Richard Hawley's new album Lady's Bridge (read DiS' 8/10 review) is a bit of a corker, so we thought we'd catch up with the man behind it. Calls and arrangements are made, questions are prepared. DiS is excited, because on previous experience the man gives a cracking interview.
We meet a tired Hawley in a cafe in a park in deepest, darkest Sheffield (Hunter's Bar, to be precise) to chew the fat, and end up finding out a little bit about the new record, but a whole lot more about life. It's his seventeenth interview of the day, so excuse the coarse language...
Never forget your roots
Following the success of his Mercury nominated LP Coles Corner, Hawley could have had his pick of studios and locations to record the follow-up. He chose to keep it local, though, laying down Lady's Bridge in Sheffield's own Yellow Arch Studios.
"I wanted to bring the money back here, not all of a sudden fuck off to London. Why do I need London? I don't need it for 'owt. The record company's there and there are certain things you have to deal with in the music industry that are London-centric - but there's so much you can do at home without even leaving the house, nevermind going to London! I always want to record in Sheffield - I can't see any reason why I'd decide to go elsewhere."
Keep things simple
Some musicians like to spend ages on their records, ProTooling every instrument to within an inch of its life and all the while living in luxury. Not Hawley...
"They put you in some residential studio and it's like the deck of the Starship Enterprise. They've got no vibe to them. The last Longpigs album was recorded at Peter Gabriel's place, Real World Studios. I christened them unreal fucking Studios - you get people coming round going 'what do you want for your tea'! I just couldn't get my head round it. You could have lentils, falafel and whatever else. I only need a kettle and a microphone - do you know what I mean?"
Awards are meaningless
Hawley's Coles Corner was pipped to the post by Arctic Monkeys' debut LP for the Mercury Music Prize last year, but if you think he was upset about that... well, think again.
"Every fucking fibre in my body is glad I didn't win the Mercury Prize. I went down to the awards with my lass, sat on a table next to Arctic Monkeys - that were nice, like a little Sheffield enclave - but I kept saying to myself 'what the fuck am I doing here?!' It's not right. It's the celebrity world and I am not a celebrity - I'm a musician. That world makes me nervous, I don't feel comfortable there. It's just full of cunts, basically, and Sheffield isn't. I know where I'd rather be."
"I've seen this year's nominations, and I think Amy Winehouse's album is good but it'd be fucking brilliant if the 'Monkeys won it two years in a row. Awards though... what are they all about? It's too much attention for smaller artists to deal with, and they don't do anybody any good. They're arbitrary statements that have no intrinsic value to me. I don't wanna sound ungrateful, and I'm not saying they're crap... actually, yes I am. They're crap."
Jarvis was right: cunts are running the world
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the man who once described himself as "jurassic labour" isn't too impressed by our new PM...
"Gordon Brown's another wanker. Politicians these days have got no spine, they're all sat in the doctor's waiting room waiting for that spine operation. The smoking ban? I hate it. It's just a smoke screen! They want us to focus our attention on little things like that and not the bigger picture. I went in a night club recently and it stank of shit, B.O. and stale beer. Why the fuck would I pay to go somewhere like that, so I can stand there not having a great time and craving a fag?!"
Hawley's new single, 'Tonight The Streets Are Ours' was inspired by a documentary about ASBO's. Does he approve of them? What do you think?!
"I can't imagine antisocial behaviour orders being necessary when the steelworks were around - they gave people a reason for being. Are they going to have museums for call centres in twenty years time? I don't think so. Most of these kids won't be able to afford an iPod, let alone a fucking car. If you're a poor kid off an estate, but you're still being marketed all these things, you're just gonna take 'em. And I don't blame them!"
"I'm not condoning their behaviour, though - I was born in Pitsmoor in Sheffield, which was fucking rough, but I never stole 'owt. Me mates did, but I didn't; so although I don't condone it, I understand it. The politicians don't - it's a problem they just want to go away. They'd rather slap a piece of paper on it that says 'stay inside your house because you're a pain in the arse'."
"My grandfather wasn't well educated but he was a skilled craftsman, he could do amazing things with his hands. And he left school at eleven! But they don't need the workforce any more, it's all done in China for next to nothing - and that's immoral as well. They'd rather pay a sweatshop owner 2p for something than pay a skilled craftsman a quid. But don't get me started, son, or else I'll go on all day!"
Give credit where it's due
By this point you might be thinking Mr Hawley's a grumpy old so-and-so who hates everything. But you'd be wrong: he likes his label, and he likes his band...
"There's not many labels that'd let an artist have the freedom they've given me with this album considering the success of the last one. Mute have been great. But they know that nobody tells me what to do with my music - never. A camel is a horse designed by a committee - do you know what I mean?"
"I wanted Lady's Bridge to be a band orientated record. We've been touring together for two years and it seemed stupid for me to say 'ta ra lads' and go off on my own to write the entire record. Colin Elliot [bass player] deserves a lot of credit, he's the co-producer and arranges all the strings."
"It started off being called Richard Hawley because it was just me tinkering about in a room, but since then the lads have got a lot more involved. They're all really important, I try to give them credit when I can. But people don't seem to want to talk to them! I wish they would!! I don't think they'd be very happy about that, though - in fact I can guarantee it. In the studio, I'm still the fascist dictator but they're such great musicians it's usually pretty easy. Because we've worked together for so long they know what I won't like. So there's no funk guitar or fretless bass playing!"
Richard Hawley plays the following dates next month:
4 Brighton Dome
5 London Roundhouse
7 Birmingham Symphony Hall
8 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
9 Nottingham Rock City
10 Bristol Colston Hall
12 Sheffield City Hall
14 Edinburgh City Hall
16 Glasgow Queens Hall
17 Gateshead Sage
20 Bradford St George's Hall
21 Manchester Bridgewater Hall
23 Dublin Vicar Street