SHELLEY MARSDEN meets the quirky, unassuming and immensely talented Lloyd Cole, as he prepares to play Irish festival Sligo Live… – 23/09/10
What a Commotion

Lloyd Cole, 49, who found fame with his band The Commotions in the 1980s, is now a solo artist who has earned a reputation as one of the best English singer-songwriters of his generation. The Derbyshire man may not get mobbed in the street any more, but this grey-haired artist with the lived-in features is still full of great songs, and though he may have started out dreaming of becoming the white Isaac Hayes, soul music’s loss was most certainly indie/folk’s gain.

Since the group disbanded, the Massachussets-based singer has continued to produce consistently great songs. His new album Broken Record – a collection of little gems which shine brighter with every listen, and showcase a more bluegrass, country feel than any of Lloyd’s previous work – is already receiving the thumbs up from fans and critics. I catch up with the avid golfer, who is soon off for the brilliant Sligo Live festival, to play for the Irish crowds he has always had a soft spot for…

Is Broken Record your best album yet?

I have no idea! I haven’t had time to think about it. I’ve been working incessantly on the damn thing; from writing songs, or should I say finishing them, at the end of last year and then into rehearsals early this year, and recording. But I’m happy with it and we’re getting good reviews; I think it’s what I was trying to do! You never know; I might listen to it next year and go, ‘God, I wish I hadn’t done that!’

There’s a nice country swagger to some of the songs…

That country whatever-it-is that you can hear comes from another little band, The Small Ensemble, which I started last Autumn as an extension of my acoustic shows. I brought two more blokes in, guitarists, and learned how to play the banjo. I told them if I could learn that, then they could learn banjo and mandolin! As soon as you introduce those sounds, and a bit of pedal steel guitar, it immediately makes you think of country, even if the songs aren’t necessarily of that genre. But since I started, my writing is probably closer to country song-writing that rock and roll. Country integrates humour far better than most rock and roll. The latter for the most part is sadly humourless – thank god for AC/DC.

Which is your favourite track from it currently?

The album’s in the shops now, which means I’ve officially stopped listening to it! When I finish making a record that’s it, I never listen to it any more. It’s finished, what can I do?! I’m particularly fond of the bastard track that took ages to write, Writer’s Retreat – the second on the album. It was a tune, a melody and some harmonies, and this was maybe my fifth attempt to put lyrics on it. I finally found inspiration sitting on a London bus. They’re good fun; you can sit on top and appreciate the sights of the city. When I lived in London I was a pop star, so I occasionally took the Tube, but never the bus, in case I got spotted!

Where and when do you tend to get inspired?

If you’re a writer and you don’t carry a notepad, then you’re not a very good writer. You have to carry the tools of your trade with you. I also have a voice recorder in my iPhone, so if a melody comes to me I’ll sing it into that and record it later. But I’ve written so many songs; at this stage in my career, I find myself asking if the world really needs another Lloyd Cole song! There’s no need for anything from me unless it’s adding something I haven’t done before. I don’t mean finding a new subject matter (most of my songs are about heartbreak anyway!); you just need to feel like you’ve found a different angle. I don’t go looking for songs anymore – if one comes to me and keeps banging on the door, then I follow it up.

For the full article, buy this week’s Irish World at your local newsagents, or pick up a on this website from only 50p!

Link to original article online

Publication: the Irish World

Publication date: 24/09/10