TOM HINGLEY INTERVIEW, ROB KELLY
Ok so what’s better than a quick chat with one of the leading lights of the “Madchester” scene, I’ll tell you what, a long ramble chat over a couple of hours. Much of which is unprintable some of it probably libellous, and some of which will appear in another longer blog in the near future.
I caught up with Inspiral Carpets vocalist Tom Hingley at the end of June as he was on his way to a gig in Barnsley, battling signal loss and drop outs we covered a fascinating range of topics, from music theory to the power and fickleness of the press, Dr Who, the Brexit, Blake’s Seven and the joys of balancing parenthood with the role of a gigging musician.
Tom was chipper and chatty having just got back from a holiday and he is a man of knowledge and very seriously held opinions much of which informs not only our conversation but also his artistic output. With a number of projects all running concurrently Tom is fired with the same passion he had all those years ago.
I began by asking Tom if he had ever been to Worthing
Yes we played a little club either end of last year or early this, it was a great night, just a small venue and of course my solo stuff not the Carpets
I reminded Tom that he had been to Sussex before and that the Inspiral carpets had recorded their 2nd album The Beast Inside in Horsham.
Mmmm that’s going back a bit, that would have been late 1990. At Ridge Far, great little studio, remember Queen recorded there.
Rk. Yeah and the Bunnymen, Prefab Sprout, Gabriel, it was a big deal recording there.
So you toured that album in 2012 on its 25 year anniversary and you are touring the “Revenge of the Goldfish” album 25 years on, which is what brings you to St. Paul’s
Yeah it’s a good album, strong songs.
Rk. You have someone like Dave Gedge constantly touring the 25th Anniversary of one of the Wedding Present albums and you are doing a similar thing with The Inspirals’ canon, given your relationship over the years with the band, what is your relationship with the music?
You always hear sit com actors saying if you have ever been associated with something that has ever been successful you should be very grateful for it. Not just in terms of career or in cold hard cash, I have a saying which is You should never stamp on enthusiasm wherever you find it, I am proud of the music I did with Inspirals, best days of my life and I don’t have a withering relationship with the music, it’s my music and I am very proud of it
Before I was in Inspiral Carpets I was in a band called Too Much Texas and I was compiling some old tracks and this old music acolyte call John Slater who was also an A&R man asked what you doing “comping up old tracks” he said that must be embarrassing and I said I have never been embarrassed by any music I have done at any point in my career.
I consider myself very lucky to have had the career I have had and proud of what we all achieved as a band.
Over time its other people who have the relationship with that music, when it’s out there it’s the listener who has the relationship
I have said it before, we don’t really own the band it’s the people who own the band, the audience, and the ones who got beaten up behind the bike-sheds for having our haircuts own the band
Rk so what was with the haircuts, was it the Ramones, the Beatles or the Byrds?
Hmm not really the haircuts are more like Peter Tork, you know last year we were wearing wigs on stage which we don’t do now and I suddenly realised that at least one Dr Who wore a wig and if Patrick Troughton could wear a Beatles haircut it was pop culture and if Dr Who can get into pop culture you cant blame bands for doing it.
The other thing about the Inspirals even before I was in them was, well, nowadays it wouldn’t be unusual to find kids who are into west coast psychedelic bands like the Seeds or the Chocolate Watch Band, you know but back in the 80’s it was quite odd actually for people from Oldham like, to be into west coast bands psychedelic bands the “Nuggets bands” coz, lets face it most people in Britain, most people in the north, most people in Oldham would have been into Bon Jovi and Guns and Roses at that time. So the people who got beaten up for having those haircuts, probably got beaten up for actually liking good music.
Manchester: was always at the cutting edge, and more accepting of out there bands like A Certain ratio, Joy Division, john Dowie.
Th. Yeah your right I think Noel (Gallagher) used that quote “standing on the shoulders of giants”
Going back to Dave Gedge: we had a little deal with rough trade in York, they (the Wedding Present) had just put out George Best and it sold 10,000 copies and we where amazed by that and then we put out our first album and it sold like 300,000 and then Noel and Oasis came along and blew everyone out of the water, so it was like baby steps really each band went much further than the band before. We did have mass appeal which is odd as we didn’t follow the trend; we created our own sub genre. But the record companies just want to take from you what is good and reproduce it, take your essences give it to their own signings and drop you.
Rk. Do you think it’s better now?
It’s the same, what ever the conditions, it’s all down to your passion, your enthusiasm, work ethic, sense of humour, and whether girls find you attractive, don’t let anyone tell you, punk music or Indi music isn’t pop music it’s all pop music. The Jesus and Mary chain however rejectionist they may have appeared to have been they still looked alright didn’t they”
Did you feel part of a “Madchester Scene” or did you feel on the outskirts
No not really there wasn’t a problem with that, its great to be associated with something that gets on the front cover of Time Out, we where more concerned with co-opting the journalists, I remember being interviewed by The Face by a journalist called John Mulvey, I remember and its true about all journalism that it has a polemic, an agenda, I’m not saying yours has, they are always trying to say its about something that its not, and I think it was John Mulvey who said “is it true you sold more T shirts than records? “ our manager at that time said YES and I knew that we should try to refute that and I knew that IT would get printed and would become forever after like our gravestone, but lets look at it we sold 1,000,000 records and if your lucky you might make 20p on a record, if you sell a million T shirts you can make £5 on a T shirt so if we had sold more t shirts than records I wouldn’t be here talking to you today.
So to answer your question, We didn’t mind being lumped in with Madchester thing because at the end of the day Stone Roses – fantastic, better looking than us, better music, Happy Mondays- sound like Can, big gang , the drug thing, who wouldn’t want to be associated with that scene. We all fed off each other, like the Inspirals used to do pub gigs with the Mondays and the Roses. Clint used to have this little rehearsal room where he recorded loads of people , and did a few tracks with Mani, just a little 4 track, and we all learned from one another,
But to go back to the T shirt thing, in the end our press agent was not promoting us and we knew there would be a backlash against us, but we started the backlash by sacking our press agent which is much more Malcolm McLaren,
The whole thing became watered down, the music industry down south couldn’t control us so they started their own thing and that’s where you get bands like Flowered up, Menswear…
So what can we expect from the gig at St Pauls, any solo stuff?
No I don’t do any solo stuff at these gigs, but we will play a few of the hits, the Revenge album, we are there to please we’re not Jackson Pollock, we will play songs from the album, and just like what the people want to hear really.
RK, you seem mega busy what else are you working on?
I have three big projects at the moment, a new electric album should be out autumn this year or spring next year if I can get it finished also working on a live DVD of Inspiral Carpets stuff called May contain nuts, the new album called I love my job. And TBU in an expanded version coming out, people really seemed to have connected with that stuff, no but its good, touring the solo stuff and the Inspiral stuff, keeping busy and loving what I am doing.
That seems a good point to finish this blog, we went on to chat for at least another hour, on record company ethics, politics, the Brexit, Dr Who, and incidentally Tom called the female Dr Who a month before it was announced, Blake’s Seven, way out art projects and the joys of being a father to four daughters, but that’s for another time.
What is clear is that Tom Hingley has a real love and passion for music; he is rightly proud of what he has achieved and makes sure that any performance maintains that standard.
Make sure you catch him at St Pauls, Worthing on August 11th. When they celebrate all that is Madchester with Bez from the Happy Mondays and Tom Hingley and the Kar-Pets