Richard Hawley, Pocklington Arts Centre, June 1; Duane Eddy, Grand Opera House, York, May 26 (From York Press)
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Richard Hawley, Pocklington Arts Centre, June 1; Duane Eddy, Grand Opera House, York, May 26
FOR South Yorkshireman Richard Hawley and good old American buddy Duane Eddy, the guitar is the thang. So much so, they made an album together in Sheffield, Hawley and his band backed the king of twang on his last British tour.
As chance would have it, they follow each other in upcoming Yorkshire dates: Duane first at the Grand Opera House in York tomorrow and Richard in his sold-out Pocklington Arts Centre debut next Friday.
For son of Sheffield Hawley, his bold seventh album, Standing At The Sky’s Edge, has brought him his highest chart entry at number three. Out have gone the Fifties orchestrations, in comes Sixties’ psychedelia, space rock and ragas with heavy riffs and raw guitar solos.
It is being called a seismic shift in direction, despite the album’s tender moments. Above all, it is being called psychedelic, Richard. Would you agree? “Well, would you agree?” he retorts. “Yes,”
York Twenty4Seven starts to agree.
“But I’m not sure about that word, because it can mean so many things,” rejoins Richard. “The common interpretation of psychedelia is flowers and hippy stuff, but this album is darker s**t than that – as was the last one.
“I just thought, all I wanted to do this time was dispense with any orchestration and see if I could produce similar drama with just guitar, which was the first thing I fell in love with and I felt I’d neglected it in some way, though it was more to the fore in my concerts.
“I hadn’t really captured that on record – but then it’s a bit like trying to capture lightning.” And capture it he has on Standing At The Sky’s Edge.
“We definitely found the conductor,” says Richard. “What we did was to play live in the studio, so that it wasn’t separated and too thought out, but was more visceral than cerebral.”
Richard spoke to York Twenty4Seven just before the record’s release and at that time was unsure how it would be received, although that did not unduly concern him. “I’ve no control over how people will think of it, but I’ve followed my instincts for 30 years now and I refuse not to do that,” he says.
“It would be so easy to do another album in the vein of Lady’s Bridge but every album has been a progression and just to repeat myself would be an insult to people who buy the records.”
In an industry that appears happy to sell the same thing over and over again, Richard demands the right to be individual. “The concept of the individual is something that’s disappearing rapidly out of our society and yet I’m an old-fashioned guy who thinks that individuality is the pinnacle of what we can be.”
• DUANE Eddy is being joined once more by Richard Hawley’s band on his second British tour in less than two years this spring.
Richard himself can make only two shows – Sheffield and Holmfirth – on account of his promotional duties for his new album, but the rest of the boys that accompanied the Nashville king of guitar twang on his first UK trek in more than 20 years in 2010 will reassemble in York tomorrow.
Duane, 73, will be forever grateful for Richard’s contribution to his Road Trip album, recorded in an on-the-hoof session in Sheffield with Hawley and his band on the back of that tour.
“That was wonderful, I tell you,” he says in a drawl as a long as a ZZ Top beard. “Richard was in the studio with his ear up against the amp to get the sound right for each song, and I think that made such a difference.”
Produced by Hawley and Colin Elliot at Yellow Arch in Sheffield, the album was released last year, featuring 11 tracks cut at breakneck speed.
“We worked so fast, it was amazing,” recalls Duane. “It could have turned into a total mess, but Richard and the guys pulled a rabbit out of the hat. It meant we wrote, demoed and recorded all the songs in 11 days.
“I think the record has the best sound I’ve had since I worked with Lee Hazlewood; I’m not saying it’s better than that; just that it’s as good. Richard is an old soul and he just understands the earthy music and the earthy sound.”
Duane reveals that Richard wanted to make a trilogy of records. “I’d love to do that but you have to sell some records first and I don’t know if Road Trip has sold enough to do that,” he says.
“That’s why we need to release it in America. That’s why this could be my last tour in the UK if the tickets don’t sell, but I’d like to keep on going for as long as I can do it well.
“My fingers cramp up once in a while but I shake them loose and just hope the adrenaline overcomes the tightness. Usually it does.
“It comes and goes and of course it’s frightening when it goes because you think, ‘that’s it for me’, because if you can’t play you’re done, but I’m still OK!”
Duane Eddy on Richard Hawley
“I heard Richard’s records before I met him and I thought they were terrific. And I also thought that it would be interesting to make a record with him. I loved the way his records sounded, especially the big ballads, and I kept on thinking, ‘There’s a space in there! My guitar could really soar in that space’.”
Richard Hawley on Duane Eddy
“Working with Duane on his album didn’t have a particular influence on me subsequently for my new album but he has always been resident in the House of Influence in Hawleyland, and the fact that he’s become a mate as well is great. He’s a lovely man.”
Three questions for...Richard Hawley, the Sheffield crooner who has taken up his guitar against the state of Britain
The title of your new album, Standing At The Sky’s Edge, is taken from a Sheffield landmark, but does it also suggest we are staring into an abyss in Coalition Britain?
“My ideal of our society is that we should care for the elderly; inspire our young and educate them, and to me, we invented the blueprint for those things in this country and it must be paid for by taxes, especially taxing the well off. “If these things disappear, then we become less civilised, but this Government and this country is now using the American blueprint and that’s dangerous.
“Horizons are being lowered… but I’m from a family of nurses and the National Health Service is vital to our country. “Now it seems the only option for our children is that, well, you can flip burgers, but there is a way out of it. Music and sport have always been the two things and culturally we’ve always had an endless vein of mavericks who come up with interesting ways to look at the world.”
Has politics always been a part of your musical armoury?
“Yes, though I don’t believe in the ranting side of it. There’s no judgement from me. I just see history repeating itself and I do believe we’re at the edge and we have to decide whether we just fall into the oblivion the Tories are leading us into or make a stand for old values.”
Out goes romantic Fifties crooning, in comes Sixties’ psych-rock and a darker soundscape on your new album. Why?
“It’s sometimes a skin you have to shed; the past is gone and tomorrow is merely a myth. All we have is each other and now, The End. “I find that liberating. You don’t have to be nihilistic at all.
It’s about enjoying the moment and not constantly dreaming of being somewhere else, where you fall into the capitalist way, when, if you look around you, there are beautiful things like relationships. “The greatest gift you can give anyone is your time, and all the other things we hanker after, like love, will then come out.”
• Richard Hawley plays Pocklington Arts Centre next Friday, 8pm; sold out, Leeds O2 Academy, September 25. Duane Eddy plays Grand Opera House, York, May 26, 7.30pm; tickets still available at £21 on 0844 871 3024 or atgtickets.com/york