Nick Hemming writing with Beth

It appears that Nick Hemming of the Leisure Society has been writing recently with our Beth! What follows is an interview with Nick in the Irish times on 12th February 2010:

Twelve months ago, The Leisure Society’s Nick Hemming was working a dull day job. Now, with an Ivor Novello nomination in the bag and an avalanche of critical praise engulfing the band, it seems the sky’s the limit. He lets KEVIN COURTNEY in on the secrets of his success

WHEN NICK Hemming was dumped by his girlfriend of nine years, it was just the kick up the arse he needed. For a start, it spurred him into leaving the cosy cocoon of his hometown of Burton-On-Trent and move to London; it focused his mind on his new band, The Leisure Society; and finally, it inspired him to write an album’s worth of soul-baring acoustic pop songs, one of which, The Last of the Melting Snow , was nominated for an Ivor Novello award in 2009, the first time an unsigned artist has been nominated.

At the time, Hemming was working a menial day job, trying to scrape together the money to make a new album and keep his merry band of troubadours on the road. Suddenly, this shy, skinny young man was thrust into the limelight and being mentioned in the same breath as the mighty Elbow. The band’s self-recorded album, Sleeper , has recently been re-released on Full Time Hobby along with their six-song EP, A Product of the Ego Drain , which features a startling, baroque version of Gary Numan’s Cars.

Hemming formed his first band in Burton-On-Trent with his mates Paddy Considine and Shane Meadows, both of whom went on to success in the film industry, the former as an actor ( In America, Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum ), the latter as director of such hits as This Is England and Dead Man’s Shoes . He also did time with neo-psychedelic band The Telescopes, but it is with The Leisure Society that Hemming has finally found something worth pouring his soul into. So, for all you Jilted Johns out there, here’s the Nick Hemming guide to getting over a broken heart.

Enjoy your Ivor Novello nomination
“To get the publicity that was generated by getting the nomination, there was no way you could possibly complain about that. Even before the Ivor happened, we got a lot of support, especially from Mark Radcliffe and Guy Garvey. The Ivors was just kind of the icing on the cake really.

“I got some really nice e-mails afterwards from people – I got one from Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel. It was bizarre meeting all these people. We met up with Brian Eno the other week, he’s a huge fan of the album.”

Stay cool with the guy from Elbow
“We were doing our first tour and Guy Garvey came to the Manchester show, and I’d just got the letter from the Ivors people, and I was told that I wasn’t allowed to announce it to people for another four weeks. But after the show, I just couldn’t bear it, I had to tell him, and then he said, ‘hmmmm, rrrright, I think we might be up for the same award.’

“He was amazing afterwards, because they obviously won, and then in all the interviews he gave afterwards, he kept saying he thought that Melting Snow should have won. You just couldn’t lose to a better band, really.

Focus on the positive reviews
“We’ve been pretty lucky with Sleeper , because it’s gotten good reviews. But you can have, like, 30 or 40 amazing reviews and then you have one bad one and it’s just like, uh, straight to your heart. The writing on this album in particular is very personal, so that makes it even harder to deal with bad reviews.”

Avoid the dreaded ‘new folk’ tag
“I’m really not that into traditional English folk music, I find it a little bit twee. I prefer the more contemporary-sounding stuff. The big inspiration for me was early to mid-Sixties Beach Boys, like Pet Sounds, Friends and 20/20. As soon as I heard those arrangements on pop songs, it kind of opened my ears to so many possibilities. The ultimate pop song? It’s probably an obvious one but Good Vibrations. ”

Be proud of your past
“My very first band, with Shane and Paddy, was called She Talks To Angels. After that, I joined The Telescopes just as they were being dropped by Creation Records. But I’ve no regrets – it was a very formative period, and I learnt a lot about music when I was playing with them.

“Paddy’s got his own band now, Riding the Low. I produced his first few demos, and one of the first Leisure Society gigs was in Burton with Riding The Low.”

Try to step out of your comfort zone
“The Ivors helped kind of, in a way, because I was suddenly thrust from somebody who was terrified of doing an interview to somebody who’s had TV cameras turning up at work and national press and stuff. So it was kind of baptism by fire, really.”

Keep busy
“I did a bit of writing with Beth Orton recently, but I’ve been so busy with The Leisure Society, I’ve had to turn down a couple of offers, which was quite painful to do, because they were things I would have killed for a year ago. I still do play with a couple of bands from Brighton, one of them called The Sons of Noel and Adrian. It’s very enjoyable to play in other people’s bands, because there’s not so much pressure.

“I’d love to do more soundtrack work. I did a little work on Shane’s movies, and I’d love to do more of that. Every interview we do, I keep dropping in Wes Anderson – we’d really love to do a soundtrack for him.”

Don’t worry – be happy
“I’ve always said that in my case happiness writes white. Because if I’m really happy in my personal life, I don’t really have much to write about. It’s definitely true that if I’m really sad, then the songs tend to pour out. Melting Snow just kind of wrote itself, as did a couple of other tracks on the album. But the last track on the album, Love’s Enormous Wings, was written when I met my current girlfriend, so I know I can write happy songs.

One thought on “Nick Hemming writing with Beth

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