September 4, 2003
Heís been praised by the likes of RADIOHEAD, COLDPLAY, and Nick Cave. Squib Central goes international as Josh Jabcuga talks with Richard Hawley about his solo albums, opening for U2 at Giants Stadium, and his involvement with Brit rockís mad genius, Jarvis Cocker of PULP.
The following interview was conduced on August 12, 2003
Joshua Jabcuga: Iíve heard a ton of descriptions for your sound from critics, everything from torch singer to twang. How would you describe your sound? Who are your personal influences?
Richard Hawley: I wouldnít be able to describe my sound. Iím afraid thatís your job. My influences are wide and varied like most writers. Mine I suppose are a little more off the beaten track. Artists like Sanford Clark, Santo and Johnny, Bob Lind, Tim Rose, a myriad of weird and wonderful oddball records too numerous to list Iíve gathered during my life.
I love the `50s a lot. I grew up listening to my dadís amazing record collection which gave me a great wide musical field of vision, from Pink Anderson to the Velvet Underground.
Joshua Jabcuga: Youíve received praise from the likes of Coldplay, Nick Cave, and Radiohead. Those are some killer endorsements. When you hear about those highly respected artists gushing over your work, do you ever feel intimidated, like this audience of extremely talented people is watching your every move?
Richard Hawley: I didnít know Nick Cave had even heard of me, although I worked with him on a Pulp track awhile back, nice bloke. However, no, I donít really get intimidated by it. I suppose now that you mention it, it would be easy to become nervy of releasing another record and all those people hating it, but that would be assuming that Iím an idiot. Iím far too old to give a fuck about being ďcool.Ē I just have to satisfy myself, then Iím happy. Everything else is a bonus.
Joshua Jabcuga: What were the reasons for dedicating Lowedges (his most recent, and critically acclaimed album) to the Motorcycle Action Group and the National Association for Bikers with Disabilities?
Richard Hawley: Sadly Iíve lost a lot of friends over the years to motorcycle accidents of one kind or another and nine times out of ten, theyíre the fault of a motorist which makes me very angry and sad. Maybe someone will visit the site and it might make them think.
Joshua Jabcuga: Can you elaborate on some of your history with Pulp? I know you were credited with some guitar work on their last album (We Love Life), and youíve toured with them, right?
Richard Hawley: *Cough* Right, here goes: Iíve known Mackey ( Steve Mackey, Pulp bassist) since I was about six. We both went to Hucklow Road School together. I met the rest of them when I was in another Sheffield band called Treebound Story in the `80s. So fast forward to my days in the Longpigs where we toured loads supporting Pulp. Fast forward again to í97 when Jarv (Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of Pulp) and Steve asked me to tour with them for about nine months. That turned into a five year association in which time I performed, wrote, toured, and did countless TV shows. It was a good time in my life and Iíll always be very humbly grateful to them for it.
Joshua Jabcuga: There was a photo of you and Jarvis Cocker in a recent Rolling Stone mag. Apparently the two of you are cooking up something very interesting. Can you spill some details? What type of sound can we expect, and will there be an official release?
Richard Hawley: Iím keeping silent Ďbout this one, sorry.
Joshua Jabcuga: Is Pulp simply on hiatus, or is the band completely over?
Richard Hawley: Difficult to say. Most bands take a lot of time between albums these days. I think if Jarvis hadnít said that they might not make another record together in the press then there wouldnít be any speculation. I hope they do decide to make another album and if they still need me, Iíll be there.
Joshua Jabcuga: Do you plan on touring the States in support of Lowedges?
Richard Hawley: No definite plans at the minute purely because itís so expensive to tour anywhere and my label is tighter than a mothís arsehole. But Iíd love to.
Joshua Jabcuga: Youíre putting out albums at a pretty good pace. I love not having to wait 3-4 years in between for a new release. Can fans expect about a release per year from you?
Richard Hawley: Iíd like to keep the creative process going and the WORST thing any writer can do to ensure stagnation is to stop recording and writing so I hope not to disappoint.
