When I spoke to ex-Haircut 100 singer Nick Heyward in 1997, he had just signed to Creation and was gearing up for his new album, World’s End, which was renamed The Apple Bed when it came out later that year. He told me a great story about a particularly weird night in Camden…
In 1982, at the height of his fame, Haircut 100 frontman Nick Heyward was found wandering around a car park in Camden, late at night, stoned and wearing only his underpants.
“That was one of the reasons that Haircut 100 split up,” says Nick. “It was a particularly mental night. We were in the studio doing some overdubbing and playing a game where you had to take an item of clothing off if you didn’t do it right.
“I smoked some Hawaiian grass and started freaking out. I thought that the Devil was in our recording studio, so I hid in the car park. I was paranoid about everything. I woke up like it the day after and the day after that…”
That night, Nick pre-empted the intoxicated Camden antics of ’90s pop stars by more than 10 years, but, ironically, now he’s part of the current Britpop scene, as he’s signed to Creation – the same label as Oasis.
“Being on Creation has given me a new lease of life,” says Nick, who’s now 36. “You can’t be that creative in a major label situation. I feel like I’m surrounded by proper pop writers. I hear Teenage Fanclub and it makes me melt.”
Nick was asked to join Creation by its head honcho Alan McGee, who was impressed when he saw him play live in London. After that meeting, Nick threw himself into recording his brand new album, World’s End. [It was renamed The Apple Bed when it was released in 1997].
The first single from the album was Today. Nick calls it ‘a heavy bastard’. It saw him exploring a new, rockier sound.
“World’s End is different from my last album, Tangled – I know that because I listened to it in the car the other day. I drove out of my way so that I could hear it all. I thought, ‘God, it is so different to the one that I’ve just done’,” he says.
“World’s End is more singer-songwriter/proper songs. There’s nothing throwaway. It’s more honest and musically more straight ahead.”
‘Being on Creation has given me a new lease of life. You can’t be that creative in a major label situation. I feel like I’m surrounded by proper pop writers. I hear Teenage Fanclub and it makes me melt’
Nick’s new album is an all-out pop record that oozes with melodies and combines the London-based, observational writing style of Ray Davies with the songcraft of The Beatles. There’s also more than a passing nod to Oasis. Highlights include the Penny Lane-isms of My Heavy Head, Nick’s very own Wonderwall – The Man You Used To Be – and the ode to summer that’s Reach Out For The Sun.
He says that World’s End moves away from his older material, like Rollerblade – his 1995 Top 40 hit, which was inspired by a visit he made to San Diego, when the bus he was on was obstructed by a horde of mad rollerbladers.
“I’ve never done rollerblading,” says Nick. “It’s one of those things that although you hate it, you could suddenly find yourself doing. I haven’t been skiing before, but everyone says I’ll be bitten by it and that will be it… But it’s the whole thing that comes with it. Skiers tend to talk about nothing but skiing, and rollerbladers tend to belong in a certain gang.”
Aren’t singer-songwriters the same, though?
“Yeah – they’re a weird bunch – don’t go near any of them. What about singer-songwriter rollerbladers? They’re really weird…
“I’m always striving to write that one ultimate song. Songwriters are always inspired by the current climate. That’s why The Beatles’ Revolver was so good. There were some particularly crap songs in ’88 and ’89, but there are some good tunes around now.
“I was talking to my girlfriend and she was saying that her upbringing was Billy Ocean. I’m so glad that I grew up with punk!”
‘I’m always striving to write that one ultimate song. Songwriters are always inspired by the current climate. That’s why The Beatles’ Revolver was so good’
Nick is confident that 1997 will be a good year for him. He’s tells me that he’s keen to record with other contemporary artists.
“I’ve got to push myself a bit more in that department. I’d like to work with lots of people. I did this radio thing the other day and Dubstar were on with me. Their singer Sarah is gorgeous. I wouldn’t mind collaborating with her – or even cohabiting!”
The original version of this article appeared in Splash! magazine in July 1997.