all in Haircut One Hundred in such a condensed period of time. All of us in the band had this intense relationship. The band started with three of us and then it became six so it literally doubled, it was like a Mini Cooper S that turned into a Mini Clubman; it felt bloated (laughter). It’s not because it is eating more, it’s because it looks stressed.
The last time that happened was on VH1 when they got everybody together and it hasn’t happened again since then. If it ever does happen again then I want it to be a six cylinder reunion. When it is the six of us, then it has just got it, it really has. I played a Christmas gig at the Cadogan Hall a few years ago now and four of us got back together for that one, and at that point I thought that it would develop into something where the whole six of us again would get back together and play regularly. I would still like that to happen but as there is no management involved it simply doesn’t happen. It gets talked about but it never gets continued which is strange because each of us individually do work and it is easy for us to do whatever we do.
We have played a few concerts where to be honest you are almost paying for the privilege of playing them. What you have to remember is that the six of us all coming together at our age to do something, it will costs us financially because we are not Duran Duran or The Rolling Stones. So if we get together and do anything it is done out of pure enthusiasm which is really good, but then reality sets in so it doesn’t get continued and then the enthusiasm goes. I reckon that all of us would want that really in our hearts but in reality I feel that it would probably take something like a VH1 programme to get it together practically. Nobody is throwing money at Haircut One Hundred to get back together. There hasn’t been anybody otherwise we would be together, playing together regularly and be out there doing it.
In order for it to happen in reality there needs to be a manager and an agent in place. I have often said that I had got gigs coming up, why don’t we play them as Haircut One Hundred or I’ve got some studio time why don’t we all get together in the studio, but for me to keep on doing that it really does quite quickly become a thankless task. You don’t want to be the person who gets it together and has to manage it either. So it just kind of works for a bit but really at the end of the day there needs to be in place proper structures for these things to happen. That has never happened because we split in 1982 and we have never managed to fully get back together since that time. I would love us to get back together and I’m sure that everybody else would possibly say the same, but I don’t know because I am not them. I have had chats individually with some of the guys and it seems that way. However, some of the guys get frustrated as we all do when it doesn’t happen.
There is lots of stuff to try and get over but I have always been up for it and I would be now and who knows what could happen in the future. However I can’t see myself in my 60’s singing Favourite Shirts (laughter). On the other hand I have to be realistic about these things and it may have gone past that now and I very well may simply move into jazz (laughter). Whenever you see Paul McCartney singing the youthful songs of The Beatles and stuff now, most of the time its okay but other times it is just not possible physically. Take The Specials for example, you can imagine the older guys singing Gangsters. They have gone from young skinheads in Crombie’s to old guys who look like bouncers and it suits them; it works. The wonderful thing is that nobody expects to see Terry (Hall) smiling or laughing, or to look young or to be slim; he can just be anything that he wants and its fine (laughter).
I was driving home from the studio the other night and I heard that Maurice White had died and they said that he was seventy-four years old. I thought yes, seventy-four is a nice age at what you could die. My parents died when they were younger than that. However, I then thought I’m fifty-four so that’s only twenty years away, and the last twenty years have gone really quickly, and I thought oh my god. I put my foot down thinking that I had got to get home and get on with my life (laughter). It’s a bit like that, I can’t imagine being seventy-four and still singing in the same kind of youthful way. However if I had been a crooner like Chet Baker or Tony Bennett then it would totally suit; it would sound the same at seventy-four as it did at twenty-two or whatever. It’s the same guy just a little older (laughter).
However, if you are looking like Pierce Brosnan then you want to be singing jazz (laughter). It’s like when you look at someone who is playing the keyboard singing electropop, you want to see that guy looking a bit more electropop don’t you (laughter). However, if they are looking like Pierce Brosnan then…(hysterical laughter). There are certain ages when it just isn’t possible and it just doesn’t suit. Had I have known this then I would have probably done a kind of Specials thing, but of course that’s mental to even think that way simply because I did what I did. I never thought that I would still be here singing this stuff. I could never have predicted that, and if I could have then I would have been extremely wealthy because I would have also predicted the property boom (laughter). I can’t remember sitting there thinking, I wonder how successful bananas will be in thirty years’ time. So I have never thought like an entrepreneur (hysterical laughter). I just think like an artists and think about poems.
