Hugh Cornwell – Interview

Hugh Cornwell is set to appear at our very own Fibbers this month, so we decided to have a chat with him ahead of the date to whip up some excitement, and we’re happy to say we’re looking forward to the gig now even more than we were before! Read on below…

By Joe Todd

Good to see you touring with brand new material – I’ll be looking forward to seeing you in York! You must be looking forward to show-casing your latest album Monster?

Yes, it will be interesting to play some of the songs live for the first time. About half of the new album will be mixed with other songs from my solo albums in the first set of the evening. Then it’s Death By Stranglers in the second set.

I had the opportunity to witness some of your new material when you performed as special guest of Wilko Johnson on his recent tour, and you had a different line up. Are these musicians recommended or are they personally vetted?

A bit of both really. Windsor MacGilvray (drums) I found in a music college 15 years ago and we have played together for about 5 years. Then he went and did other things and has just come back. He recommended Pat Hughes (bass) and now we’re one small yet happy family.

After listening to a few tracks from Monster where the theme is based upon icons from recent history, it’s obvious that you have a fascination with celebrities – particularly from the Hollywood culture. Was this prompted by your recent project MRDEMILLEFM?

I wouldn’t say I was fascinated with celebrities, more with people who have had remarkable lives. MRDEMILLEFM is fuelled by my passion for the cinema, and a fair proportion of the shows on it are about the careers of people in the film business. But they’re not always from Hollywood. European and Asian cinema have their own remarkable people.

Do you have any advice for young bands who are starting out today?

Just stick to what you think is a true expression of what you’re about. Simple, really.

There must be a great sense of pride for a career spanning this long, is that true for you?

I’m constantly amazed that I’m still capable of doing it and able to find an audience that cares and is still interested.

You are very good at writing ‘catchy’ songs such. I believe I read that Pete Waterman once stated you were one of the best pop song writing talents. This has continued for a lot of years now – where do you keep getting your inspiration?

God only knows, as The Beach Boys said!

Do you prefer playing the live shows to the writing of the music? Could one exist without the other?

Unfortunately not. They are completely separate disciplines, but equally fascinating and enjoyable.

From your lyrics and live performances it’s obvious that you like the humour in word play, for example when I’ve seen you play in Leeds I’ve heard you use the phrase “all roads Rome to Leeds”. This is something you must have greatly appreciated in your recent tour/album with John Cooper-Clarke. Are there any other artists past or present that you would like to collaborate with?

Of course, but the list is far too great to begin on… I am planning a collaboration or two at the moment though.

Do you keep an ear out for contemporary music ? Is there anything that has recently caught your attention?

I am the last person to be asking about contemporary music. Does it exist any more?

With advances in music technology people are able to create music that is impossible to replicate live. Is this a concern, considering that most of the instruments played on “monster” were played by yourself?

You are right about technology, and that’s why when we put together Monster we were mindful that we would at some stage be performing it live.

Do you balance the fact that no musicians in the studio means that there are no arguments with the fact that more rehearsal time is required prior to recording?

That is absolutely spot on regarding more rehearsal time!. But less the case of ‘arguments’, more the case of getting to the desired recording quicker!