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NICK HEYWARD (HAIRCUT 100) INTERVIEW [2009]

I WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOW IN LONDON AND YOUR NEXT SOLO ALBUM, BUT SINCE WE SET THIS UP YOU'VE GONE AND REFORMED HAIRCUT 100 HAVEN'T YOU?

Well yeah, it's lovely to back in touch with Graham and Les - we were kind of the founding members in the very early days - and so we're just been recounting memories by being Facebook friends. I mean that's why it has all come about, because of Facebook! We just became Facebook friends and then, well I'm doing this London date... I just booked it last Christmas when I was walking around Sloane Square in the snow, I was thinking about the venue round there that everyone keeps going on about that is supposed to be so lovely. I was doing a date with Roddy Frame at a similar venue in January and when I wandered into the Cadogan Hall and found that he was playing there, I thought how much I'd like to play this place, this perfect venue. Then I played that show with Roddy, and it was really lovely to see him after all this time, and he was saying what a great venue Cadogan Hall was... then I was talking to someone about the whole thing and they just phoned up and booked it for me!

But to go back to the original question, we got to that point and we were all friends on Facebook and we just said why don't we play as a band, and these things have a kind of snowball effect and that's how it happened... it all just came together very naturally.

WERE YOU IN TOUCH WITH THE REST OF THE BAND BEFORE YOU GOT TOGETHER ON FACEBOOK?

Well yes, but it's quite difficult... it's not as easy as it is on Facebook - and I know this is starting to sound like a Facebook promotion! - but it could have been MySpace or any of those things... if you've not been in touch for a few years you kind of don't know where to start, and if you send one you might not get one back, because people are busy. But if you're friends on Facebook you just sort of watch people's lives, Les pottering around in his garden in Spain, that sort of thing. But on an email or something you don't see that, I'm not really part of his life in that way, but becoming Facebook friends makes you feel like you're catching up just by being part of their lives today. Although we have got together before we didn't keep up the contact so we never quite got around to talking about doing more things.

I mean there haven't been many reunions but we've done a few and normally because they are organised by big organisations like VH-1 or someone, and they are so good at that sort of thing! But VH-1 don't keep you together after that event, and we never managed to do it ourselves either. We never had a manager in the heyday of the band, we didn't really have any sort of organisation, and we just kind of fell apart really. We've just stayed fallen apart ever since. So to have this kind of tool for management, Facebook, means we can kind of keep together ourselves.

YOU'RE A VERY PROLIFIC USER OF FACEBOOK AREN'T YOU? YOU UPDATE YOUR STATUS A LOT...

(laughs) Well... I suppose it is a bit of hobby really! Ever since MySpace started I have really loved this way of keeping in touch with friends, and with people who have loved the music you've done... that's something else I didn't really have, just like I wasn't really in touch with my friends from the band I wasn't really in touch with the people who buy my records and enjoy my music either, so now to be in touch with them is just delightful! In the past the record companies kind of kept those two elements apart - artists and audiences - but now it's possible for those people to just be friends and it's delightful.

IT IS BRILLIANT ISN'T IT? I LOVE THAT TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN SO EMPOWERING FOR ARTISTS, THE WAY THAT IF YOU WANT TO DO SO YOU CAN JUST SIDE-STEP THE RECORD LABELS AND DO EVERYTHING ENTIRELY ON YOUR OWN TERMS...

Yes! And it's happening to structures all over the world, they're just falling apart and now it's all coming back to us naturally and I love it!

DO YOU THINK THAT YOU'LL GO ALONG THAT ROUTE? RELEASE YOUR NEW MATERIAL YOURSELF AND SIDE-STEP THE INDUSTRY STRUCTURE?

Yeah, because it's very simple and very clear... if you were a painter you would have people who liked your paintings, so you painted them and those people could look at them and like them and maybe want one, and it's exactly the same with music, all the middle people are suddenly just not there anymore and there's something really lovely about that, like a direct connection, and it's fabulous.

HOW'S YOUR NEW SOLO ALBUM COMING ON? IT'S BEEN IN THE PIPELINE FOR A LONG, LONG TIME? HOW'S THAT ALL GOING?

