Interview with Charlotte Hatherley

From the Funky Mofo archives.

We’re meeting with Charlotte Hatherley… again. This time no email, no phone call, the woman is in front of us, in the back room at the Fleece & Firkin, Bristol and she looks even better in the flesh! She and her band have just arrived at the venue and the small room is rapidly filled up. This tour is Charlotte’s warm-up to Reading and Leeds festival where she will be playing at the weekend. The atmosphere is debonair and I have the feeling this is going to be a good laugh…

Funky Mofo : Hello Charlotte, who are all these people?

Charlotte Hatherley : They are my musicians: Toby, on guitar, Stuffy, drummer, and Lucy who’s doing backing vocals.

FM: Where did you find them?

(Toby replies “Outside!”)

CH: In a skip!

(Stuffy shouts “Jobcentre!”, I turn to him and ask “Are you on the New Deal For Musicians?” to which he replies “No, I’m doing community service!”)

CH: Well Toby and Stuffy play with Graham Coxon, we met at Fuji Rock festival in Japan last year. Through Stuffy I met John, the bass player and Lucy. It’s quite a nice little community. Actually Graham’s played a little bit of guitar with me at the London show and he’s going to play at Reading, which is really cool.

FM: So you’re playing Reading tomorrow, then what?

CH: I’m playing Reading tomorrow, then Leeds on Saturday, then… That’s it for me for a little while. Just going to take a nice break to do some more writing. I’ve kind of got half of the next album written and recorded, which is good, I’m going to try and finish that by the end of the year. And I don’t think anything with Ash is happening so I can do whatever I like with other stuff.

FM: Do tell us about your next album.

CH: I’ve got six songs recorded so far, I don’t know whether they’re going to be on the album or not. I’ve got Rob Ellis producing, who played drums on the last album. A well as being an amazing drummer on PJ Harvey’s, he writes a lot of classical stuff, he’s a really great composer, he’s written loads of string parts, drumbeat parts, so it’s a lot more experimental. Or as someone said “a lot more damp”!

FM: We’ve met Rob Ellis last year and we did talk about you and his work on ‘Grey Will Fade’.

CH: He’s a lovely guy, he’s very funny. I’m probably going to do some mixing with some bits I’ve already done with Flood and finish off more songs with Rob. That’s what I’m concentrating on at the moment. It was only supposed to be an EP, I thought “Oh, I’ll record 4 or 5 tracks” and then it’s kind of turning into more than that.

FM: It’s turning into a monster!

CH: (gloomy voice) Into a monster indeed!

FM: From a listener’s point of view, I’d want to hear more than an EP, which is only 4, 5 tracks.

CH: Yeah, exactly. Well, singles are EP now, aren’t they? It’s a bit of a different format so I kind of thought “Fuck it, it’s much better to do an album”! But I was kind of a bit worried because all the songs were a lot more chilled out, a lot slower, perhaps it’s not really what I wanted as a second album, but it’s kind of growing into something else at the moment. So I’ll see, it’s quite interesting, I’m glad things are moving along, I’d like to start playing some new stuff cause these songs are old.

FM: I was thinking with you working on very different material, the next album would be completely different from the first one. You’ve gained maturity since then and the songs on “Grey Will Fade” you had been carrying them for a long time!

CH: One of the biggest difference is now that I’ve met musicians I can play with live and getting other musicians involved, which on “GWF” wasn’t like that at all, it’s a lot more kind of an “open experiment”. I’m really enjoying that a lot, I don’t feel like I have to play everything! I’ve got this great Cuban trumpet player, we’ll do some crazy stuff, and it’s good. I can’t wait to play with them live! Probably in November.

FM: You’re touring again this year then?

CH: Probably November/December. At the moment I’ll spend September/October write some more stuff in the hope of finishing off the album, then tour. (laughs) I don’t know if it’s humanly possible, to do both!

FM: It’s a lot to take on for just one person!

CH: I know, and then Christmas I’m on holiday! But it’s good, you know. I had this chance to get commitments with Ash done this year, I know a lot of fans are worried I can’t really concentrate so much on it. Tim and Mark have relocated to New York, they’re going to take their time over it.

FM: It sounds like you’re able to manage your time for getting this album done over a longer period of time than you were granted for “GWF”. No getting things done in a hurry this time round for you because of other commitments.

CH: Exactly. This time I had three songs I did with Rob, then we went to Italy and did another three, it was much more relax, not like “Ok, you’ve got two months to do everything”!

FM: And not seeing the light of day for two months!

CH: I know! I’m also going to do some songwriting with Andy Partridge, from XTC, next month, which is going to be interesting. I don’t know if it’s going to be anything “album-worthy” or anything like that, but he’s like a big musical hero of mine so it’s going to be really cool. (looks as excited as a girl who’d get her favourite dessert) I’m really looking forward to that!

I let Charlotte and her musicians get ready for tonight’s gig, which turned out to be awesome despite the lukewarm reception from the audience. Her set rocked out from beginning to end, boy that girl can really play guitar! And although Stuffy, the drummer smashed his ankle during the supporting slot and had to play through the pain, I expect the crowds at Reading and Leeds to go crazy for this “simple but very effective community” Miss Hatherley is carrying around in the music scene! There will be plenty of impatient music lovers in the coming of Charlotte Hatherley’s second opus, count me in!

C.B Lux

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