A feature in the Dublin Gazette. 23 November 2013
An interview with Tom in Dunfermline Press, 21 Feb 2013.
Former Inspiral Carpets front man Tom Hingley on his new book and Islington show
‘It was the biggest youth movement since punk’ – thus former frontman for the Inspiral Carpets Tom Hingley describes the days when his band were at the centre of the musical universe.
In the early 90s, the Manchester baggy movement was where it was at, and the Inspirals, along with the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses, were the big three.
They changed the face of popular music and were so legendary a young Noel Gallagher cut his teeth as their roadie.
‘He was with us for about three-and-a-half years,’ said Hingley. ‘He auditioned to be vocalist before me, although I never knew that until years later. One day he smashed up a tour bus – him and one other guy. I think they didn’t want to work for us any more, he wanted to do his own thing and good luck to him.’
But while the Happy Mondays kept gigging, and the Roses recently enjoyed a high-profile reunion, Hingley has kept himself firmly under the radar.
Now his autobiography has emerged to critical acclaim, as he hits the road with new band The Lovers. ‘It was a very, very exciting time,’ he said. ‘And I can remember most of it. We were a pretty clean band, although I can’t say the same for all the roadies. I think it’s a good book. It’s full of stories of that era. It’s already sold quite well and I’ve a feeling it might pick up an award. People seem to like it.’
So what can the audience expect? ‘We are just playing the second album [The Beat Inside], which is quite dark and brooding. It’s one for the real true fans. They have always asked for songs off that album so I thought why not? The second album didn’t do as well, and I don’t think the band ever got over that. It’s quite usual for that to happen.
‘You have the whole, of your life to write the first album and only limited time to write the second. But it’s a good record, cohesive and coherent.
‘And although it’s 21 years old, it will be brand new to some people, many won’t have heard it.
‘The tour hasn’t been a sell out so far, but we are going to places like Leeds, Manchester and London where we have always had really great fans.’
What’s next for the 47-year-old? ‘Writing the book took up all my creative juices. Writing it has been like trying to run a small country. Badly. I had to take about 120,000 words out. But I’ve got some good ideas for a new record.’
Tom was interviewed by Jon Dean for this piece which was syndicated across London newspapers.
For years Tom Hingley was the frontman of The Inspiral Carpets – one of the most successful British groups of the ’80s. Now no longer with the group, he’s written a book that sets the record straight about a glorious period in British youth culture, his fall out with the band and why Oasis wouldn’t have existed without him…
TOM Hingley wants to set the record straight. As the frontman of The Inspiral Carpets he was part of a triumvirate of bands that blazed a trail out of Manchester in the late ’80s turning on, tuning in and dropping out as part of a Madchester scene that swept all before it.
Along with The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays, The Inspirals’ organ-fuelled psychedelic pop spawned a series of wide-eyed hits such as This Is How It Feels, She Comes In The Fall and Dragging Me Down.
Now Tom, who is no longer a member of the band having departed last year, has written a warts and all confessional about his time at the heart of the baggy icons.
Carpet Burns, My Life With Inspiral Carpets, is his account of being in a band caught in the eye of a cultural storm, but it’s also about his own story, charting his unlikely journey from rural Oxfordshire to becoming a pop star.
Tom was the youngest of seven children. His father was a renowned Oxford University don who translated works by Chekhov and Solzhenitsyn, but it was music, rather than literature, that he turned to and after watching Ian Dury and the Blockheads play in 1977 he set out to become a musician.
He moved to Manchester in the ’80s to study English at the former polytechnic and got a job working at the Hacienda. By this time he had formed a band, Too Much Texas, and in 1989, he joined the Inspiral Carpets.
His book charts the band’s rise and offers a vivid glimpse into the music business at the time and what happens when the hits start to dry up and the arguments kick in.
‘Music journalists and music journalism in general has been quite lazy about that period of time,’ he tells me, explaining his reasons for writing the book. ‘They had forgotten that we were one of the three biggest bands between 1989 and 1992.
‘They kind of think we’re famous purely because Noel Gallagher worked for us (Gallagher was the band’s roadie before finding fame with Oasis); the truth is Noel Gallagher would never have been heard of and had no career whatsoever if he had not worked for us.
‘No-one forced him to stand at the side of the stage for 250 gigs and watch me sing, no one made him be in the studio where we wrote songs and told someone how to play them. When we did interviews abroad and we were tired Noel would sit in and pretend to be me or Clint (Boon – The Inspiral Carpets’ keyboard player). It was a rock school for him.
‘He met Alan McGee working for us, Paul Weller working for us, he met The La’s working for us. People don’t get that because Oasis were a million times more successful, but I’m sorry the chronology of it was that he couldn’t have worked for The Stone Roses because their egos were too big to accommodate him, he couldn’t have worked for The Happy Mondays because at least a couple of them were really serious Class A drug users, so he would not have gone anywhere if he had not worked for us.
‘He owes an enormous debt to the band and that’s fine because he went off and did something much better and much more successful than we did,’ he adds, letting out a huge roar of laughter.
Tom says he also sat down to write this candid tome because he wanted to redress the balance.
‘The book was also to say that I was a big part of what communally was the success of The Inspiral Carpets. Over the years in any group there’s always people who want to push their views too much. There were certainly those tensions in the The Inspiral Carpets, so it comes to a point where you have to say, no I did that.’
It’s plain that Tom’s severing of ties from the band still rankles, as he talks passionately, at length and with a fair portion of frustration about the circumstances surrounding his departure.
‘I issued a tweet saying the band had split up, good luck with your solo careers,’ he explains, taking up the reins of the story. ‘Then Clint tweeted that the band hadn’t split up, it appears one member has left. However, the band hadn’t really been going for years. The band ended in 1995, but we got back together in 2003 for three or four tours. The fact is though I’m a full-time musician. I did 140 gigs last year and I wrote this book.