Joshua Jabcuga: Youíve played with Beth Orton and Robbie Williams, among others. Do you have any plans for a duet on the next album? Who would be your ideal duet partner, past or present?
Richard Hawley: Iíve not really thought about it to be honest, although Iíd love to do a duet with Phil Everly.
Joshua Jabcuga: Whatís the most memorable show youíve ever played? And the most memorable show youíve ever attended, as a fan?
Richard Hawley: I get asked this one a lot. Iíve been lucky enough to have played some great shows in my time. Supporting U2 at Giants Stadium in New York was one. Headlining Glastonbury with Pulp probably pips all others to the post. My last solo gig in my hometown, Sheffield, was a good one. Itís a tough town to play. The audiences are hard and unforgiving sometimes, but I found it very touching that so many people liked what I do that night.
Last night I played the De Monfort festival along with Emmylou Harris and Steve Earl and Ian McCulloch in Leicester in England and that was great. I got up with Ian for his encores. One of the tracks was a cover of ďIím waiting for the manĒ by the Velvet Underground and I got a chance to let rip with my guitar, which was a good laugh. I saw Tim Rose play in a tiny pub in Sheffield which was amazing. Lee Hazlewood played in London recently and I enjoyed that very much.
Joshua Jabcuga: What are your top five favorite albums of all time, the ones you simply cannot live without?
Richard Hawley: The Everly brothers, ďGone Gone Gone.Ē The fantastic expedition of Dillard and Clark, ďDoug Dillard and Gene Clark.Ē Elvis, ďthe Sun Sessions.Ē Bob Lind, ďDonít be concerned.Ē The Velvet Underground, ďVelvet Underground.Ē
Joshua Jabcuga: Thanks Richard!
Richard Hawley: Thanks for taking an interest and hello to all your readers.
Selected Press Quotes for lowedges:
"...like mid 70's Walker Brothers produced by Phil Spector...his songs are an unabashed cry from the heart - in their swoonsome company, you'll find it hard not to surrender yours..." (Mojo)
"...it firmly pitches Hawley as one of the most distinctive of contemporary British singers, already a contender for one of the albums of 2003..." (NME)
"...another masterstroke of timeless torch & twang...it confirms Hawley as a balladeer of the highest order, if he moved in next door (to you), your lawn might cry..." (Q)
"...a haunting air of regret hangs over each country tinged waltz, as jaded love battles with eternal hope in the quest for love...the shy simplicity and devastating finality are pure Hawley & Hawley alone..." (The Guardian)
"...really lifts you from the humdrum of average 2003 indie rock...beautiful, easy going music, peppered with earthy lyrics, evocative and effortless in it's ability to please...wonderful..." (Time Out)
"...American sourced Yorkshire based love songs that thrum with a peculiarly domestic wistfulness...wonderfully old sounding songs (that) sprint ahead of most other British singer-songwriters ...lovely..." (The Observer)
"...the most brazenly emotional and heart warming pop album made by a Briton this side of the millennium...no hint of post-modern irony here : this is music with it's heart on it's sleeve..." (Daily Telegraph)
"...he sings with the same sort of lazy baritone as Lambchop's Kurt Wagner, his sublime arrangements are ripe with moody romanticism...the end result is gorgeously impressionistic..." (The Times)
"...sublime countryish balladeering, of a Roy Orbison meets Mark Lanegan kind, sounds both world weary and, simultaneously, aglow with a renewed sense of what's really important in life...kitchen sink tales for starry eyed romantics..another warm, honest triumph..." (ID Magazine)
"...a quiet marvel...starry eyed balladeering...unafraid of non-ironic crooning or tender romanticism...his voice alone could make itemised phone bills sound like magic realist poetry..." (X-Ray Magazine)
" ...he's delivered the assured collection he's always promised...the arrangements are sublime...the whole coheres like one seamless, impressionistic mood piece...(this) should banish all those lazy, grimy Northern journalistic metaphors forever..." (Uncut)
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