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Ghost Canyon

Richard Hawley  [2016] Richard Hawley [2016]

'Sometimes I Feel: The Richard Hawley Story'

For those not in the know, Richard Hawley is an English guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer. 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. After that 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 and has been nominated for a Mercury prize twice and once for a Brit Award. He has collaborated with Lisa Marie Presley, the Arctic Monkeys and Paul Weller, amongst others.

Following the success of his hugely acclaimed 2012 album, Standing At The Sky's Edge, acclaimed British singer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Hawley released his eighth studio album, Hollow Meadows in late 2015. Recorded at Sheffield's Yellow Arch Studio in spring 2015, Hollow Meadows sees Hawley return to the classic, sophisticated songwriting and subtle arrangements that made him so widely loved and revered in the first place.

I recently caught up with the man himself, Richard Hawley and I first wondered, growing up in Sheffield, having "discovered" music at an early age through his parents, and having formed his first band, Treebound Story whilst still in school, had he always felt that he had been destined to be a rock star? Or at that time, in that era, in that city, initially was music simply an escape for him? "Iím still here - no escape involved and there never will be - I love this city - whether itís going through good times or bad - itís the people that make it and Sheffield people are ace. Music provides a place to be your true self - never be afraid, face the world head on. Itís a means of communication, not escape. I just wanted to get away from Thatcherís Britain. Since then weíve had Blair and Cameron - no escaping these c**ts!"

After the success of Longpigs, a stint in Pulp, the new release of your seventh (er, possibly eighth) solo album, AND nominations for a Mercury Prize (twice) and a Brit Award (once), what IS it about a sometimes, somewhat jaded, ever decreasing circles profession (music originality wise), that has kept you so vested; so interested to still be a part of? "Iím not part of anything - I am what I am and do what I do - I donít have a choice in being me and sometimes people like it and sometimes they donít."

Your brand new album is called Hollow Meadows, a town in Sheffield, and yet another title that reflects an area of Sheffield. Not that you will run out of "Sheffield area titles" any time soon, but did you always set out to name your albums in this manner - and how far will it continue on? "People stop me in the street or in the pub sometimes and say ĎIíve got a great title for your next albumí ... usually theyíve seen a shop title like the chip shop called The Codfather or where they live or something they saw on the bus. Thereís loads of names round Sheffield so I probably wonít stop - no reason to. I read loads of local history and get interested in areas. This time it was a friend of mine, John, who suggested it."

"When I looked into the history I found Hollow Meadows used to be called Auley Meadow - and that was a mispronunciation of Hawley Meadows - there's loads of Hawley's throughout history linked to this city - right back to 14th century. It made me feel even more rooted to the city. My family has been part of it for a few years it seems. I didnít set out to do anything - there's no plan, it just happens."

The album is an evenflow of tracks, from melancholy crooning to playful pop, so were these 11 tracks all that was written - and does their sequencing play a part in the albums actual storytelling, perhaps? "Thatís for you to figure out!"

Recorded whilst you were recovering from a slipped disc, how much did that injury, that pain, those delightful meds, play a part in forming this new album? "Nothing delightful about the medication I was on - Tramadol, Morphine and Co-codamol - all hugely addictive substances - savage shit. I donít remember half of what went on and coming off them was worse than any come down Iíve had. Most of the album is influenced by 2 years on my own lying on my back looking out of the window wondering if I would walk again. It makes you look at life and decide whatís really important. I started to realise how good life really is and the things that are important never change - family, friends, dogs, guitars, ale. Jobís a good 'un."

Looking at the cover art for the new album, we view you - looking moody - through cracked/broken glass. Being that this was a series of shots taken that day in the woods, why so moody?! "Cus they wouldnít let me go to the pub!"

Please tell us more about Disgraceland, and a) why you built it in the first place, b) what it houses on a constant basis, and c) how far from the real Graceland is it?! "It's a shed - not like youíd have in America - like an English one - small but perfectly formed. I built it to get some peace and quiet so I can think. The modern world is full of gadgets. Everyone around me is on a gadget and other peopleís noise is everywhere. I just wanted a shed to have a place to be. It has great views and I can sit in there for hours playing without being nagged by anyone. Iím telling no fucker whatís in there - ever. Itís about 4,260 miles from Graceland - just have a look on the map."

Your musical style, lyrical and visual approach seems to always have been inspired by a combination of a local Sheffield of its time and a 1960's rockabilly sensibility. Being that we are here in Detroit, Michigan, I have to ask: Have you ever considered doing an entire album of Motown?! "Ha ha ha, thank f**k someoneís finally asked me that burning question!"

I'm wondering if you still own a pair of those infamous "invisible roller skates" - and if the local pub they take you to is full, would you consider coming here to Detroit for a beer with me, perhaps? "Send me the ticket and Iíll see if I can make it!"

Finally, and yes, we ask every one this question, we here at Exclusive Magazine LOVE penguins (the birds), so we were wondering if you yourself did also? "No comment!"

Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk

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