Onwards and upwards
Twelve months ago, The Leisure Society’s Nick Hemming was working a dull day job. Now, with an Ivor Novello nomination in the bag and an avalanche of critical praise engulfing the band, it seems the sky’s the limit. He lets Kevin Courtney in on the secret
WHEN NICK Hemming was dumped by his girlfriend of nine years, it was just the kick up the arse he needed. For a start, it spurred him into leaving the cosy cocoon of his hometown of Burton-On-Trent and move to London; it focused his mind on his new band, The Leisure Society; and finally, it inspired him to write an album’s worth of soul-baring acoustic pop songs, one of which, The Last of the Melting Snow, was nominated for an Ivor Novello award in 2009, the first time an unsigned artist has been nominated.
At the time, Hemming was working a menial day job, trying to scrape together the money to make a new album and keep his merry band of troubadours on the road. Suddenly, this shy, skinny young man was thrust into the limelight and being mentioned in the same breath as the mighty Elbow. The band’s self-recorded album, Sleeper, has recently been re-released on Full Time Hobby along with their six-song EP, A Product of the Ego Drain, which features a startling, baroque version of Gary Numan’s Cars.
Hemming formed his first band in BurtonOn-Trent with his mates Paddy Considine and Shane Meadows, both of whom went on to success in the film industry, the former as an actor ( In America, Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum), the latter as director of such hits as This Is England and Dead Man’s Shoes. He also did time with neo-psychedelic band The Telescopes, but it is with The Leisure Society that Hemming has finally found something worth pouring his soul into. So, for all you Jilted Johns out there, here’s the Nick Hemming guide to getting over a broken heart.
“To get the publicity that was generated by getting the nomination, there was no way you could possibly complain about that. Even before the Ivor happened, we got a lot of support, especially from Mark Radcliffe and Guy Garvey. The Ivors was just kind of the icing on the cake really.
“I got some really nice e-mails afterwards from people – I got one from Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel. It was bizarre meeting all these people. We met up with Brian Eno the other week, he’s a huge fan of the album.” “The Ivors helped kind of, in a way, because I was suddenly thrust from somebody who was terrified of doing an interview to somebody who’s had TV cameras turning up at work and national press and stuff. So it was kind of baptism by fire, really.”
The Leisure Society: William Calderbank, Christian Hardy Mike Siddell, Nick Hemming, Darren Bonehill, Helen Whitaker, Sebastian Hankins