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

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Cattle & Cane’s Joe Hammill has decided the time is right to release some solo material. He says that the songs he’s written recently felt like ones he needed to sing by himself, but that leaving his siblings behind to go it alone has its pros and cons.

In some ways it’s harder being solo because it’s all on you to make a good show. But there’s more freedom in being able to change things up mid song, which I do tend to do. However I do love having the siblings around – I miss the banter! Music was really encouraged in our family. A few of my siblings played guitar so it was a natural thing for me to start. My older brother James was writing songs and I think that’s what made me think I could do it too. Helen always had a great voice so it was natural to start a band together.”

Alongside Cattle & Cane, Joe has achieved success co-writing with artists like Lucy Spraggan and Ward Thomas. He also recently became a father, so clearly he’s a man who likes a challenge, choosing now to launch his solo career? “Ha! Absolutely. Time becomes way more precious and I have to be more efficient. I’m really lucky that my wife is supportive of what I do. She is a legend! Each morning I look after the baby while she works. Then we swap round in the afternoon and I work on new songs. I try and write with a couple of people each week too – I love collaboration, it’s my favourite thing to do. There’s more of a freedom writing for other people. I’m definitely less self-conscious writing songs that I won’t be singing or touring and often that freedom means I write better songs.”

Even though my first single was an out-and-out love song, the tracks to follow are a bit darker than Cattle & Cane stuff

Back in February, Joe performed his debut solo single, You Are The One I’ve Waited For, on the Sunday Morning Live TV show: “It was very early on a Sunday morning!” He says. “It felt like I’d woken up and then I was singing into a camera. It was a pretty cool experience to see how it all works behind the scenes. Even though my first single was an out-and-out love song, the tracks to follow are a bit darker than Cattle & Cane stuff. I’m probably talking musically rather than lyrically – I always lean naturally towards minor chords but pushed myself in Cattle & Cane towards the positive end.”

Joe launches his new project when he plays Stockton’s ARC on Saturday 29th June, and says that more music will follow: “I’ve got tonnes of material in the pipeline. The way I write has changed quite a lot since getting married and having a baby. Your perspectives just change a lot, which informs the way you write. I have enough songs for an album – I just need to block out a few weeks to get them all recorded and mixed.”

And in the future might we see some of the mini-Hammills getting together to follow in their parents footsteps? “Ooh an offspring tour would be great! Amongst the nephews and nieces we have quite a few budding musicians – so I think we could see another family band form in the next ten years!”

Joe Hammill releases new single One By One on 27th June and plays Stockton ARC on Saturday 29th June.

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