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Nottingham Indie Pop All Dayer Headliner Luke Haines Talks Music

19 October 17 interview: Gav Squires

After headlining the Nottingham Indie Pop All Dayer, we sat down with Luke Haines to talk about his new his new career-spanning compilation, Gomez and kidnapping Princess Anne...

Luke Haines, headlining the Nottingham Indie Pop All Dayer

I asked Pete Dale this but we didn't really come to an answer - we're both old enough to remember when "indie" meant independent, having just played the Nottingham Indie Pop All Dayer, what does "indie" mean to you?
Well, I don't know if indie music means anything to me but the idea of independent spirit means quite a lot. I think that everything you do as an artist should be regardless of any controlling influences. That's what I think, the idea of independent labels doesn't mean anything to me but the idea of people and the idea of this kind of thing where Sam has put this on is a big deal, more people should do that.

With modern technology, do you think it's easier to follow that DIY ethos?
Yes, that's one of the better things about the internet, the problem is that are no gatekeepers so it means it's very hard to find your way through. But it does provide a voice for everyone, which is a great thing.

You've got a "best of" out...
It's kind of an anthology of what I've done so far on Cherry Red, I think they were just thinking, "Jesus Christ, he's done a lot of solo albums, it's about time that we anthologise him like we've anthologised everyone else", which is what they do and it's great and I had great fun doing it.

How did you choose the songs that went on to that?
I just picked my favourite songs, it was really easy. It wasn't a hard job, I kind of had them in my head and then I missed out loads of songs as well so I could have done with another CD.

Was there any songs in particular that you wished you'd included?
Broadmoor Blues Delta from The North Sea Scrolls is a good one and I Am Falconetti from the same album - I should basically have done all of my songs from The North Sea Scrolls and some of Cathal's because Cathal's were better than mine I think, which I said in the notes to anthology.

Broadmoor Blues Delta, that's the one that mentions Gomez?
I don't know much about Gomez other than one of them is called Ian Ball and Ian Ball was also the name of the guy who tried to kidnap Princess Anne in 1974. I can't imagine why this wasn't a massive hit! He's now in Broadmoor and he writes these amazing missives about why Princess Anne should still be kidnapped, he's great. He's obviously dangerously insane and he's in the best place for him but we should respect a little bit of that.

A lot of your recent work has been concept albums, do you come up with the concept first or do you write and the songs happen to be about similar things?
I just write what's in my head and it usually fits into a concept, it's not that pretentious. It's just like, I've written a song about Gorgeous George Gillette, so I'll write a load of songs about wrestling because I really like that, really for my own amusement. It's not like the old indie thing of "if anyone else likes it, it's a bonus", if anyone else doesn't like it, they can fuck off.

Who was your favourite wrestler?
Catweazle! Without a doubt, because he was kind of sinister and he was a bad guy. He's quite obscure and he died young, which is not a reason to like anyone but I think he's underrated. He was enormous entertainment value and I saw him a couple of times at Portsmouth Guildhall. And Kendo, of course, he's the real big daddy. Big Daddy kind of ruined it I think.

What would Big Daddy have done with a Casio VL-Tone?
On my album, he was doing strange things with it but I don't think he would have really appreciated the Casio VL-Tone. I think he would just have hit the insta-play button and played something for the kiddies while he did a charity walk around the hospital.

Onto Rock n Roll Animals, how did you choose the artists and the animals?
The album was kind of about Walton-on-Thames, where I was born, I just wanted to make a southern legacy album. Jimmy Pursey, the fox, was born in Walton-on-Thames, but he may claim otherwise. Nick Lowe, the badger, was born in Walton-on-Thames and Gene Vincent, the cat, actually stayed in Walton-on-Thames around the time that I was born, in a boarding house, on his last tour. So, it was all obvious, it just fitted into place really. I don't know why anyone else hasn't done it.

Luke Haines, the man in the hat

There was a point during the gig tonight where you asked people to vote for their favourite member of The Monkees, who is yours?
Micky Dolenz, always Micky, I think the greatest voice of the 60s. Davy has got a great voice. On an early Go Betweens single, Robert wrote some sleeve notes saying that Davy Jones' voice made him think of sunshine. That's very true and it's very pop.

The Monkees seem so underrated these days, seen as throwaway pop music...
I don't think they are underrated, I think that they're super respected because everyone in that whole LA scene at the time auditioned for The Monkees. Steve Stills auditioned for The Monkees, obviously the rumours about Manson, it wasn't true but people made it into a rumour and wanted to believe it. Richie Furay, all of Buffalo Springfield actually, auditioned for The Monkees, so they all respected it.

You're right but I think that subsequently, because they were TV stars they didn't get the respect they deserved when actually the later stuff where they play their own instruments, they became a great garage band...
Steve Albini once said to me that they were a garage band but they had the greatest songwriters writing for them. You can't argue with that.

British Nuclear Bunkers - I love that it's so different but that electronic sound isn't really my thing. It was a pretty big departure from what came before, where did that come from?
You'll come around. It was simply because I bought up a load of old synths because I'm quite into that stuff. Then I was walking around my local area when I discovered that there's a nuclear bunker, an old one, that's for north London HQ. It was built in the 50s for when war seemed to be inevitable. It's a complex and you can't actually go into it, it's shut off and it's only about 500 yards away from my house. So, I realised this and I had all of these old synths and I was going through a divorce at the time, although that's not part of it, that was later, so I wrote this album full of this wordless stuff and I realised later on that it's my Blood On The Tracks. It's my divorce, I've got nothing to say, no emotion about that, I'm defeated and it is what it is. I really like that album it's one of my favourite albums that I've done but people don't dig it that much, because it is a big difference.

You've written two parts of your memoirs, are you working on part three?
I'm not planning on writing one. I write stuff all the time for various bits and bobs and I'd like to write a really good book about rock 'n' roll or a fiction, maybe in the next five years.

Would the rock 'n' roll book have a focus?
It would be about hairy biker bands because that's what I'm into, like the Pink Fairies, The Groundhogs, that kind of stuff. A sociological thing about that, about the heads. I'm interested in the idea of the heads and where that's gone.

Finally, what's next musically for you?
I've recorded a new album that's called I Dream Of Airfix Glue, which is about an imagined world where everyone is three inches tall. It's a sex-folk album.

An under-represented genre. It's not really taken off yet...
It will do, like British Nuclear Bunkers, it's only a matter of time.

Did you make Airfix models when you were growing up?
Not too much, no, I wasn't a nerdy kid but I kind of experimented with it and made bad aeroplanes but it wasn't really my thing.

Luke Haines played the Nottingham Indie Pop All Dayer at The Maze on Saturday 7 October 2017 and his new album, Luke Haines is Alive and Well and Living in Buenos Aires is out now.

Luke Haines website

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