Interview: Darren Hayman

Darren Hayman’s output in 2011 has been most impressive.  Beginning with the January Songs project, in which he wrote and recorded a new song every day of the month, whilst also making a video every day for each song and keeping an online video diary. June saw the release of The Green And The Grey (additional songs from the Essex Arms sessions) by Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern and the 2CD expanded reissue of Hefner’s Dead Media came out in July with 20 extra songs.   In September, as part of the Vostok 5, he held an art exhibition about people and animals in space; a cd is available as well.  His The Ship’s Piano album, released in October, is a favourite of ours here at God Is In The TV and its I Taught You How To Dance is one of my Top 3 Songs Of The Year.  And last month the Christmas In Hayworth 10” was released on FIKA Recordings, coming with a bag of loose leaf Lapsang Souchong and a vegan cake recipe.  Darren and FIKA also ran a virtual advent calendar this year.

I met up with Mr.Hayman at The Rose & Crown pub in Walthamstow.  When I arrived he was busy in the midst of handdrawing individual covers for each of the 1500 cds that will be the physical release of January Songs next month.  We naturally talked a great deal about that ambitious project, but I also found the rest of our conversation, especially Darren’s take on the current state of the music industry and on songwriting itself, very interesting.

Darren will be performing all of January Songs over two nights at The Hideaway in Archway, London on January 13th and 20th.   These gigs will be the only time this will happen.  He will also be performing, though not a January Songs show, at The Hangover Lounge (The Lexington, London, near Angel) on New Year’s Day.

 

So you’ve done quite a lot in 2011, how are you feeling now at the end of the year?

DH: I’m quite tired.  The last month’s been quite hard, actually, with just the usual things in life like Christmas, and even if you’re not into Christmas, it still makes things busy.  And next year won’t be as busy.  I definitely think that it was fun but also actually, I’m just running out of stuff to release.  Partly the reason to be this busy was to sort of clear a backlog but actually, eventually, I might have to stop releasing stuff because I’ve got no songs.  So that’s another reason why I’d have to stop.  A little bit.

You haven’t found momentum has sort of been carrying you-

DH: Well, saying that, there still is possibly going to be two albums released next year.  But that still is quiet compared to this year.  There is an album coming out in April, but compared to this year, to have a gap of three or four months before a release is quite a lot.

Is that the witch trial album?

DH: No, that still isn’t.  It is finished, it really is (smiling), it just needs a couple of days, maybe a week at the most.  All the songs are written and it’s all there, like all the parts of the car are there in the garage but they’re all dismantled and it just needs putting together.  And artwork and things.  I don’t know why I’m putting it off, cause it has been finished for about a year, it’s been in that stage for about a year.  But I’ll finish that in January or February.  No, the album that comes out in April is called Lido.   And it’s an instrumental album; instrumentals that are ostensibly about open-air swimming pools or each instrumental has a title of an open-air swimming pool in Britain.  Some of them are closed, and don’t exist anymore and some of them do exist.

Are the closed ones rather reverb-y?

DH: Yeah, kind of, or just sadder, you know, just the ones that shut are sad.  There are quite a few fun things with field recordings where – some of them are sort of inaudible, they’re buried within the songs – but I used field recordings, using things like these (points to my Dictaphone), of the lidos.  Then I decided for the ones that are closed that I would do field recordings of where they used to be.  So I did field recordings in a street by where a lido used to be and I thought that was funny, I quite liked that idea.

Where did you get the idea to do this?

DH:  I listen to mainly instrumental music, now.  And I find myself wanting to make it and do it, and I always have more tunes, pieces of music, than I do lyrics.  Often pulling stuff together is about putting words on a lot of these things.  And the last couple of albums, it had been my intention for them to have one or two instrumentals on.  But it always seemed like when it came to the crunch to choose, I guess because I’m known for words, that they would get left off.  So I had a pile of seven or eight pretty good ones and then I still wanted a theme to link them.  And I listened to them and thought ‘what do they remind me of?’ Some of the songs are re-titled and attached to this idea but then I wrote another – I think there’s maybe 14 on the record – so I wrote another seven or so, actually writing them with the idea in mind, and trying to unify it and bring it together and make it sound like a piece.  I really like what instrumental music can do for you as a listener. I do find words get in the way a little bit, I find that instrumental music, what it makes me feel sometimes, it does something that lyrical music can’t.  But I do realize this is sort of a problematic direction for me to go in because people who like my records, I think, they tend to tell me this, that they like my words so…I’m not expecting that I can get away with it all the time –

Who do you listen to instrumentally?

