This week (27 October) Richard Hawley is reissuing his first three albums, all recorded for the Setanta label between 2001 and 2003. For a series of special guest columns the crooner has written Q a companion piece to each record which we’ll be running over the next few days. Getting us underway is his debut, 2001’s Richard Hawley.
It all happened by accident. There was some demo time left over from some studio session or after and I used it to experiment. I guess I wanted to do something the polar opposite of what I was doing then which was very aggressive. The mini-album was as alcohol fueled as anything I did before but it came out different – I discovered I was a maudlin fucker on the side. To be serious, I just wanted to make something gentle for myself – I never expected it to be released. The mini album was basically a tune-a-day: get there in the morning, write a song and by the end of the day it was done. The thing about this album is I insisted all the instruments were set in the round with a boom mike in the middle so I could walk between instruments – I mixed it in my head, so we moved the mic close or far away, depending on where we wanted the instrument in the mix.
This was the first single. It was the starting point of what became the mini album – I’d been messing about with open D tuning for years. This contains my favourite bass line by my co-producer Colin Elliot. Because I was so nervous I drank about eight pints. I listen to it now and I sound about 10 years old – though a 10 year old on 8 pints is a bit disturbing.
Bang To Rights
This is similar to Strawberry Fields by The Beatles – it’s actually two songs edited together – that’s where the similarity ends! I played everything on this I think. The idea was two not too sure lovers being locked in a night club together – it might be a bit scary at first but after a bit you realise, ‘hey there’s a free bar – plus we can shag all night long’! I did get locked in a club in Hamburg once, but it wasn’t with the love of my life, it was with a hairy 20 stone roadie who kicked the door in to get us out.
I don’t remember much about recording this but I really like the melody. It reminds me of a tune in the back of my mind, that reminds me of a school trip and then you have to descend back into reality when you get home. My sister Becky played the lead role in a play at the Crucible called Our Day Out by Willy Russell and somewhere in my mind I had that thought in my head when I wrote it.
I think I did this one as a bet – no click tracks just a guitar riff and Colin (bass player) betted I couldn’t do the whole song without a click track – all the instruments.
Naked In Pitsmoor
The idea in my head was nothing to do with how it came out, but when me and my other sister were little we were born with a taxidermist on one side, a butcher on the other and the cemetery opposite. We used to go over to the cemetery when we were four or five years old, take our clothes off and bring mum some ‘green jewels’ home from the cemetery (the green gravel crystals on the graves). I guess it didn’t really relate to that in the end.
Time Has Made A Change
That was the only song on the album I’d written beforehand. I wrote it on Hawley Street where I lived at the time – it’s in the open D.
This was an idea where I wanted a song to be memorable without repeating the chorus all the way through – it doesn’t repeat until the end.