Interview | Nick Heyward @ Rewind Scotland

Nick Heyward
picture from Spotify

“They reminded me of something that was just innately there.”

Nick Heyward was the lead singer and songwriter of iconic 80s pop band, Haircut One Hundred. After their first album, Pelican West, Heyward parted ways with the band and began producing his own solo material. Reuniting several decades later, he’s going on another tour with them once again.

Nick had a chat with me about this new upcoming Haircut One Hundred tour, as well as the bands and experiences that made it all happen.

Q: I saw you were going on tour with Haircut 100 again. Are there any venues you’re playing on this tour that you’re excited to go back to or play for the first time? And were you looking forward to playing with them [Haircut 100] again?

In October and November, yeah. I think there will be, yeah. I was so aghast at the thought that we were playing again, it’s so exciting that I haven’t even gone into detail about the gigs. I just thought, ‘oh my god wow!’

Yeah. It’s Les, Graham and I’s bond, as friends we lived together, we started the band together. To live our dream on stage again, we’ve already played in the Shepherd’s Bush Empire [London]. It’s just kind of happening and connecting, you turn round and you remember the lounge you lived in, the one rooms where you, kind of, went out in the evenings, and went to see gigs and you think “that’s going to be us one day”.

Q: Who did you see that made you want to pursue that then? Is that when you knew what you wanted to do?

Everyone. I used to love Talking Heads and XTC, so I saw Andy Partridge…XTC! I saw them, all stocked together at once. They all started playing again, and my goodness, they blew my mind! I wanted to do what I’d seen on the tv beforehand, I’d seen Queen, and great amazing music. But I didn’t think it was actually possible. When I stood there, in The Greyhound, in Croydon, watching XTC, they were all wearing the same plimsolls, like beaten up plimsolls. It’s the little, tiny little details like that, that convinces you that this is what you want to do.

That was it, like all stocked together in unison, which is kind of what Haircut is about. It’s very tight musically, you know, which we couldn’t do until we met Blair [Cunningham], our drummer, and he was from America, a brilliant drummer, probably one of the best drummers in the country, at that time. So when we got the best American drummer in the country, that was like, we could go tour and live our dream.

Q: So the upcoming tour is for the first album, Pelican West, since it’s 40 years of that. Are there any songs you’re perhaps most proud of from that album, or are some of your favourites to perform?

Yeah, we’re just playing all of that. I think the album works as an album, like a concept album, a pop kind of thing. It does work when you play it all and I have moments where I enjoy it, I love singing this song called ‘Calling Captain Autumn’ because I haven’t written any lyrics like this since, because, in the same way as Andy Partridge, this was kind of our teenage band, our early 20s band. It was full with explosive lyrics at that particular time. I used to love artpop, I still do love artpop, at that point, artpop was my zenith. That’s why I really like bands from Scotland as well, like Orange Juice, I went to see them and Aztec Camera.

Q: Do you find Scottish crowds to be better than other crowds? Do you prefer these to shows abroad?

It gets friendlier as it gets up north, in every way, as the water gets softer.

Q: You’ve got a solo career too, has that always been a thing for you?

Yeah I have that, that’s always there. I don’t feel like its “solo”, I just think, I write songs and I never found anyone to sing them, so that’s what it is. I don’t write for anyone, I just write and that’s what it is.

Q: The website I write for focuses on smaller artists and bands. Is there anyone you can think of who you think maybe deserves more recognition than they have, or you think more people should know who they are?

It’s a funny thing, “deserve”. Over the period of my life, there’s been thousands, hundreds of thousands. I’d have to think about that one, there’s so many examples of people that you listen to and it’s a conundrum really as to why they’re not more successful because that’s you just subjecting your personal taste onto them. Like now, I’ll hear something, there’s this Kamasi Washington song, and it’s just, it’s like a biblical explosion of love and joy. Then I think “well that surely would be number one at some particular point in time”.

I always think why is the Giffords Circus not more bigger than it is because it’s so unique, that’s also an explosion of love and joy, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s so wonderful. It’s just the original idea and joy of a traditional circus. It takes the original essence of circus. I like bands that do that, that take the original essence of something and you can see that, which is probably why I love Orange Juice because they reminded me of something that was just innately there. It goes right the way back and you can trace it back to its roots. You know, Velvet Underground, Neil Young and I think that’s quite strong in Scotland, it came back again and it just goes round every once in a while, a band like…..Ferdinand?

Franz Ferdinand?

Franz Ferdinand! You know, it came back again, you can see that attention to detail in their songs.