DH: Jazz, actually.  I’ve got really into jazz. There comes a time in every man’s life where he does, you know, even if you think it’s never gonna happen to you.  But not particularly frenetic jazz, I like the label ECM, which kinda specializes in very somber, minor key, slow jazz.  I particularly like Charlie Haden, double-bass player who used to play with Ornette Coleman, does these albums under the name The Liberation Music Orchestra.  Which is political, if that can be possible with instrumental music.  Quite political albums, he did one about the Spanish Civil War, and the recent one was called Not In Our Name which was about America, I guess, and America’s relation to the rest of the world.  He did sort of destroyed versions of The Star-Spangled Banner and things.  It’s odd, cause you think ‘how can instrumental music be political?’ but you get it when you listen to it.

Do you have any personal highlights from the past year?

DH: (thinks)…I enjoyed the experience of doing January Songs, I’m still not as convinced as other people are that it’s actually that good, really.  I think it had the odds stacked against it being particularly…good.  You know, because of the pressure of time.

I know it’s not a specific event, but an overall highlight is when Twitter and when that kind of new way of engaging with the audience, when that works I guess is a highlight.  So on parts of January Songs I thought that worked really well and that was really fun.  I’ve met a lot of people this year so I suppose that’s a highlight.  But I’m also wary about doing it wrong.  And I do think that I get it wrong sometimes and I do think a lot of my contemporaries get it wrong.  But yeah, maybe just the feeling around January Songs was a highlight, what it did for me, what it did for my social circle, maybe rather than what it might have done creatively, might be a highlight.

How do you and your contemporaries get it wrong?  

DH: I’m kind of on record for this but I really don’t like the model of fan-funding.  I don’t agree with that, I think it is selling out.  I think it is just asking for money, I think it’s making your base intentions of what you’re doing all too clear.  That ‘I need money to do this’.  Cause I guess I have a much more romantic notion of the artist, you know, who just buys a loaf of bread because he needs to buy guitar strings.  And I think also there’s something problematic in being an artist and asking for money up front, for work you haven’t done yet.  Because I think you are then working to commission.  Or you are working with a patron.  And in some way, the purchaser, the customer, or the audience must be an influence.  So when I was talking just now about Charlie Haden, I sort of have a romantic idea that he has these crazy ideas about doing a political instrumental album about the Spanish Civil War and that sort of thing happens because he’s not thinking about the audience at all, he’s thinking about what he wants to do and then he throws it open to us.  And I think the whole idea of paying musicians and artists up front…that’s another problem with fan-funding, what you’re doing as an artist is saying ‘I’m reliable.  I’m trustworthy.  You know that sort of thing I do, I’ll do it again.  I do that thing all the time.  You can pay me for it cause you know my stuff, I’ll do the same again.’  And once again that isn’t what I want from an artist.  I want an artist to confound me.  I don’t want him to be a sure bet.  I don’t definitely want my £10 worth.  I want him to do whatever he wants, I want him to record himself shitting in a bucket or something and then I’ll make the choice of whether I buy it or not.  Also, on top of that, I mean that’s what I’ve got with the actual concept of it, but also alongside that is how that idea has been extended into pledge-only gigs, and you can pay me to have dinner with me, or you can pay extra money to see the soundcheck and all that.  And so to bring it back to the conversation about Twitter in general, Facebook and things, I feel that having a dialogue and talking to the audience about creativity is good but I do think there is also a reason to not have that completely open transaction and retain something.  Likewise again, I keep bringing it back to my favourite musician Charlie Haden, I think I would go off him a bit if he talked about what he was watching on TV everyday, I think that would make me go off his fantastic double-bass playing a little bit.