I have listened to thousands of albums over many years now and I have to say that I have always thought that Pelican West was a fantastic debut album. Would you agree with that?
Yes, I totally agree with you Kevin, it is a real one off isn’t it.
And whilst on the subject of albums, is there anything left of the infamous second album to be released or did you use it all for your solo album North Of A Miracle and Haircut One Hundred’s Paint On Paint?
That is totally correct, there is nothing of any worth to be released now from the second album because as you say, I used some of the decent stuff on my solo album North Of A Miracle and Haircut One Hundred used some of it on their album Paint On Paint. I do know that there is a bootleg out there of the work in progress, which is made up of a few finished tracks such as Brookfield Girl and a track called Sunny Boy Sunny Girl, which was actually going to be the single instead of Love Plus One. They then had the idea of putting the track on the B side, but they didn’t, simply because it was too good. But then the band split up so it wasn’t actually seen anywhere. Because of that fact it suddenly became an infamous song of Haircut One Hundred’s. So that gets put out there on various bootlegs together with a few other things, and some backing tracks which really were a work in progress.
Who were your musical influences whist you were working with Haircut One Hundred?
Whilst we were working on the album I had been introduced to Geoff Emerick who is best known for his work with the Beatles on their albums Revolver, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles and Abbey Road. Then someone gave me a copy of Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom which Geoff had also produced and I couldn’t stop playing it. It was such an amazing album. I had got into The Beatles really late actually but when I finally got into them I got into them seriously around the time that Haircut One Hundred were recording Pelican West. Everyone has their album that they listen to on the coach when touring and Imperial Bedroom was my album.
At that time Les Nemes the bass player in the band was heavily into XTC, who I had introduced him to sometime earlier. So Les listened to XTC and jazz funk but in truth he was really into jazz funk and rock. So these are all of our influences on the tour and I was listening to The Beatles as I hadn’t discovered them before. They had always been around but I had never gone that heavily into the albums so you could say that I was having a Magical Mystery Tour (laughter). Therefore it was not strange for us to finish the tour and for me to be thinking which direction the band were going to go in. So for me to bump into Geoff Emerick was amazing.
What caused you to leave the band when you did?
After meeting Geoff Emerick I found myself spending more and more time at Air Studios with Geoff and also Sir George Martin. At that time Paul McCartney was making his Tug Of War album so I was doing stuff in between using Paul McCartney’s equipment and recording bits of vocals for Whistle Down The Wind. I wanted Haircut One Hundred to sound as loud as Imperial Bedroom. I didn’t think that we sounded as good as ABC but I didn’t want to work with Trevor Horn because ABC were already doing that. So it was down to the musical differences of the band and the fact that we were split musically. This was apparent in what transcribed later, which was the band sticking with Bob Sargent but moving to another record company and making the Paint On Paint album.
I stayed with Arista Records and started working with Geoff Emerick and recorded North Of A Miracle. I took a listen to the backing tracks which were essentially my songs but thought that I could do better so I wrote new ones such as Take That Situation. Plus I had songs such as Whistle Down The Wind which I had written long before there ever was a Haircut One Hundred. So in a nutshell that is how North Of A Miracle came to be recorded. With hindsight, which we all know is a wonderful thing, it always makes me smile whenever I think what would North Of A Miracle have been like had it been produced by Geoff Emerick and played by Haircut One Hundred. I have thoughts like that and I have to say that I honestly think that it would have been amazing.
Wouldn’t it have been amazing if we had just been able to communicate better, and had better management who were able to sort the mess out. However, that is simply not the way that it went. I feel that the whole situation with me leaving the band was simply down to the lack of communication. That is just the way that it went; it was fascinating.
On a lighter note, who was responsible for the Haircut One Hundred look?
