Former Runshaw College student Lloyd Cole first found fame as lead singer of Lloyd Cole & The Commotions.
He went solo in 1989 and has since lived in the US. His most-recent album, Standards, was released last year, and he is currently touring the UK. He chats about cabin fever, good reviews and finally appearing on Jools Holland. He plays in Blackburn’s KGH2 Windsor Suite tonight.
YOUR SHOWS ARE SOLO ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCES, BUT YOU TOURED WITH THE FULL BAND LAST YEAR. WHY DO YOU LIKE CHANGING IT AROUND?
The full band was an experiment really, and it went well. I haven’t toured with a band for 10 years.
If we have more offers then we will do more, but it’s so expensive to do, basically.
IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE WAS A DOWN SIDE?
I enjoy everything about playing live with a band apart from the travelling
You could assemble the most wonderful group of musicians in the world and I would still get cabin fever after a week, the same as I always did.
WHAT IS IT YOU DON’T LIKE?
When I’m touring on my own I can decide exactly what happens every day,
I don’t have to consult anyone else.
Touring with a band is always a compromise; the hotels, the flights and travel, meals, everything, it’s all down to budget and it’s a concern.
When we were touring in the 80s and 90s, there was enough money around for it not to be a worry, but it’s completely different now.
There are other aspects too.
Well there are always people around.
When I play I like to go out to say hello to fans after the show, have any pictures taken and sign CDs.
So I do that after a performance but after that I just want to sit on my own, and if there are loads of you in the band, there’s no quiet space.
I have a strict rule during my solo shows that the only people in my dressing room are my mum and dad.
I like to keep it zen if I can, so I can sit quietly on my own before a show. I’m a cranky old bloke, and there’s no hiding that.
YOUR MOST RECENT ALBUM, STANDARDS, WAS VERY WELL RECEIVED, AND YOU SEEM TO HAVE BEEN MORE ACTIVE THAN EVER
Well, things were going well, and I got on the Later... With Jools Holland after 25 years of asking, so that was great.
I felt like I was the only person who’d never been on the show, but the more I speak to friends who are musicians the more I realise that’s not the case.
I thought it was just me, so at least I don’t feel like I’ve been singled out.
HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN AN ALBUM IS DESCRIBED, AS STANDARDS WAS, AS ‘A RETURN TO FORM’?
I’d rather a good review than a not good review, but people tend to forget my albums are generally well-reviewed. Where they used to get lovely little reviews, though, Standards got lovely bigger reviews, and from people who might not have heard anything I’d done in 10 years.
It’s great that the album has given me some traction, got me on TV after a long time, so it’s all good, but I’m not about to disown my other albums that didn’t get the same sort of attention.
JOAN AS POLICEWOMAN APPEARS ON YOUR ALBUM. WHERE DID YOU MEET HER?
When I still lived in New York - I live in Massachusetts now - I was in a band called The Negatives. I played keyboards with them, and there was a band that supported us one time, and the singer in that band used to be in a band with Joan, so he introduced us. I knew her to say hello to for a long time, and then when her album Real Life came out, we were all amazed. It’s such a good album.
Then I asked her if she’d like to be on a record of mine and that was that.
YOUR SON WILLIAM IS ON THIS ALBUM. HOW WAS THAT?
It wasn’t easy to get him on the album, he’s got his own band and his own thing going on.
I wanted him because he has a different way of thinking and because I didn’t want to have to tell someone what to do.
Trying to get something on the album we were both happy with, though, that took longer.
We didn’t want it to be traumatic for him.
IS IT HARD BEING A SONGWRITER?
I think songwriting is something that I need a good reason to do.
I know there’s enough of my music out there, and to add to that without adding something significant would be a bit like that phrase, ‘rock and roll is noise pollution’.
I want to feel like I’m adding something of beauty.