I guess it’s different for most artists who write maybe 10 songs a year and think to make an album whereas you who are a very prolific songwriter, constantly getting stuff out there.

DH: I’ve had this conversation to the point of an argument, lots of times, but nobody’s really convinced me of any other way.  I mean if you don’t write enough songs or if you’re not a quick songwriter, I don’t see any reason why anyone has to be quick just because I’m quick, it’s not like I’m saying ‘oh, they’re lazy because they don’t write quick songs’, but if the economics of the situation don’t make a living then they just don’t, it’s a free market we live in, isn’t it?  If your 10 songs don’t make you a living, then get a job.  Everyone else has to.  Something like fan-funding or Pledge, I was thinking we should really have things like for nurses, shouldn’t we?  And fireman, people that actually are genuinely underpaid and work hard and genuinely haven’t got any other way.  If you were going to give certain people in society more money than they’re used to getting per hours of work, then the last thing I would think about giving extra money to would be musicians (smiles).  I do concede there’s a problem, I do think that the music industry’s fucked, and I think I’m fucked.  And I’m thinking of ways to make extra money.  I did an art exhibition this year.   And I think I make certain choices that even I’m wary of leaning that way a little bit sometimes.  A couple friends of mine have done subscription things, like a label which runs on a subscription, and I thought that was quite interesting, and then I suddenly thought ‘is that the same? is that Pledge? you’re still paying up front’.  So I guess I’m criticizing a solution and aware that I’m not necessarily offering an alternative solution.

What was your art exhibition?

DH:  I did an art exhibition in September with four other artists called Vostok 5 and we did paintings about people and animals in space.  Yeah, I did loads of tiny little paintings of dogs in space.  And it went well, and that made me money.  So in terms of me trying to preserve this as a living, and this would be another example, I suppose you’re trying to make everything worth the money a little more. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do.  I guess I’m trying to get more money out of the people that like what I do but I’m trying to do more for them to get it. But also, I just don’t see why getting a job is such a bad thing anyway.  If this failed, if a couple of records failed, I like what I do enough to fund it through a job.  Wouldn’t scare me.  I’ve done it before, I’ve done it more recently than people might think.  Four years ago I was working in a shop.  I’ve no trouble with doing that.  That seems to me to be much easier than going on the internet and sayin’ ‘Please give me money’.  I know which one would make me sleep better.  So that’s what I would do if I couldn’t support…get a job.  Clean something, that’s better isn’t it, it’s more dignified, isn’t it, than asking for money.

Has doing the artwork for these covers (handdrawing individual covers for all 1500 cds) gotten to be a struggle at any point?

DH:  A little bit, yeah, but then I like struggle…in creativity, and creativity should be a struggle.  And I don’t set myself easy challenges, there’s no point in setting yourself easy challenges, as in challenges that you know you can do.  I like the idea because it’s experimental in the way that the record was.  Because lots of people wanted me to release it and I think some people wanted it to be like DVDs and quite lavish.  And I felt that that was inappropriate because I’ve spent a lot longer on less songs than these.  It felt like it was an experiment.  But then I felt by doing the cover this way it becomes an experiment, this also becomes odd, and individual.

Yeah, I saw on your tumblr for January Songs you weren’t sure about the physical release because –

DH: I wasn’t really sure until I had this idea. We even started working on it back in June/July, started work on a DVD and started thinking about packaging ideas and then I kinda pulled the rug…I said ‘no, I don’t want to release it’.  But then thinkin’ this idea and this idea being timed so it could come out in January, it seemed to make sense.  But I’m still quite keen to have this in the shops or whatever, I’ll do a couple of shows from it, but then really close a door on it.  I feel like I quite would like the January Songs things to be cordoned off a little bit, and the cd exist…but if these cds sell out I don’t know if I’d repress.  And I never really feel like playing the songs live either, they just seem to exist well in that month, and then those videos…it seems strange to revisit them. I don’t know why.  It’s not that they aren’t good, some of them are very good.  There’s two or three, three or four really good songs on it –

Do you want to name those?