(Hysterical laughter) an important look for Haircut One Hundred in my opinion was our first Top Of The Pops. Looking back I would have to say that the person responsible for our look was a guy called Brian Morrison who at that time was our publisher. Brian had signed The Jam and Haircut One Hundred, plus he was Pink Floyds publisher. Brian was a larger than life character who loved to smoke a cigar with his collar turned up. He wore big furry jackets, drove an Aston Martin, flew a helicopter and ran Prince Charles’ polo club (laughter). This was an amazing guy who had an office overlooking Hyde Park. Brian came down with us to our first Top Of The Pops and back then it was all filmed in a large room at the BBC. We would drive the van up to the back doors, get out, go in and that was it, that was the Top Of The Pops which you had watched as a kid (laughter).
It was amazing to see just ten people dancing around but the BBC were very clever and made it look like there were quite a few people there in the studio (laughter). They also had a dry ice machine which at best could only have been 7” x 10” and there it was, at the side of the stage covering us in smoke (hysterical laughter). They created a wonderful myth but the whole thing was just so naïve. Brian looked at the monitors in the studio, came up to us and because it was cold outside, it was November coming up to Christmas, we all had jumpers on and we were also wearing jumpers as scarves. Brian told us to keep the jumpers on. And so we all kept the jumpers on because it was freezing and we became known as the band with all the jumpers (laughter). So that was pretty much a lot of how Haircut One Hundred happened.
And tell me how you came up with the title Pelican West for your debut album?
(Hysterical laughter) I was working on the album sleeve and I had it as West Pelican for ages. A guy in the office took one look at it and said ‘I prefer it the other way round’ (laughter). I looked at it, laughed and thought why the hell didn’t I see that (laughter). I had always thought of it as West Pelican because it was West Pelican Wharf in Whopping up in London. So it’s little adjustments such as that which happened along the way. That was such a lovely thing that when I get around to writing a book, it is almost like crediting everyone for everything. It is all of those bits that go together to make up the story. If you look at The Pet Shop Boys I am sure that Neil Tennant didn’t do everything but he had the idea and he had the concept (laughter).
I’m sure that he would sit and write the lyrics and do stuff but it’s all about everything; it’s about the guy who said ‘I think that your next single should be West End Girls’. This is the stuff for in depth proper stories and I don’t think that has ever been done with Haircut One Hundred. I would just love to find those people and actually have an opportunity to talk to those people. I mean who is that guy; it was such a profound thing for him to say that he preferred it the other way round. Is he still with us; I don’t know. For me it is all about giving credit where credit is due. Someone may have done a very minor thing which is a bolt in the structure but it is also very much a part of it.
Sticking with that train of thought, where did the name Haircut One Hundred come from?
The name came like the lyrics out of my unconscious, my nowhere land where all creative people come out the same place, in fact where this conversation is coming from. They are just words which are already here in the English language which I have just plucked out and put them into a different arrangement. I was sitting in the kitchen with Graham (Jones) and Les (Nemes) and we were all coming out with names and I just shouted Haircut One Hundred, and we went with it that night. We took it along to The Three Tuns in Beckenham, Kent, simply because that is where we all used to hang out. We all loved the fact that David Bowie was known for playing at The Three Tuns; we thought that was great.
We drove over to the pub from London and started telling people that this was our new name and it got such a different reaction. We kept being asked why or some people would just look at us open mouthed (laughter). Some people were puzzled but generally it went down well. It just seem to stick and I have to say that even I think that it was better than Captain Pennyworth which was just a little too ridiculous, silly and not great (hysterical laughter). I think that it is a good name; it works just as Heaven 17 works as well. The Go-Betweens is a fantastic name for a pop band too. Having a good name is a good thing for a band. I have wanted to start bands but I have never managed to come up with a good name.
How did you feel when you found out that Love Plus One was on the soundtrack to the movie 7even?
(Laughter) I found out pretty much just before I was going to see the film and I was intrigued because I was sitting there and the film is basically a serial killer film and so I am sitting there thinking ‘I hope that someone is not having their head hacked off to my song’ (hysterical laughter). To be absolutely honest, I was thrilled that one of my songs had been chosen to feature in the movie. The truth of the matter is that I was absolutely thrilled because I can remember the times when receiving a royalty cheque was amazing, and they always seemed to come out of nowhere. I have never been in the big hitting league of writers; it’s not like I have written a Yesterday or anything like that, so I felt absolutely honoured that one of my songs was being used in the movie.
