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You are in: South Yorkshire > Entertainment > Music > Interviews > Hawley: Sheffield through and through

Richard Hawley (c) Anton Corbijn

Hawley: Sheffield through and through

Jane Kitson caught-up with Richard Hawley just after he released his much acclaimed album Coles Corner - Janee talks to the singer/songwriter about his native Sheffield and his musical heritage...

:: September 2005

Hawley played his first gig at the tender age of 12. Ok it was a family wedding but only two years after found himself on a tour of Europe.

Soon after Richard tasted fame with Treebound Story in the '80s gaining recognition from the late great John Peel. Jane Kitson caught up with the Pitsmoor lad...

Everything you write and release has such a strong connection back to Sheffield, does that include the language?

Yeah, I mean I don't sing it in a Sheffield accent because I think that'd be bad, quite naff, so I just sing it in my voice. But I always like to have something in there that's got something to do with Sheffield 'cause I think Sheffield's a really romantic place.

Lots of it is rubbish but it's the people that count - Sheffield people have a great sense of humour, and doing all the travelling that I do, I really like the fact that I'm from Sheffield and can come back and be humbled very quickly by a little old bloke or something [laughs].

So why have you never moved to say London?

Well that was never gonna happen in a million years... 'cause it's rubbish, it's really rubbish. It's somewhere I have to go to work and do stuff - I've got a lot of friends that live in London but I don't like what it does to people.

A lot of people become quite cold and hard down there and it's quite a soulless place. I've a lot of friends over the years that have got lost there but it just never appealed to me, that whole being successful swimming pool in LA nonsense - you can't get Henderson's Relish for a start!

Although I must say since I've been banging on about Hendo's all this time I think there's about ten or eleven delis that sell it.

I was born in Pitsmoor in a terraced house and I still live in a terraced house with my family - and as far as I'm concerned as a kid from Pitsmoor with not a very good start in life, not a very good education, no money, I didn't come from a rich background but I've got a house, a happy wife and kids, that to me is success. I ain't got the swimming pool but I don't want one.

"I accept what I do is musically on the fringes of what's happening, it's not thrashy indie music and it isn't fall to the floor pedal to the metal"

Richard Hawley

What would you have?

Lots of guitars - I've got loads already, I think the only thing I'd like which is nice is a bit of garden!

I can't see you as a gardener somehow...

As we were on our way back from holiday one time from Cornwall we went to see some
friends in Gloucester and they'd got a massive garden. I put some wellies on and dug a vegetable patch and the kids and me were planting radishes and carrots and that and they're still growing now...

Now we go back a long way and it's strange to me to see people taking so long to catch up with your music - what's it like for you to have so much media coverage with this album?

Well it can't be anything but good, I accept that what I do is musically on the fringes of what's happening, it's not thrashy indie music and it isn't fall to the floor pedal to the metal garage or whatever, but I think people get it eventually.

There isn't really that much mellow stuff out there really - it's so fast, the modern world, everything's so fast, mobiles, computers and I don't like to be that fast, it does my head in.

Isn't that a Sheffield thing though?

Well I suppose, apart from Division Street on a Friday night, that's full pelt that, what's that all about? It's the northern thing that gets me though, when you're out on a Saturday night and it's the middle of winter, it's like three below and you've got somebody in a pair of pants [laughs].

Richard Hawley (c) Anton Corbijn

Hawley loves the Sheffield people

I've never understood that. Alcohol reduces your body temperature so it's actually quite dangerous... you need to be careful kids!

So do you always work with Sheffield producers and people even if they're not in Sheffield anymore?

I had a producer who shall remain nameless that Mute Records sent up and he was a right tool, complete and utter tool and I was playing my lap steel guitar and he says, "sounds right good that laptop don't it? It's a bit jazzy." It was a nightmare, they wanted me to work with him and I refused point blank - over my dead body.

I don't need to go to other cities, I produce my own records with Colin Elliot who's a brilliant musician, a great friend and fantastic string arranger as well, there's Andy Cook on drums who's a lovely fella, great drummer and John who plays keyboards who's the new fella.

I had Simon Stafford before who was with The Longpigs and last but not least it's Shez Sheridan, one of the best musicians I've ever worked with, phenomenal guitarist and they're all like my best mates and I've known them 20 years and I'm happier making music with them.

As a solo artist it gets quite lonely sometimes, I do a lot of interviews on my own but I don't need anything else, Yellow Arch Studios is a fantastic place to record - but I've been recording since I was 17, so a long time ago, and Yellow Arch is like being in somebody's front room.

I don't like big studios, it's like being on the deck of the Starship Enterprise and it does my head in and I wasn't relaxed and I always am at Yellow Arch so why go anywhere else?

last updated: 29/10/2008 at 09:58
created: 17/09/2005

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