TMF meet Jack Hayter
Jack Hayter of Dollboy and Hefner fame has returned after a lengthy period out of action, and with a new EP entitled Sucky Tart on the way. We caught up with the man to see what he's been up to and have a chinwag about his new release.
So how are you Mr Hayter? What have you been up to recently?
I am modestly well, thank you. I have an aversion to people saying "I'm good". If they said "I'm Bad" or even "I'm Baaad" it could amount to the same thing with added swagger. Yeah I'm Baaaaad...but I have a nasty cold!
Recently I have been recording a couple of sessions for Dandelion Radio. I have participated in Darren Hayman's excellent January Songs project and starting to do the things you do when you have an EP coming out... gigs and interviews. The day job gets in the way a bit... I teach the Catholic girls of North West Kent how to edit/mix sound and video, but its the best day job I've had. It beats riding around London on a motorbike delivering packages in the cold and wet which is what I did for a few years.
You’re about to release a brand new EP Sucky Tart. How are you feeling about it and how does it fit into your catalogue?
I am excited by the release. It's been a while since the Practical Wireless album, nearly eight years in fact. I guess this batch of songs have come out a bit folkier than I expected - rather than electronic - but then again they are story songs in their own oblique way which makes them folk songs by accident. I have only ever listened to a few British folk records. There was a Richard Thompson album which meant a lot to me when I was young and a Shirley Collins one. I suppose people like Vic Chesnutt, Townes Van Zandt and Tom Waits meant more to me.
My personal solo catalogue is very small. One album, some tracks on various compilations, this E.P. That's about it really. I have played on an awful lot of other people's records though, luckily people I admire and I know which ones influenced me.
You’ve decided to release said EP on the relatively new label Audio Antihero. What drew you to that label in the first place?
Audio Antihero is a great little enthusiastic puppy-dog of a label and that enthusiasm is infectious. Jamie Halliday who runs it was keen to release something and I gave him about half the stuff I had that was already recorded and he picked four. He picked the same four that I would have picked so I reckoned we must have something in common. Audio Antihero also releases stuff by Benjamin Shaw. Ben and I have have sort of been a mutual Myspace backslapping fanclub of two nutters for about four years, a third person who actually wanted to be in that club was obviously welcome! I have always done my own recording at home and the people I like best have that DIY attitude and tried to find imaginative ways around the problem of being small. It's about enthusiasm as I said.
You’ve previously played in bands such as Spongefinger and Dollboy, and collaborated with Darren Hayman. Are there are anymore collaborations on the way and do you prefer playing in bands to going solo?
I have been in three bands SpongeFinger,Hefner and Dollboy as well as playing various instuments on a lot of peoples records. I do like playing as part of a band, partly because one of my favourite things is helping to accompany/interpret songs. When it comes to my own music I've always been reticent about having a proper permanent group. There are various reasons. The obvious one being that it takes a lot of discipline and planning, especially if you have a drummer and a bass player. Another is that live I'm quite fluid about the way I perform: my timing/structure can be random and I often fail to remember which key I'm meant to play a particular song in! So I have a small pool of friends who I can call on like Ollie 'Dollboy' Cherer to join me for live shows. Also I suppose there's the issue of self confidence. Why would anyone want to be in a band with me as a singer? And also the simple guilty secret that my own performances have never made enough money so far to pay people properly for their efforts or even bus tickets.
There are no immediate plans to do further collaborations with Darren. We are both always very busy. But I'm sure there will be others at some point. I know that I can always call on him if I need some nice vintage synths, vocals or piano on a track and he knows that if he needs pedal steel or guitar, or my wheezy fragmentary voice he can call me. My Practical Wireless album was a collaboration; its the ugly twin of Hefner's Dead Media album. It was recorded at the same time in the same kitchen, on the same gear and Darren played on most of it as well as doing the artwork. Shit, there's more of him on it than me!
I have done some fun work over the last couple of years with a man who calls himself Spinmaster Plantpot. He shouts or sings witty poetry into a dictaphone, emails it to me and I do some music to fit. We plan to do some proper recording this March. I'd like to do something with Benjamin Shaw, and of course Ant (Hefner's drummer) who is now a Scandinavian folk superstar.
Do you have much in the way of touring plans?
Not a "tour" as such. I will be playing a few shows in London and the South East and doing some radio like Resonance FM and Dandelion Radio who have been supportive in the past. I will be out and about a lot more than I was last year although I can only take so much unpaid leave from the day job. I had a load of stuff planned and then last March had a surprise heart attack which took a while to recover from. Turned out I had been walking around with two out of three coronary arteries blocked for two weeks beforehand. No more lard and dripping sarnies for me! It would be nice to do a quick run round the abandoned bandstands of the Britain. I'm not especiallly shy: I do actually like going out to play.
30th Jan Hangover Lounge at the Lexington Pentonville Rd
9th Feb 12 Bar Club Denmark St
Is there a full-length album in the works for the future?
There's enough material already recorded for an album and enough songs for two, though I'd probably go back and re-record a couple of the dodgier ones. But then again I have always loved EP's. I have a short attention span and I can't think of many albums where I could listen to the whole thing all the way through - and most of them are compilations! Also I tend to give away, lose or get bored with albums, but I have never given away EP's. I still have every one I ever bought. On vinyl there was always something a bit special about 10 inch records. I guess it's that contrary uncommerciality and anyway, four tracks by anyone is enough at one sitting unless its someone sonically and lyrically adventurous like Xiu Xiu, Tom Waits or Darren Hayman.
And will there be anymore releases this year?
Lets see how the Sucky Tart one goes. I reckon another EP in the autumn is a definite possibility, though this time I really should help finance it. Of course I am counting unhatched chickens here because you never know ... I could be the first act in history to be dropped by Audio Antihero! Actually that would be a great honour.
Finally, what are your three favourite songs at the moment?
At this very moment on My Spotify at work:
1. 'Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown' by Social Distortion from Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes - I kid you not! Shades of Springsteen and Husker Du and the Eagles ... textbook rock I know but I'm a pathetic sucker for good tunes especially when I have a cold.
2. ' Ferry To Glastonbury' by Adge Cutler and the Wurzels. Its a sweet sweet song and a beautiful live performance. They weren't at all fake at this stage in their career. Then Adge drove his MG too fast late one night in 1974 and we got that fucking 'Combine Harvester' song.
3. 'We Almost Had A Baby' by Emmy The Great. She's a clever bird and no mistake.