- April 16, 2018
After riding high in the charts in the 1980s, both as a solo artists and as frontman for hitmakers Haircut 100, has continued songwriting and is back in the charts with his new album Woodland Echoes. He speaks with Victoria Nangle about writing, recording, and the old days.
Hi Nick, how is your day going?
It’s good, thanks. I was up early and slept well, which is an absolute delight.
I heard your set at this year’s Great Escape and you captivated the room. How do you feel about a return to touring and live performances after chiefly concentrating on recording?
I feel better and better about it the more I do it and I’m more prepared for it nowadays. It’s taken a lot of work – self-hypnosis helps me reach my full potential on stage and not beat myself up about it if I don’t. It really is about doing my best at the time. I used to have a voice that criticised me as I was singing. That voice has been removed from my mind and the building and the country and the world and the universe. It’s gone for good.
What made you decide to tour this album, after releasing two albums without the live accompaniment?
I wanted to do things properly and make it more enjoyable. I have a great band and I love working with them. They are: Andy Treacey, drums; Ryan Robinson, guitar; Anthony Clark, keyboards; Phil Taylor, bass; Rob Digweed, sax. And also being on tour with my son who is doing the sound. And my partner, Sara, who helps run Gladsome Hawk. All in all, it’s a lovely bunch of people and an absolute joy to work with everyone.
And why decide to start the tour in Brighton?
I can’t take credit for that one. You’d have ask my agent. But I’m glad it is Brighton.
The tracks felt so articulate, moving, and embracing. Was there a place or location you had in mind when you were writing Woodland Echoes?
Thank you. I didn’t have anywhere in mind so much, as I was writing and recording in the locations. It was mostly in spare rooms I was renting. So, the opening track ‘Love is the Key by the Sea’ for instance was written in the summer at the furthest point from the sea in a village called Stoke Row. So, the landscape seeped into the music, especially when I had the window open when it literally did in the case of ‘Beautiful Morning’ which captured the early dawn chorus of a beautiful summer’s day.
Self-hypnosis helps me reach my full potential on stage and not beat myself up about it if I don’t
You mentioned at the time that the album had a journey flow through its track listings. What is the most significant change over the years that has moved you from writing singles to albums as standalone?
I’ve always written albums and there’s been singles from them. I must say the only time I got stuck was trying to write singles was when I was recording From Monday to Sunday, and that’s where ‘Kite’ came from. It was the frustration of trying to write a single. When I stopped trying ‘Kite’ appeared and was picked as a single. My idea of a single probably isn’t a single, but my single picks on Woodland Echoes are ‘Who?’, ‘Love is the Key by the Sea’, ‘I Can See Her’, and ‘The Stars’. None of which have been single… yet. I’d like to release all the songs as singles because I feel all the songs reached their full potential, even the instrumental.
Congratulations on Woodland Echoes entering the independent charts at number 4. With critical and commercial success over the year, whose acclaim is important to you and why?
All the acclaim that I’ve got for this album is important. So, when people hear the album and they’re affected by it and are brave enough to share that with me on social media. That’s something that’s not been there in the music world, so there’s more appreciation going around these days, which keeps the independent artist alive and kicking. I’m sure it’s inspiring lots of people out there. The more encouragement
At The Great Escape there were requests for ‘Blue Hat For A Blue Day’ and ‘Favourite Shirts’ – the second of which you kindly played. What is your relationship with your own back catalogue?
I feel I have a healthy relationship with my back catalogue. We’ve been through times when we’ve needed space. But now they are good old friends to hang out with and I enjoy their company immensely.
Do you have a favourite track you like to play for yourself?
‘Fantastic Day’ because it’s what I learned to play and sing on in my bedroom. So, I have great affection for it, it’s like going right back to the beginning. It’s the lavender pod I trod on in the punk days.
In 40 years’ time, what would you most like to be remembered for?
Professionally, for my songs to be remembered more than I am. And personally, as somebody who didn’t want anything from anyone.
Nick Heyward, Concorde2, Thursday 24 May, 7.30pm, £22.50