Legendary Inspiral Carpets frontman Tom Hingley is set to tour in May, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of seminal album Revenge of the Goldfish. With a stop at Leeds’s Belgrave Music Hall on 25 May, we thought we’d take the opportunity for a Q & A, finding out about the tour, Madchester and the challenges of turning up for gigs.
By Jane Howkins
It’s 25 years since Revenge of the Goldfish was released. How does that feel? Did you ever expect it to be received in such a big way?
We did expect Revenge of the Goldfish to make a big splash – sorry – when it was released 25 years ago, because it was a sort of comeback album, our third. It came hot on the heels of the relatively uncommercial brooding second album, The Beast Inside, and after the single Dragging Me Down, which reached number 12 in the singles chart and was the highest chart single we ever had. The closest other single being This is How It Feels, which got to number 14. Revenge of the Goldfish is a pop album, a bit of a return to form. It’s my favourite album, partly because I got to write more songs on it. Musically we were returning to a more pop genre, but exploring the wider sounds available in a good studio – Parr Street in Liverpool – and working with an amazing producer Pascal Gabriel, who was in S Express and produced New Order and EMF and went on to write half of Dido’s No Angel album.
You’re doing a special anniversary tour, with a gig at the Belgrave Hall in Leeds on May 25th. Are you excited? Do you have anything special planned for the gig?
The special thing we have planned for the Leeds show is actually managing to turn up. Twice we’ve had to drive half way home to pick up an errant bend member, or a drum kit we forgot to pack. There’s always some drama but we will get there. I completely expect to get hugged by enormous Leeds United fans; for them to be completely over sentimental and genuine before, during and after the show; and to be harangued by strange women I’ve never met claiming that their legions of 20-year-old somethings are my progeny.
You’ve been releasing albums for almost thirty years now, both with Inspiral Carpets and solo. In the early ’90s, did you ever expect that you would still be writing music and performing in 2017?
Yes, I always knew I would still be composing. I will always be on a journey from one album release and song writing cycle to another, although I now write books as well – see Carpet Burns: My Life with Inspiral Carpets from 2012. I’m starting on a new book this year, due to be finished by 2020, and I’d like to write a poetry book too; I love nonsense poetry, Lewis Carroll, stuff like that.
Do you prefer working solo, or in a band. And how do the two compare?
Bands are good for the camaraderie, the craic and bouncing ideas around, and being taken down a peg or two. But solo has the advantage that you can only let yourself down on stage, so both of them have pros and cons.
Inspiral Carpets were obviously associated with the Madchester scene, especially at the time when you were in the band. What was it like to be a part of that when it was all kicking off?
The Madchester scene was a whirling dervish of fame, success, jokes, arguments, sex, love, shouting, making a living out of being collectively misunderstood, and creating a scene not following one. It was the biggest youth movement at that point since punk, and the waves it created – Oasis, Courteeners, Cabbage – are still apparent on the popular culture psyche.
You’ve been quite prolific over the years, having released a lot of EPs and albums. Are you working on anything at the moment and, if so, what can you tell us about it?
Polymath, I am. Currently I’m finishing a re-released solo acoustic album, Keep Britain Untidy from 2000, with a new single Nobody Said on it; an electric album to be released later this year called I Love My Job; a solo album, Hymns for The Hungry; and a live DVD of the Kar-pets playing the Inspiral Carpets hits, recorded at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester in 2016.
Speaking of the Kar-pets, you’re performing alongside them on tour. What are they like to perform with, and how did you meet?
The Kar-pets are young and cuddly, providing they are fed and watered. Great people, great conversation in the back of the tour bus; not always the best smells, though.
The two bands supporting you at the Leeds date are The Calls and Skull. Were you a fan of those bands before booking them? Do you have much of a hand in choosing support and, if so, how do you choose your support acts?
The Calls supported me when I was playing the Waterloo in Blackpool. They’re ace. I haven’t heard Skull yet but I’ve heard great things about them.
Why do you think people should come and see you live on this tour and what can people expect from a typical Tom Hingley gig?
People should attend our show just because of the sheer fear of my implied force of will and superior intelligence; my dashing youthful good looks; and because the Kar-pets are, by anyone’s standards, total fucking class, as witnessed by the 3000 punters who saw us rip the roof off The Shine On Weekender at Minehead Butlins head last year.
Tom Hingley plays at Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds on Thursday 25 May 2017.