DH: Yeah, I really like the one I wrote for Elizabeth, I Know I Fucked Up.

 

I really like a song I wrote about the library closures called Shh…, which was made with a Spanish band (Litoral), they wrapped all of their instruments around the song, it’s really curious cause I had very little to do with it, I just wrote it in the morning and sent it to them-

This was all done in a day?

DH: Yeah.  And also someone else in Madrid made the video the same day but they didn’t know the band, so I sent the demo, like just a guitar and vocal thing, to the video guy and the musicians and then we managed to put it together.  What else?  A song called Let Out The Sides which was very hard, we were recording the drums and I still hadn’t really written it.  The drummer was there and said ‘What should I do?” I said “I don’t know. Do some drums, record some drums for three minutes”.  Really, really hard to cobble that together but then it turned out to be stronger than some of the other ones.

I like No Different For Girls.

DH:  Okay.  I like that too.

Were there any days you didn’t feel like writing?

DH:  Yeah, yeah, but that’s the point, I hoped that was gonna be the case.  And as I say, perhaps the day of the song Let Out The Sides was it.  There was a couple of days before that where I sort of had the tune and then I really didn’t realize that I had written it before.  I was singin’ it and thought ‘that’s alright’ and I was getting quite confused about all these songs in my head and then doing them.  And I was thinkin’ ‘No, that is the one from three days ago’ cause I had a song in my head from three days ago but obviously hadn’t gone through the usual kind of reflection and editing process, and then thought it was new.  And there is one song that’s almost another one, it’s just in a slightly different key.  But then the day I did the spoken word was one of those days, when I thought ‘oh, let’s just not do a song, let’s do a sound thing and say a story over it’.  Although it was important to me that they were all something that your mum would call a song.  Cause it would be easy if I started getting into sort of drones and atonal, which I could and I would enjoy, but I think everything had to be recognizably a song, with words and lyrics.  And likewise I didn’t feel it was appropriate to do an instrumental, I feel like once I set myself the task, that words and music had to always be involved.

Do you have any methods for kickstarting inspiration when it’s not there?

DH:  Well, with this it just became that by midday at the latest, or with the collaborations that were more technical and more involved it would even be earlier, that you had to have something started.  So it became that it just did have to be almost whatever you saw, or whatever was said, you know my wife said something to me before she went out, ‘Oh, I’ve got a meeting with the duh-duh…today’, and it just sort of had to be that.  And I suppose that what makes us take a long time over creativity is indecision and that’s the thing that was stripped from it, there was just no indecision.  So if this was January Songs now I guess I’d write a song (looking around room, spotting ceiling decorations) called Red Ribbon and that doesn’t seem that bad a title already.  So sometimes when you look at something enough, it’s viable.  Most ideas are viable if you can shore them up and think of a way or a context or a place for it to exist.  Which implies you can sing a song about anything, but then you probably can.  But that isn’t the way I would normally work, normally I would…or maybe it is, I do find inspiration quite easy but I guess the difference in what I do when I’m not doing January Songs is that I edit quite fiercely. I rewrite lyrics a lot and that’s the thing I couldn’t do in January Songs, and that’s sometimes what I hear in them as well, I sometimes think ‘Ah! I’d just have done that, maybe, to make it better’.

On February 1st did a song pop into your head?

DH:  No, I was quite happy to stop.  I think I didn’t write a song for about a month, maybe.  In fact, actually this year hasn’t been much about writing songs, oddly. I mean, I wrote tons in January, but I haven’t written a lot of songs this year.  It looks like I have but it’s mainly been about how to release them and making everything around the music interesting.  I’ve started writing in the last couple of weeks a bit more again, and I had to write a couple of songs for the Vostok 5 thing, but I haven’t written a lot of songs this year.  It never worries me though, never.

So The Ship’s Piano, was that before (this year)?  That’s a really lovely album.  

