April 16th 2016 brings us the annual Record Store Day. And putting all hipster cynicism behind – yeah ok I prefer ‘Shop’ and cheaper stuff – but over all I think this day is great. It brings music lovers, vinyl junkies and bands together for a small celebration of how music shopping used to be. I have missed going shopping to Woolworths on a Saturday and coming back with a 7” or two in my hand (oi! careful!) and indeed, I did just that last year on RSD day with The Locust in one hand Sonic Youth in the other. So hey, leave it alone yeah?
And this year promises to be as good as any as a seemingly endless list of high caliber bands and singers are lining up their special RSD release. And included in this list is Salford’s own Tom Hingley. Since leaving The Inspiral Carpets, Tom has been ploughing a deep furrow up and down and across Britain plugging, not only his previous Carpets output, but his own compositions as both the Tom Hingley Band and more recently as The Kar-Pets. Tom releases ‘Beggars Hand’ on the 16th and all proceeds from the single go to two homeless charities (including Hope Fest) in Manchester and Liverpool. Louder Than War caught up with Tom a week before its release to see what he was up to and what his plans were for the coming months. He proved himself to be eloquent, mischievous, self-deprecating, hilarious and obviously VERY passionate about his music and the current topics affecting life these days.
LTW: Hi Tom! Where are you? What are you doing right now and what is the weather like? (Don’t worry. I promise my questions will get better.)
TH: I’m sat on my bed in Old Trafford musing whether I should watch Rosemary’s Baby on my laptop, read Sherlock Holmes stories, or watch classic Tom Baker era Doctor Who on the streaming site Daily Motion; but I’m doing this instead now
LTW: I literally have only bunked off school once. My best friend and I led our parents to believe we were going to school but we caught the next bus to Swansea city centre to queue up outside of Our Price to meet the Carpets and get your autographs. I still have the signed ‘Life’ cassette today. I hope you are happy to have contributed to my delinquent childhood.
TH: Excellent! This beats being 16 and going round my best friend’s parents’ house at lunch time and shagging my girlfriend. Well, it doesn’t really, does it?
LTW: The ‘Tom Hingley Band’ has been around for a while now. Do you prefer the intimacy of a ‘Tom Hingley solo night’ or a full ‘band’ night? Is there a difference?
TH: I don’t prefer any of the formats I perform: they all have pluses and they all have minuses.
LTW: ‘Beggar’s Hand’ is an absolute belter of a track with lots of distortion and the unmistakable Tom Hingley voice. Apparently this is the first time you have been electrified for a few years? Is this you letting loose?
TH: Not really. It’s me playing electric guitar and making passionate rock music.
LTW: The charities that ‘Beggar’s Hand’ are linked to are obviously close to your heart and are very pertinent and important to a growing problem on our cities’ streets today. Would you say that the ferocity and distortion of the track, combined with the heartfelt lyrics that you seem to literally spit out indicate your socio-political feelings at the moment?
TH: Not really the song: its recording, performance and production are actually all about self control, the distortion only sounds good because it’s sat on top of a lot of attitude, direction, and amazing production by Gary Hadfield at Blueprint studios in Manchester. He didn’t polish the turd so much as airbrushed it. The song was written by tuning the guitar UP to a D major chord, and then using three of the middle strings as drone and moving the other three up and down a scale. That gives the riff body, sounds a bit like the Skids, the Ruts. The lyrics are about the present culture’s values and many folk’s approach, which reflects the apparent disposability of life in the present day. You know, when you see some twat of a businessman cut up a small car on the motorway and cause a forty car pileup because really they don’t give a shit about the own life. The worst thing is they don’t even know they don’t give shit about their own life, and thereby endangering everyone else who does. Homeless people aren’t afforded that casual stupidity, and many of the idiot-employed look down their car bonnet at them. That’s what the song is about.
LTW: And to follow up from the previous question, do you think that this rather depressing time of political and socio-economic turmoil is (unfortunately) a fertile time for creative expression?
TH: No there’s only good ideas and bad ideas. Good songs you’d go to the grave about and Coldplay. Politically, we seem to be sliding towards war in Europe. The present government is clearly making decisions that are deliberately calibrated to cause as much destruction as possible to working class people in Britain; the EU referendum and absurd distraction to the hideous wars we have exported through our arms trade, purchase of oil from ISIS and money laundering of the proceeds of both through the City of London. Creative forgetting, ellipsis and deliberate ignoring of the facts is what most art is actively engaged in at present. Sadly, 50-year-old men writing songs where they are pretending they are 18 again. Nonsense.
LTW: You are seemingly on a continuous tour, either with the THB, solo or with The Kar-Pets. Is being on stage where you are most comfortable?
TH: No paying the CASH I’ve earned from gigging at the bank is where I’m most comfortable. The lady teller there is convinced I’m a drug dealer – but I’m not – honest.
LTW: So after this RSD single release, what are the plans for the THB, TH and/or the Kar-Pets?
TH: THB will release an album next spring. Kar-Pets will tour as much as possible, everywhere, till I pop my clogs.
‘Beggar’s Hand’ is an absolute stomper with its rocky, yet tuneful distortion running throughout. Combined with Tom Hingley’s unmistakable voice, this really is a cracker of a tune. It’s emotive/emotional and heartfelt. Tom seems to be singing from the depths of his diaphragm and it shows. Absolutely affecting on many levels and stays with you long after.
Underestimate Tom Hingley at your peril. This guy’s brilliant voice filled radio stations for over a decade for a reason and it should not be forgotten. Oh and the b-side ‘Toy’ is a belter too. Another great guitar riff weeding its way throughout along with some nice distortion and the punky refrain of “I wanna be your toy!” Great grungy garage at its best.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised. Tom is a funny man and has a great band and has obviously been around the block a few times. But is essentially a (cheeky) boy at heart and continues to create great guitar led output with THAT voice. What’s not to like?
‘Beggar’s Hand’ is available on Southern Records Distributors or through outlets on 16th April 2016.
By Ioan Humphreys. More writing by Ioan Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.