Yeah, I can't really believe it, I have been the most creative over the last ten years than I have ever been and I have so many songs... it was a bit like I started to drown in them and every time I went to make something or record something there was just too much stuff. It was all clogged up and I just didn't know where to start, I just wasn't able to start... it was like I was impoverished in my own abundance. There was a pile of songs in my head that were just there and when I went to record something there were about twenty songs haunting me, just stuck in my head, and then there was another two thousand on cassettes all around the house. It was ridiculous, so I came to the point when I said right, that's it, I'm giving up music, giving up being a songwriter and of course that was the key, deciding to stop was just what I needed to get started!

I found myself a keyboard program on the computer and just recorded the latest ghost in my head. I just started enjoying the process of songwriting and I had this keyboard and I suddenly had this thing semi-recorded, and I liked that because it was so quick. I put a title on it and filed it. It's not hidden away in my mind any more, it's not hidden away on a cassette any more, it's there on the screen and it's somehow tangible... it's kind of closer to coming out, because that file can then be uploaded or downloaded. It was brilliant. I know it's very obvious but it really did open up the floodgates. Then I did another one, and another one, and all of a sudden I had ten, and these were just initial ideas that had been lingering around my head and aren't there now - they kind of cleared the way for this stuff to come out. I had ten that have just been hanging around in my mind that I'd definitely like to record, and I've found another ten since, so that's twenty songs that I want to record. So now it's time for the process of recording them and that's what I'm doing at the moment with my son Oliver.

DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHEN THOSE RECORDINGS MIGHT SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY?

Well I think the reason that this whole process has happened is that I gave myself a deadline. I just decided one day that I would have an album to be made available at the Cadogan Hall in December! So I have said that and that would be a great thing to happen - and it is happening at the moment - but working with your son means there's a lot of chatting that goes on when we're working, so we've got to speed up a bit!

ARE YOU WORKING ON ANYTHING ELSE AT THE MOMENT? IS THERE ANYTHING COMING UP FOR YOU?

Well I'm playing with Howard Jones later in the year and I love playing with him, what a lovely man and what lovely people he has working with him so that will be a joy... Apart from that I'm recording with Oliver and just concentrating on Cadogan Hall really.

SO IS THAT SHOW STILL A NICK HEYWARD SHOW OR IS IT NOW A HAIRCUT 100 SHOW?

Well actually I wouldn't mind supporting them, I mean I do those songs at the end of any show I do because I kind of have to but to play them with the band again has always been my dream, so that's going to be like a dream come true, the best Christmas present ever! I've never really liked playing those songs without the band, I've always tried to do acoustic versions or something, but when you play them with the band it just all fits because they are band songs. Like at the VH-1 show in Islington... that was real joy up there. No disrespect to the people I have played those songs with along the way, but when it's played by us... wow!

DO YOU HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF THE HAIRCUT 100 DAYS?

Oh yeah. I mean the human mind has this wonderful way of deleting all the bad bits and it's definitely been enough time to delete them! I think I enjoyed everything now, even the strange times like bad flights to odd places have now become quite comical, but yes, all fond memories.

ARE YOU PLANNING TO LINE-UP ANYTHING ELSE FOR THAT CHRISTMAS SHOW? SPECIAL GUESTS, THAT SORT OF THING?

Not yet really, but things are just starting to fall into place, but I do know that it is going to be a really lovely evening. I know that Graham is very keen on doing some of the really early songs; Les wants to do some really funky things... that's just the nature of the band, all of those influences coming together.

ARE THERE PLANS FOR THE REFORMED BAND TO RECORD TOO? HAVE YOU HAD ANY DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THAT AT ALL?

I think... it seems to just be happening organically and it's being led by all the guys involved and right now we're just happy to be catching up with each other. Knowing that we haven't been able to keep together before, that is quite something. So we're not promising each other anything but it would be so lovely to keep it together. I think with the way things are it's got more of chance of keeping it together than before, it feels like that because there's no-one pushing for it to happen, there's no-one behind it if you know what I mean? It's falling together naturally! But this is for Christmas and who knows what might happen after Christmas...

AUGUST 2009

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