‘However, the other members of The Inspiral Carpets all work in other jobs and I think it was those day jobs that were getting in the way and the band as an entity was disappearing over the horizon.
‘It got to the point where the band had been over for a long time and it was like trying to reheat a souffle. If people can’t make themselves available for gigs then it just makes it impossible.
‘We got offered some festival dates and one of the band couldn’t do them because they were on holiday that week. You’re talking about a really high profile festival and I think things just get too comfy. To me a band is going to annoy your wife, your kids and your friends. But you have to play where your band is going to get the best billing and it can’t be fitted around people’s day jobs. It has to come first. So it was a creative frustration.’
Since his leaving The Inspiral Carpets, the band has reformed with original singer Stephen Holt, the frontman when the band formed in 1983 as a garage punk outfit.
Ask Tom about this, and he can’t disguise his contempt.
‘I don’t think it’s very clever because at the end of the day they did a tour where they supported The Happy Mondays; now remember people had been coming to see the band with me singing since they were 13. People were turning up and after 30 seconds realising I wasn’t there.
‘Apparently they told people on Facebook, twitter and on (music journalist) John Robb’s website (Louder Than War) that I wasn’t in the band anymore, but to be honest nobody who paid £35 for those tickets had any idea that I wasn’t going to be there. ‘They had also said they were going to be this garage band like they were when the original singer was in the band, then they came out and did the 17 songs that got into the top 20 that I sang on.
‘The fact of the matter is you can say what you want about it, you can be deluded about it, you can be in denial about it, but over the V Festival weekend (where The Inspiral Carpets were on the bill) I must have had 50 tweets, texts and emails from people saying ‘oh god man you need to sing in that band.’
‘Frankly, they should just call it something else, because it’s not The Inspiral Carpets.’
Tom was interviewed by David Owens for this feature in the South Wales Echo.
Tom was interviewed by Chris Bond of the Yorkshire Post for this feature and review of Carpet Burns.
In his new book former frontman Tom Hingley talks about his life with the Inspiral Carpets and the ‘Madchester’ era. He talks to Chris Bond.
BY the end of the 1980s, British rock and pop music had reached its nadir.
The innovation and experimentation that marked the beginning of the decade had given way to a dull cacophony of mediocrity.
But just as it seemed we were disappearing into the sonic mire, stirrings of a new sound started to reverberate across the country from its epicentre in Manchester.
The ensuing ‘Madchester’ scene that revolved around raves, Factory Records and the Hacienda, has become part of our cultural folklore.
But of the so-called ‘Holy Triumvirate’ that rescued British pop, the Inspiral Carpets have somehow been squeezed out of the picture.
Perhaps it was an image thing, for while The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays had the swagger and velocity, the Inspiral Carpets seemed more like a collection of bad haircuts united by musical talent. But part of their charm was the fact they weren’t cool and when it comes to music their output far outweighed that of their rivals.
Over a four year period from 1990, the Inspiral Carpets produced four albums including their debut Life, which reached number two in the charts, as well as a string of great songs including Dragging Me Down, Two Worlds Collide and their shoegazing anthem – This Is How It Feels.
Despite this the band has been pushed into the margins of the story about the Manchester scene, which is one of the reasons why former frontman Tom Hingley decided to write about his time with the band and the people and players who made it happen. ‘I felt the Inspiral Carpets were being airbrushed out of the story by lazy journalism,’ he says.
‘If you watch 24-Hour Party People there’s almost no reference to us at all. Nobody else was coming forward to tell our story, the story of one of the best and most fascinating bands I think this country has produced. So I thought if someone’s going to do it, why not me?’
Carpet Burns, My life with Inspiral Carpets, is his account of being in a band caught in the eye of a cultural storm, but it’s also about his own story, charting his unlikely journey from rural Oxfordshire to becoming a pop star.
Hingley, who will be at the Morley Literature Festival next month, was the youngest of seven children. His father was a renowned Oxford University don who translated works by Chekhov and Solzhenitsyn, but it was music, rather than literature, that he turned to and after watching Ian Dury and the Blockheads play in 1977 he set out to become a musician.
He moved to Manchester in the 80s to study English at the former Polytechnic and got a job working at the Hacienda. By this time he had formed a band, Too Much Texas, and in February 1989, he joined the Inspiral Carpets. His book charts the band’s rise and offers an intriguing glimpse into the music business at the time and what happens when the hits start to dry up and the arguments kick in.
Since leaving the band last year he has concentrated on writing his book and touring as a solo artist with his band The Lovers.
‘It doesn’t pay as well but I really enjoy it,’ he says.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
The Beast Inside tour started in spectacular fashion in Newcastle. Here’s an extract of a review of the gig by Helen Todner posted on withguitars.com
The lights dimmed, and the rolling script from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar filled the room just as Cicero was explaining why it was a good thing he had helped butcher his emperor the light exploded into life and the band took to the stage. Tom was on top form, engaging with the crowd like the pro he is, and men who had probably never danced for at least 10 years threw shapes on the dance floor last seen somewhere during the early part of the 1990’s (yes Steve that really does include you). And for just those few precious moments in time you were taken back to the heyday of British music, before Brit pop, before Oasis, back to when it was really ok to use keyboards, and the best sounds all had that distinctive Manchester flavour that oozed coolness and hedonism. And we lapped it up from old to young everyone was bopping along and a few even went up close and personal for a hug from Tom whilst he performed. This was without a doubt one of the most memorable gigs of the season for all the right reasons.9/10
Read the rest of the review here
A selection of photos from the first night of The Beast Inside Tour, 6 September 2012, Newcastle O2 Academy.