DH: Yeah, I feel like at some point in about a year’s time when everything’s out I should perhaps actually write out on the website or something what the order is that they were made in, it’s like the chronology is all thrown now.  Ship’s Piano was made before January Songs and was made in tandem with The Violence, I was making them together really.  The Violence, which is the Essex witch trials record, is so intensive in terms of research and so hard, just hard to write those songs, that I thought it’d be good to have a side project alongside it that would just be much more about whatever I fancy.  And that became The Ship’s Piano and in the end The Ship’s Piano became finished first, mainly because of this thing where I got attacked.  And it seemed much easier to do that sort of music, to do restful, plaintive music.  I listened to it recently and I think it does inform the lyrics slightly, the attack.  But it was more that just doing that sort of music and making that sort of record was good therapy for recovering from it, just because I had headaches and I was very dizzy, things like that.

How are you doing now?

DH:  Fine.  I was fine quite quickly.  I was dizzy for a long time and had headaches for about three or four months.  And it was quite curious, the thing that it was, apparently our ears help us, our sense of balance and direction, so where they kept hitting me they dislodged like these crystals and that’s why my ear felt it was like a foot over there, so that was causing me this dizziness.  But the treatment for it was just a series of exercises, I just had to lie this way and lie that way and count to a certain number and then do that again, just to make them go back into the right place.  It was kinda amazing, really, cause I was walking around for two months going ‘I’ve got brain damage’ and then I went to see a specialist and they went ‘oh no, do this for a week and it’ll stop’ and it did.  (laughs) It was crazy that medicine can still be things like that – rub your head a little bit and put a honeysuckle under your chin and you’ll be better (laughs).  So yeah, I’m fine.

I Taught You How To Dance is one of my favourite songs of the year, anything to say about that one?

DH:  Ok, thank you.  I like that it’s a bit like a standard.  Sometimes when you’re in a situation like…you’re at someone’s wedding, and this doesn’t happen really, but you sometimes feel like if somebody went ‘Oh, Darren’ll do a song, Darren knows a song’ and then you’re seeing like old people and young people and children and I’ve just often felt I’ve got nothing for that situation. Like just a stand-by, just like a love song which doesn’t talk about prostitutes or money or any horrible things.  So that was the idea behind it, to write like a cruise ship song, and it sounds like a cruise ship song to me, it sounds like you’d have the mirror ball going around whilst it was playing.  There’s nothing particularly special about it. I quite like the title, it started from the title and I quite liked a love song having an arrogant title.  I liked the idea of the song coming from a point of arrogance, cause it would be naturally more romantic to say ‘You Taught Me How To Dance’, would be the more emphatic way to structure the song, so I quite like that as a writing challenge.

How did you choose the covers for the EP? 

DH:  Like a lot of my ideas, I just had the idea and once I had the idea, I couldn’t let it go.  And I really coulda done without doing that, actually.  I remember then I was busy, and I was like ‘god, I’ve got to record those three songs now’…Because I like them all, maybe I don’t like I Don’t Wanna Dance, it just seemed like that was funny and I kinda was trying to…with quite a lot of songs once you look at lyrics it’s quite easy to see a slightly different meaning than the one you think and I Don’t Wanna Dance once you looked at it, it was clearly…he’s being quite possessive and it’s that sort of thing, he’s like ‘I want to lock you in a box so other men don’t see you’ is kind of what’s happening in the song.  So I thought that was curious once I realized that was what the song was about.

