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've run across the week. Following pieces on his debut album and Late Night Final earlier in the week, today we reach his third and final column, 2003's Lowedges.
This album came off the back of a lot of touring and to this end we’d become a really strong unit. I was becoming a lot more confident with the whole solo thing. It became less about me tinkering away in a studio. Also, me and Colin started to really gel as a production team – we were simultaneously working on the Girl Called Eddy album.
Run For Me Simply put, I went to see my Dad, who I’d loved and respected all my life, and he told me he’d been diagnosed with cancer, which hit me like a train and we said things only we could know. When I left, he said, “Now then, son, that guitar hanging on the wall, you take it son as I don’t need it anymore… "I don’t need to say anymore.
Darlin This song is about when I split up with the first love of my life and I stood in the rain looking up at her window - it was the nearest I got to stalking someone. It was a passing fancy and I found myself shocked I’d even paused in the doorway. Me and Shez (guitar) played the riffs together and they were so inseparable, like hands entwined over a table, that we recorded with two amps and one mic in-between us so no remixer could ever unbreak the bond that existed between us for that moment. There’s no two other people on earth that can play it like me and Shez do, I swear.
Oh My Love This was the first time we got anywhere near putting a foot on the monitor in terms of vaguely aggressive guitar.
The Only Road This is the track on the album when the band were really cooking – Andy [drums] plays an amazing lick on it. We spent ages with Col [bass] working on the bass part. I love the space in this track – there is a tendacny in a lot of modern records to unnecessarily fill all the space. There’s only three chords on this song and I distinctly remember enjoying the groove we got. I imagined it was a good driving song for people to drive down a long road to.
On The Ledge I recorded this with Alan Smythe at his new studio 2 Fly. I explored the idea of simply layering and making the song swirl. The subject matter is fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t insult the listener explaining it.
You Don’t Miss Your Water I often go back to the usual human frailties of love and loss and I can’t explain sometimes what I want to say, so I end up describing it glibly. I can’t say more than that.
The Motorcycle Song This album was the first time I’d revealed some of the very basic songwriting ideas to the band. I realised I had a really committed bunch to record with because there were terrible blizzards in Sheffield at the time and they all had walked to the studio to record. It’s a credit to the band and I’ll never forget it. It’s a credit to the lads and I’ll never forget it. The sound of the record is more a band sound, which is a huge credit to them. It felt special that they all made such a colossal effort - however this song wasn’t in the list of things we rehearsed, which made some members of the band freak out, I was yet again throwing a curveball. Me and Shez routed the song with some strange chords which made it more interesting.
It’s Over Love This was the last track we recorded for the album. After listening back to it all we realised we needed another track – it didn’t feel complete. That morning we were doing the playback for music business bods. So I sat on the amp, played and sang it in one take, while Col played vibraphone. Literally as Col was putting the fader down on the mix, the industry bods walked through the door. We had a bit of sweat on, even though it was a really gentle song!
I’m On Nights During the time my Dad worked in the steel works, he had a tape walkman of the first band I was in, Treebound Story. He used to have a tape of the first songs we played and he used to listen to it when he was on nights – working nights in heavy industry is a brutal thing to have to do. I wrote this song as a pion as respect to him and all he had given me.
Danny This is an instrumental that I wrote in honour of the birth of my first son, Danny. The only way I can explain it is when Danny came out of the womb he looked like this music sounds in my head. However, fast-forward to the present time, dear reader, and if you google "Harry Enfield, the teenager sketch", he’s now more like this. You know how these things change.
The Nights Are Made For Us In retrospect it’s about being a nighttime musician living like a bat, a dual life - bringing up kids in the day and meeting people at night who might be the funniest, most interesting people you’ll ever meet, but they didn’t have to change a nappy at 4am! If you want to sore with the eagles I have learned you have to wallow with the pigs… Richard Hawley @RichardHawley
For more head to Richardhawley.co.uk.