Charlotte Hatherley Interview

As Charlotte Hatherley embarks on an acoustic tour in support of her rather fine second album 'The Deep Blue', CD Times' own Michael Docherty spoke to the former Ash guitarist about Bros, Milk Tray, and David Bowie.



Michael Docherty:
It’s a decade since you joined Ash, and you were in Nightnurse from a couple of years before that. What would the Charlotte Hatherley of twelve or thirteen years ago have to say about ‘The Deep Blue’?

Charlotte Hatherley:
I would have been bloody proud. I was a totally different girl in Nightnurse, very shy and introverted, it was only vodka that made me go crazy on stage with Ash and it’s taken me a decade to get my shit together and stand up on stage proud and confident. 'The Deep Blue' is a very ambitious record, and I’ve always been that way so I think my 16/17 year old self would have been totally into it.

MD:
You’ve named XTC, Talking Heads, Kate Bush, Bowie and the Beatles amongst your influences – good taste, by the way. But what was the first record you ever bought?

CH:
Boringly it was 'BAD' by Michael Jackson. I was also a massive Bros, Brother Beyond and Marky Mark fan... Not very impressive.

MD:
On this album you ask ‘what do I have to do to behave?’ What’s the answer?

CH:
Cold showers

MD:
Your first gig with Ash was for a 40,000-strong crowd at V97. Ten years on, you’re embarking on an acoustic tour of some very intimate venues, and in the interim you’ve toured with David Bowie and played the Albert Hall. How do such varied live experiences differ in terms of the challenges they create and the satisfaction they provide, for you as a performer?

CH:
Well I can’t even remember how I felt at V97, I was terrified at the time. Over the years I got used to those massive festival gigs, we supported Robbie Williams at Knebworth in front of thousands and I was numbed to the nerves, I find the acoustic gigs much more scary… Nobody can see or hear you fuck up when you’re on a huge stage and the sound is carried in and out by the wind, but acoustically every note is critical. Touring with Bowie was a dream, my favourite moment of all time was seeing him watching us play ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ from side of stage. I suppose all the experience has told me to expect complete chaos and incompetence on the road, when shit goes wrong it doesn’t surprise me or faze me, I’ve pretty much seen it all… Especially being the only girl on a tourbus of 10. I get less satisfaction from the big gigs, Ash always slummed it as well as being bigtime and I feel most comfortable now in the smaller venues, with two girls with me, tour managing and driving myself… Much more pleasing at this stage of my life.

MD:
If you entered a competition to describe your new album in ten words or less, what would your entry be, and what would you hope to win as a prize?

CH:
Thoughtless, uninspiring, haphazard, cobbled together, style over content, utterly brilliant… I’d hope to win a box of milk tray.

MD:
Who’ve you been listening to lately?

CH:
Lots of classical music, Koechlin, Satie, Morton Feldman and a lot of Bryan Ferry.



MD:
It seems to me that there’s quite a difference in sound between ‘Grey Will Fade’ and the new album, ‘The Deep Blue.’ Was that a conscious decision, and, if so, what prompted you to make it?

CH:
Most of 'Grey' was written when I was a teenager, 'Deep Blue' was written when I was 26, just left Ash and my whole world had changed. 'Grey' was a bit of fun really, I didn’t realize people would actually like it… I knew when I started writing 'Deep Blue' that it had to be seriously good as I was now out there on my own and a lot of thought went into the music, it’s a much more considered album. Rob Ellis, Eric Feldman and I spent 3 months making it great, Grey took 2 weeks, it was a guitar punk record.

MD:
What do you make of the current indie scene in Britain at the moment, and do you see yourself as part of it, or something detached?

CH:
I’ve been quite detached. Because I spent my formative years touring like a bastard with Ash I haven’t really been part of the emerging London scene, but I have to say that it’s incredibly exciting and I fucking love bands like The Klaxons and The Cribs… So much more inspiring and innovative then Britpop ever was.

MD:
You’ve been noted for the quality of your videos. ‘Bastardo’ garnered a lot of praise, and more recently ‘Behave’ and ‘Siberia’ have also been brilliant. You seem to place a lot of importance on the video, then: is this purely because of commercial considerations, or is there more to it than that?

CH:
The videos are very important to me, I’ve been quite ambitious with them really, considering I haven’t got any money to spend! I’m lucky to know Oscar Wright who animated the 'Behave' video and Edgar and Oscar Wright both worked on 'Bastardo'… Creative people who are willing to work hard on something for not much. There’s no commercial consideration because none of my videos ever get played on MTV or other music channels, they are purely to accompany the song and please me and the fans. A good video gives me great pleasure.

MD:
Less because I’m a journalist, and more because I’m curious: favourite Bowie album?

CH:
Sometimes Diamond Dogs, mostly Scary Monsters.

The remaining dates on Hatherley's tour are as follows:

8th October - Nottingham Social
9th October - Sheffield Plug
13th October - Manchester Roadhouse
15th October - Northampton Soundhaus
16th October - Leicester Charlotte
17th october - Bath Moles
22nd October - Brighton Freebutt
24th October - London Borderline

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