INTERVIEW: Darren Hayman | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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On Sunday 8th July promoters Prancey Dog will be hosting an enormously special gig at The Cluny 2, as Darren Hayman tours to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hefner’s debut album, Breaking God’s Heart.

“We made it up in Scotland with Tony Doogan, which was kind of a mistake.” The man himself tells me. “We had decided that we wanted to base it sonically on Lazy Line Painter Jane (and Belle and Sebastian only managed to sound like that once!). The main thing I remember making about it is that I had a real distrust of proper recording studios, I was doing everything on my four track listening to Mountain Goats and Sebadoh and I’d set myself certain rules to retain the quality of those kind of records. I remember being adamant about there being very little reverb.

“In retrospect I’m a little bit shocked about my arrogance. I didn’t really know what I was talking about. My residing memory of it is that it’s an odd sounding record, I think it’s awkward and slightly embarrassing, but I do think it’s quite extraordinary, especially if you put it against the trends of the records of the time, in the sense that it’s very indebted to American indie rock.”

it’s an odd sounding record, I think it’s awkward and slightly embarrassing, but I do think it’s quite extraordinary

Throughout his prolific career, Hayman has continued to retain his DIY ethics and vision. “One rule I’ve stuck to is that there should be rules. I’ve done that on lots of records subsequently, by Hefner’s third album I was surprised to find the band as popular as they were, Hefner got quite quickly to that stage of playing the Garage which was my idea of a big gig. By the third album I was intrigued by the idea of making a pop album – adding brass sections and the like – which would have been unthinkable on the first record.”

On the nature of doing an anniversary show, Darren reveals that it’s an idea he’s only recently warmed to. “I want to explain things in the show and use it as an opportunity to unpack some of the songs and the record. I think even about four or five years ago I would have adamantly not done this, increasingly I felt like it was inappropriate for a man of my age to be singing some of these Hefner songs.”

Hayman’s recent work has been wonderfully conceptual and thematic, most notably Chants For Socialists and Thankful Village, both of which required considerable anthropological research. “All sorts of artists pick subjects, I started to consider that albums should be like short novels with different chapters. I just try and think what would be unlikely in a song. That puzzle intrigues me, and of course it has to be something that is interesting to me. Obviously I’m inspired by other records sonically and musically but subject matter often comes from conversations, friends…one idea often leads to another. Ultimately, I like the idea of self-parody; at some point I want to completely turn in on myself!”

Darren Hayman performs Hefner’s Breaking God’s Heart at The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Sunday 8th July.



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