Hawley within tent to
Local boy Richard Hawley will be headlining at Sheffield’s Under the Big Top Festival next month. James Nuttall caught up with him. FROM BRITPOP TO SOLO ACCLAIM
SHEFFIELD’S Under the Big Top Festival will see some home-grown talent headlining this year. After the Levellers provide Friday night’s entertainment, Saturday will see guitar hero Richard Hawley take the stage for a one-off performance in his home town.
Formerly a member of Britpop band Longpigs, the 46-year-old singer/songwriter has also been a touring member of Pulp. He struck out on his own in 2001, and has since released seven critically acclaimed studio albums, which marry the vocal style of Jim Reeves’s mellow and soulful ballads with a harder modern edge.
Open Up Your Door, from Truelove’s Gutter, has been featured on several television adverts to add a classic feel and the 2009 album was also the winner of Mojo’s Record of the Year.
As a session player, Hawley has worked with the likes of Lisa Marie Presley, Nancy Sinatra and Arctic Monkeys and his latest album, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, was released last year to huge critical acclaim. Peaking at number three on the UK charts, it was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize and also received a BRIT Award nomination.
A significant departure from his earlier releases, the album really showcases Hawley’s ability as a guitarist and is much more raw in sound.
“It was obvious to me that it was time to shake away from those moorings, it was getting too comfortable. I wanted
Guitarist, singersongwriter and producer, Richard Hawley was born in Sheffield in 1967.
After his first band Treebound Story (formed while he was still at school) broke up, Hawley found success as a member of Britpop band Longpigs in the 1990s.
When the group broke up in 2000, he later joined the band Pulp, led by his friend Jarvis Cocker, for a short time.
As a solo musician, Hawley has released seven studio albums, the most recent being the hugely acclaimed Standing at the Sky’s Edge. to just see if a guitar could handle the same dynamic as an orchestra, which I think it can,” he says.
Despite all his achievements, Hawley is extremely modest and almost indifferent to his success. We are speaking in his local pub in Sheffield. He has his two dogs with him and aside from the slicked back hair and dark red-tinted glasses, he looks like just another regular enjoying a late afternoon pint.
Some of the songs on Standing at the Sky’s Edge are more politically charged than Hawley’s previous work. He says that this is a result of the events surrounding the recording of the album.
“When I started recording, the Tory government got in. You have to have a heart of stone to not react to some of the things they were doing immediately.
“One of the first things they wanted to do was sell the woodland off, and that was something that appalled me. Having lived through this before with Margaret Thatcher, I knew what was coming. I guess the title song was a warning.
“The three verses are all stories about people I knew back then, and that could be now. It was a kind of rallying cry, really, that it’s time all good people get together and stand their ground.” Hawley completed a UK tour in February and says with a little sense of relief that the new material went down just as well as his earlier works.
“It was awesome to play on this tour, I really enjoyed the whole thing. The reaction from crowds equalled the