With his rocker’s togs, oily black quiff and gorgeous baritone, Sheffield’s crooning tragedian Richard Hawley might be seen as the male Amy Winehouse. He played and lost with Britpop-era guitar band The Long Pigs and then became part of the live line-up of Britpop’s best band Pulp. But Hawley should be best known for the rich sounds and composition of his solo albums, most recently 2012’s Standing at the Sky’s Edge.
Here’s what he’s learned from a lifetime in rock and roll…
“Protect your booze by any means”
“My late father was a steel worker, but he was also a musician. He would play with some legendary American musicians over doing gigs in Britain, people like Memphis Slim and Sonny Boy Williamson. Sonny Boy had a suitcase that contained just a bottle of whisky, a bowler hat and a Derringer pistol. To say thank you after the show he gave all the band a miniature bottle of whisky. He then got out his knob and wiped it all around the rim of his own big bottle of whisky. ‘Right,’ he said, ‘you got your shit and I know nobody’s going to mess with mine!’ You have to protect your booze by any means.”
“Football is like Harry Potter”
“Football is like the sorting hat in Harry Potter. You get what you’re given. I’m a [Sheffield] Wednesday fan, because I used to go with my granddad and my dad. You can’t just change your team because they’re crap. There’s something quite moral about that — you have to stick with some things even when there’s no hope whatsoever.”
“A good band can be like going to A&E”
“When I started playing with Pulp, I started enjoying playing music again. With The Long Pigs, it was the old story – we worked really hard and got nowt. Playing with Pulp was like arriving in hospital – somewhere where people are nice to you. I was playing with people I’d grown up with. Me and Steve [Mackey, Pulp bassist] have known each other since we were four. It made me think I still wanted to play music. A good band can be like A&E.”
“You don’t own a dog”
“I don’t think you ever own a dog. But I have two dogs, Fred and Alf – a collie and a springer. When I go to the pub with the dogs, it just seems like three old blokes sat in the corner – Rich, Fred and Alf. I don’t think they’re there with me. We’re just there together.”
“Don’t eat after nine o’clock”
“I favour the nine o’clock diet. If you’re drinking, don’t eat after nine o’clock – it’s the only way to avoid the bay-window in the belly area. When I mentioned the nine o’clock diet in my local, the landlady said, ‘What, 9am?’ My wife is a partial vegetarian – what I call a fish-and-chip-ocrite. But shitty corporate fast-food is a plague. I think the Tory government is happy with this crap because it puts so much pressure on the NHS. They can say it’s not working and that they have to sell it off… With drink, myself, I’m like a light switch. I’m either on or off. At the moment I’m off.”
Richard Hawley’s first three solo albums, Richard Hawley, Late Night Final and Lowedges, are out now on re-mastered vinyl and CD from Setanta Records.