Nick Heyward, formerly of Haircut 100 fame, talks to us about romantic love, his new solo album Woodland Echoes and the songs that hold a very special meaning for him. 

“Hey Jude”

by The Beatles

This is a really early memory. The song was being played on the radio and my parents just got a new phone which was green, and that’s the first kind of colourful thing I’d seen. Colour TV was also emerging at the same time, so everything was sort of turning technicolour and this was the Sixties, of course. 

 

 

"I listened to this new music and thought, this is the modern world"

 

 

Nobody had ever heard this sound before and it just made me think, what is that sound? It was like the sound of enchantment or magic. And I couldn’t use those words at that particular point, but it just made me go still for three minutes. I looked at this new phone and listened to this new music and thought, this is the modern world.

It was so thrilling all of a sudden and I didn’t know why. It was just overwhelming. Up until then, I'd thought that music was just what my parents listened to which, in our house, was jazz. So I’d been to see Oscar Peterson, Count Basie and Ray Charles, but this was pop music and it was a turning point for me—a little glimpse very early on.

I remember seeing The Beatles perform it on telly and thinking, he’s got a beard like my dad. You know, beards! Plus the shape of the microphone and everything! It was the beginning of thinking that pop music was a thrilling thing.

 

 

"Science Friction"

by XTC

When I heard “Science Friction”, it was a bit like a thunderbolt of electricity—as was punk. I was 15 turning 16 and I was going to see The Jam and The Clash and other commercial artists at the time so it was a massive turning point for me. But when I heard “Science Friction”, I hadn’t heard anything like it before. Everything was completely turned around and I’d never heard a band play so tightly together.

Beforehand, I’d always be into songs like “Jeepster” by T. Rex, where you just didn’t know what on earth they were singing about. Like, what was a Jeepster? What was it?! 

While this... this was like literature but put with music. So with "Science Friction", I got really into XTC and went to see them a lot and I couldn’t believe how it sounded like raw electricity.  

 

 

"Moonlight Serenade"

by Glenn Miller 

It’s funny because I hadn’t discovered this one until about ten years ago. I’d always been into jazz but I never noticed this song at all. One night, I was dancing with my fiancé and “Moonlight Serenade” came on. So we continued dancing but we just couldn’t look at each other because we thought, We’ve done this before, haven’t we? It was just too weird.

So we tried it again another time and the same thing happened. And every time we played that record, and, indeed, most of Glenn Miller, we seemed to feel like we’d danced to it before and it was really odd. It was so powerful, we had to stop dancing to the record.

But it had such a profound effect on my and my fiancé's life, because that’s just our record, we’d danced to it before and I’ve never had that with any other piece of music. Even now, when it comes on, it bonds us together, wherever we are, whatever we do. Even if I’m thousands of miles away and I hear that record, it’s an instant connection.

 

 

About my new album Woodland Echoes...

I called it Woodland Echoes because it’s actually about that particular place that I talked about regarding Glenn Miller. That kind of connection with romantic and universal love—real love that has no opposite. It’s not hate, or anything—it’s just love. In a sort of autobiographical way, it's about somebody who had love but didn’t have romantic love, but he finally found it when he stopped looking for it. Which is similar to my story. I’d given up and then I found real romantic love. All the songs seem to point to that. 

When I was writing a brief synopsis of the record for promotional purposes, this metaphor kind of popped out. It's about an old man by the sea in a beach hut, who feels the hand of time on his shoulder and he's in this eternal place but he seems to be compelled to leave the beach hut and seek romantic love. And as he leaves, he turns around to look at the beach hut and it’s actually a cuckoo clock and he realises he’s a cuckoo bird.

So he goes off on a journey up a mountain to seek love. He hears a kind of echo of love on the mountain peak but he can’t stay there because it’s not a place for any human to dwell so he comes down into the forest and that’s where he hears a bird on a telephone wire on the edge of the forest. It’s the most beautiful song he’s ever heard, it’s this bluebird. And he falls in love with the sound of this song.

It’s kind of similar to how I fell in love with my fiancé which was on the phone, I fell in love with her voice. So there’s a story that runs through this album that might eventually turn into some kind of little storybook or a musical.   

 

Woodland Echoes is out now on Gladstone Hawk 

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