Interview: Luke Haines


Luke Haines is a musician – a ‘pop star’, if you like, but one who your Pop Idol viewer is unlikely to have heard of or appreciate. You can learn more about his musical ouevre in our review of his new box set. Here, he talks to Daz Lawrence about the other stuff.

The last time we crossed paths you’d very kindly written sleeve notes to an Adrian Street retrospective the world wasn’t crying out for. With the box set being a good point to look back, what would you say have been your biggest errors of judgement in your career?

Refusing to go on Top Of The Pops when we were offered with Lenny Valentino was a possible error of judgement (not a regret). If you do rock n roll properly and righteously then you are very much in the world of instinct over judgement.

Have there been concept albums you’ve considered but thought would scare the horses a little too much?

The North Sea Scrolls was designed to scare the horses a bit, but much of it almost started to come true : the rise of the Right (Enoch Powell – Space Poet); Savile (Savile’s Seven Funerals) and Brexit (The Morris Man Cometh) to name a few golden Justin Toper moments.

When you enter the arena of the concept album, fear is pointless. There is no concept too small or big. I am not scared.

I still insist that if you wanted to, you could write a smash hit. With near misses with The Auteurs and Black Box Recorder, how do you think you’d fare if you became star-turn-on-Strictly-famous?

Writing the ‘smash hit’ is only the bottom layer of the cake. You have to be the man who wants to have the hit. And to want a hit and be Jonathan Ross’s new friend – you have to really want to do that. As a Strictly X Idol with a Voice I would be hopeless. I don’t want it so it would be rude to expect other people to want it. When I was 25, I was a little bit more game. But not much.

What’s the next musical movement you can see on the horizon? What would you like it to be?

I predicted ‘piano rock’ in the late ’90s (you may have missed it but it happened) And I also warned of the great Ukelele apocalypse (on-going) We are basically living through ‘Content Provider Rock’, which is essentially everything that came before. But worse. With no real interest. And with added boredom. This is the foreseeable future until Brexit. Then, post-Brexit, it will be mostly instrumental groups. Of men.

How did you get on trade marking a frequency? Is there anyone in particular you would consider bringing charges against for crimes against sound?

I own the frequency 43.3 Hertz. A low, almost sub-sonic frequency. This frequency can be heard in almost all music (apart from James Galway records) Essentially, I can take my displeasure out on any fucker I like.

Is there a point where you have to commit to music? Is it too late now to say, “you know what, I might fix kettles for a living”?

Yes. You have to commit to art. You have to say ‘I am an artist.’ I have witnessed journalists trying to turn their hand to a bit of art. It never works, they mistake artiness for art. One is cheap, the other is badly paid.

Enjoying your running commentary on Twitter in regards to Nick Knowles, Jay Rayner etc recording albums. Have we hit the bottom yet? Are there worse celebrities in the UK who could record albums?

Giles Coren.

Are soundtracks an area you’d like to work more on?

Yes. I dabble from time to time but lack the desire to become the next big gun for hire.

Would you take part in Jools’ Hootenanny? Would you consider getting so drunk as to cause a ‘scene’?

Yes. And Yes. I would be quite happy to set my own head on fire. I would interrupt Ruby Turner’s ‘set’ with my burning head and quite literally die on the Hootenanny.

What’s your view on erasing someone from popular culture because of something they’ve done (Gary Glitter being a good example)?

Modern phenomenon. Along with lack of nuance. Put the two together and you have Bono’s brain. We live in post Bono-times. All the good has been done. We can only excavate the bad.

When push comes to shove, what’s the best song you think you’ve written?

I don’t really like songs, or even write them any more – not in the classic sense. I write pretty good ditties. Like Ivor Cutler but from Surrey – sounding nothing like Ivor Cutler.