Tuesday, 23 February 2016

INTERVIEW - Nick Heyward

FANS of the 80s pop music scene will no doubt be beating a path to the Indigo2 next month with the arrival of The 80s Invasion Tour.
Midge Ure, Curiosity Killed The Cat, Big Country and Nick Heyward of Haircut 100 fame will take to the stage on Saturday, March 5 in an 80s jukebox reunion gig in which they will take turns to perform a selection of their greatest hits.
For Nick it represents a chance to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and relive that golden year of 1982 when his band's album Pelican West became such a hit.
"You only need one album and for us that was it," he tells me in a chat ahead of the gig.
"It was such a great time back then, full of possibilities, excitement and fun. Pelican West was our Pet Sounds and I can stand back now and see it for what it was - the soundtrack for that summer.
"Although it was successful, it was an odd album in many ways - someone called it genuine lift music," he adds laughing.
"It had an oddness but that was true of a lot of the bands coming out at that time - bands such as Heaven 17 and ABC. We were riding on this huge cultural wave of Brit Funk which was just coming in and was really exciting.
"We weren't in it to conform but to be different and we were all doing interesting things though we didn't realise it at the time."
Nick, who was born in Beckenham and grew up in and around South London, formed Haircut 100 with school friends Graham Jones and Les Nemes signing to Arista Records in 1981.
Despite the success of Pelican West and the fame and adulation the group began to get, they split up while writing the second album. Nick went on to pursue a solo career which has lasted more than 30 years and has produced several albums and some poetry but has seemed to prefer to stay out of the limelight.
But while they may only have had one album, Haircut 100 released some of the 80s most memorable singles including Fantastic Day, Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl), Love Plus One and Nobody's Fool, all of which Nick hopes to play at the gig.
"It will be really nice to play them again," he says. "Fortunately I know them all! Those songs were written for a purpose - that of listening to them and dancing in a club so the Indigo2 is exactly the right place.
"I don't sing them the same as I did back then though. How could a 20-year-old sound like a 50-year-old? It's not possible to sound like that.
"But what I do plug into is the excitement of the time and sing with the same kind of joy.
"I remember writing Fantastic Day sitting in front of a wall so I could learn how to play the guitar and sing at the same time.
"It was many lifetimes ago...!" he adds laughing.
But while this may be the case Nick says he looks back at his time in the band with a "real fondness" although he admits that it was a "bonkers" time.
And this extends to his growing up in South London and throughout our chat he regales me with funny stories of his escapades - not least his brushes with the law.
"I remember spending a night in a police station when we lived near Penge," he recalls. "I was picked up by the cops for just walking home. My parents had a pub called The Goat House which was up towards Crystal Palace.
"My parents lived there but one night had planned to be away and I was to stay with my mate in Beckenham.
"However late that night I decided to go home but when I was walking I realised there would be no one in. So I was just walking and thinking about what to do when the police pulled up and asked me what I was doing before driving me to the nick!
"I got to the station and had to turn out my pockets - there was nothing there. I think they thought I was on drugs or something but I can't do drugs. I tried when I was younger but just can't do it. I'm just naturally happy!"
And that he is, not to mention friendly, down to earth, full of humour and constantly cracking jokes and genuinely pleased to be still making and recording music.
"What's great now is that I get asked to play gigs and get to record the music I want," he says. "The music business has changed and is changing all the time - social media has made it very easy to record stuff and then release it immediately.
"Doing this tour will pay for the new songs that I'm writing at the moment which I hope will be part of an album to be released later this year.
"In the meantime, it will be great to be back at the Indigo2. I played there a few years ago and it was lovely."
It won't be the first time he's played with the rest of those on the line up but he says it is the first time they've been on the same bill.
"It's quite a line up," he chuckles. "I've checked it out and it's pretty good. I know everyone and have played with them individually over the years.
"I have known Midge [Ure] a long time. He's like the leader and is like pop's ambassador. He's the guy you go to on tour, like a manager!"
So will this be a return to the limelight I ask?
"I'm enjoying the appreciation more these days and I seem to be comfortable with it," he muses. "When I was younger I couldn't take the appreciation and was really embarrassed and uncomfortable with it.
"Now I can go on stage and there's no pressure. I'm not trying to be successful but if I am then I'm OK with it. I just put it in perspective - and that comes with the maturity of age.
"It's like coffee - it's OK as long as you don't have too much of it!"

The 80s Invasion Tour is on at the Indigo2 in Greenwich on Saturday, March 5. Tickets cost from £26.40. Visit www.axs.com or call the box office on 08448 244824.

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