Without wanting to come over all I Love 1991 on you I'll take you back to a time when pop music had the slightest hint of credibility. Does "The One & Only" ring any bells? I thought so and if you're too old or too young to remember just head down your local student disco. And if you remember that poptastic tune then you can't fail to remember who sung it - Chesney Hawkes.
Well we caught up with him just as he's about to release a new single "Stay Away Baby Jane" following his sell out tour of the UK. Next year see's the release of a new album featuring diverse songwriting collaborations with the likes of Eels, Fountains Of Wayne and his old sparring partner Nik Kershaw.
Q: I guess the obvious question is where have you been all these years?
A: I've been playing in bands, writing songs for other people and a bit behind the scene's. Just kind of living yer know. Looking back I was 19 and it was all a bit of blur for me - just looking back at pictures of me it's like "Oh no, i look just like some cartoon character".
Q: I believe you worked with Tricky. Bit of strange combination - Chesney Vs Tricky?
A: You wouldn't thing that would work but it did in a strange kind of way. We wrote the song together and then I went in and sung it so it was pretty mad to be honest. Its really hard - big drums and wild guitars. Its on an EP called "Mission Accomplished".
Q: The new single "Stay Away Baby Jane" is more rocking that we'd expect.
A: Yeah, I guess so. Some people have said its just so different but I don't think it is that different. If you listen to "The One & Only" - yes, it is a pop song but its not just synths and computer based...its a band yer know. I don't feel myself that it is that different from what I was doing before. It may be slightly more mature and a bit more edgy, but its basically still edgy guitar pop.
Q: For the album you've been working with some pretty cool names - Eels, Fountains Of Wayne etc. How did all that come about?
A: In fact the guy from Fountains of Wayne I wrote "Stay Away Baby Jane" with. I spent a lot of time over in the states and when your songwriting you just write with a lot of different people...basically me hunting them out and them hunting me out. The song I wrote with the guy from Fountains Of Wayne could have been for either of us, but it just turned out that I recorded it. I think they have a version of it somewhere in the vaults though.
Q: The second track on the single "Seven Of Sundays" sounds almost Radiohead?
A: I love Radiohead or should I say The Bends / OK Computer Radiohead. I still love the band to death but they just went downhill after that...I just want to hear them write a pop song again. Get back to your roots boys!!!
A lot of the rock bands around at the moment like Coldplay or Travis are just too light. I like the songwriting and everything but I'd like to hear a but more guts. I like the classy pop records like the Fountains of Wayne album and Ben Folds is just a genius.
Q: How has it been hitting the road again after all these years?
A: When I first started this tour I really didn't know what to expect...I don't know how people were going to react and kind of went out with a little bit of trepidation. I guess "The One & Only" has become a bit of a student anthem after all these years so its really benefited me.
Q: Did you see "The One & Only" as a chain round the neck at one point?
A: Until last year I refused to put it in the set and when people used to shout it out it would be like can't you see I've moved from there. But i've dug it out of the wood-work and it feels good to be playing it again. I see it as a friend now.
The trouble with music nowadays is the record labels are just waiting to jump on the next big thing. If "The One & Only" would have been released today, you'd have another 20 weaker versions of it littering the charts up.
I'll always have some of the old crowd but they've probably grown up too and listen to Radiohead as well.
"Stay Away Baby Jane" is out December 31st
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