The good thing was that when I actually saw the scene in which the song was used it was a really nice moment in the movie. The two characters meet in a coffee bar and the song is playing in the background. I was so relieved that they both kept their heads (laughter).
What was the last record that made you cry?
Wow, back in 1998 there was a profound moment in my life when I heard for the very first time The Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler. I have to say that it stopped me in my tracks. Up to that point in time I had never been completely overwhelmed by a piece of music. I know that it wasn’t a pop record but it was a recording. I stopped, and started to listen to it and the more that I heard it, it seemed to me to be a reflection of everything that had happened to me in life up until that moment. The ending of the song was almost like the end of the wave as it crashes down onto the beach and then receding and simply leaving you there on the beach, just as though you are a piece of driftwood.
I personally know what it is like to be devoured by a wave and feel that power and then find myself on the sand lying flat out. The end just happened like that and I burst into tears. I know that it wasn’t a pop record but whilst I know that various pop records have moved me to tears I cannot recall any of them as being so profound as when I heard The Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler. It wiped me out completely and it was lovely because after that I felt totally transformed, which is the incredible thing about music; it can make you so sad and it can move you but it can also make you happy. Just like when Paul McCartney sings ‘take a sad song and make it better’ and songs certainly do reflect moments in your life.
If you had to pick just one event or moment, what would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
Wow, what is that, what is the highlight of my career? In the past I have done lots of stuff and thought that simply has to be the highlight of my career (laughter). All that I can say is that I must have had lost of highlights and I’m not talking hair wise (laughter). I know that this sounds strange but the last gig that I played up in Edinburgh was the last thing and I ended the set with Fantastic Day and I go like the clappers. It’s really weird and I don’t feel fifty-four at all so right now I would say that it was gig at The Edinburgh Playhouse. It was a really amazing moment; the type of moment that you simply don’t get when you are filling up the car with petrol (hysterical laughter). Also whenever I wake up in the mornings that is a fantastic feeling too as I think to myself fucking hell I’ve made it (laughter).
A few years ago now Paul McCartney looked straight into my eyes and said ‘you are the story teller’. I wanted to speak to him but I kind of melted (laughter). I just thought that you have got to be joking (laughter). Whenever I look at Paul McCartney all that I can see is this vast body of work and I think of that beard he grew and he just looks straight into the camera and sings ‘Hey Jude’ and that piano sound. When I first saw that I didn’t know who anyone was. When I first saw Paul McCartney on Top Of The Pops in the corner of my mums living room I could never envisage that years later I would be in the same room as him, let alone that he would know who I was. That was totally amazing and absolutely surreal. I never thought for one minute that would ever happen to me.
Is there anything left that you would like to achieve?
There is far too much to consider (laughter). I find it best not to consider anything and just let things happen. Being serious for a moment I would love to win a Grammy. I don’t know what for but it looks like a tremendous thing (hysterical laughter). So there you go, a Grammy is what I would like to achieve.
Out of your time with Haircut One Hundred together with your solo career what is your favourite song?
That’s easy Kevin it’s got to be Kite which I released back in 1993. What’s yours?
Mine has to be On A Sunday.
It’s funny that you say that and I’m not name dropping again but that was something that was said to me by Paul McCartney. It did have something about it and I thought that it was a good pop song.
Is there any chance of it finding its way onto the set list?
Yes, I really should put that in because it was a single.
If you say no then I’m not coming (laughter).
Yes I will put it in the set list, I promise to stick it in (laughter).
I will be shooting the gig up here in Nottingham. Are you still enjoying your photography?
Oh yes, very much so. I love it especially now days when everything is just so instant. I would love there to be an App for music in a similar way in which you could instantly share professional sounding albums. With my photography it is the instant sharing thing that I really do enjoy.
On that note Nick let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
No thank you. It’s been great Kevin, I have really enjoyed chatting to you. I look forward to seeing you in Nottingham. Bye for now.