But the other two songs, Come Dancing by The Kinks and Dance Away (Roxy Music) I’ve always liked.  I really like the key change in Dance Away, technically, there’s this key change down, it’s very simple.  And you don’t think of Bryan Ferry as being that smart, do you?  And Come Dancing’s really good!  It’s also funny as well when you do covers like that, cause I’ve listened to that song loads of times and always thought it was really good, this really sweet short story about his sister, really, it’s a song about his sister.  And the opposite really of the Eddy Grant song, no real sexual menace in the idea, cause after the first verse you think ‘oh, well is his sister sort of a loose woman?’ but actually what it is is she’s taking the guys dancing because she doesn’t want to sleep with them, she just wants to dance.  And then she leaves them outside her house and frustrates them, because all she wants to do is dance.  But it’s funny, you listen to it and go ‘oh Ray Davies is really great, this’ll be amazing, I’ll do that’ and then (laughs) I was working out the chords and putting the song together and I got to the middle 8 and I was like ‘you know, this middle 8 really does drag’ (laughs).  It’s quite funny, you do find yourself thinking ‘ehhhh, you should’ve had me around’, so I chopped out half the middle 8 cause I felt it really did drag a little bit in the middle 8.  And I never thought that when I listened to it (laughing), I always thought it was faultless.  I suppose it’s not really about you think it’s better without the middle 8, it’s about you thinking it’s better for me with a shorter middle 8.  I thought that was quite audacious to start chopping it up and (laughs) making it a bit better.  I did that with the Blue Christmas cover last week as well, there’s a line in there I thought ‘I don’t like that line, I’m not singing that line, I’ll sing a different line’.

How was getting everything together for the Dead Media reissue?  

DH: As always it was fuckin’ painful.  Well to be honest, all of that work had been done a few years ago.  A few years ago I got a friend in New York to do it all, really, not the artwork but the remastering and I just boxed everything up, tapes and cds, and sent it all over to my friend Joël, quite a while ago now, about 2006 even.  And he put them together and I gave a cursory listen to approve, but he compiled them and put them together.  So they’ve been sittin’ there for some time and when I get a moment I go back to them and just find the masters that he made and then release them, and do the cover.  Cause it doesn’t really hold too much interest to me, to go through all that.  Although on occasion it does mean I’ve worked out that we’ve missed something, so I have occasionally found something and thought ‘Ah! We didn’t put that on the duh-duh…reissue” and found some things that might’ve even been better.  But I just find that stuff really hard work.  Yeah, I don’t know what the highlight was (of the year) but that’s definitely the lowlight for me.  I mean I want it to be done, and I think it makes good business sense to do the reissues, it’s silly to have your material not available and also I do want it to be available.  It’s not for me to judge what somebody else’s favourite thing of mine is.  So if somebody said ‘My favourite thing was always Dead Media’, that’s fine.  So I think it’s valid work to spend the time and put it out.  But it’s just not new, it’s just old.

Speaking of which, The Hefner Brain was always my favourite Hefner thing.  I know it’s not the popular opinon-

DH: I like that.  I think that…more than any of the records, the Dead Media reissue does show that picking the right songs to go on the record might not have been a great strength of ours.  And also some other songs that could’ve been on Dead Media are on that Catfight record.  And I think if you go through all of that, it’s quite clear now to see that there was a better record.  Yeah, I like The Hefner Brain.

Yeah, Dark Hearted Discos I think is just an amazing song.

DH:  I like that.  (laughs) I like the fact the synths are a bit out of tune.  But, in a way that you can’t be sure that it’s not making it better, in a way.  Yeah, I like the cover.  On the vinyl, the cover’s different.  The cd has the woman with the gun and the vinyl has, I think it’s inside, you have all the drum machines.

I’ve often said that there’s something about a really great pop song that’s akin to the feeling you have after you first kiss someone you’ve really fancied for a while.  What do you think’s inherent in all great pop music?

DH: (thinks for a while) It’s maybe, it’s maybe…sexual tension, isn’t it, with pop songs?  Isn’t that what pop songs…I get cautious when men our age talk about pop songs, so I don’t really know what makes a pop song now.  And I think sometimes, when we talk about pop songs, we talk about alternate universe pop songs, like can we include Television or Big Star in pop songs?  (laughs) Cause sometimes we do, don’t we, sometimes we mean that.

I think so.

DH: Or sometimes we just mean what’s the Top 10.

No, broadly speaking.

DH: Okay, so we’re talking like what makes popular music-

Or just music in general, a song you love. 

DH:  I think that’s the root of a lot of it.  A sort of underlying tension.  A lack of fulfillment, I don’t think that there’s too many great songs I can think of that are just about everything being fine.  I think that the best songs sound effortless.  And from my experience, that often, although not always, has something to do with their creation, as well.  I would say I Taught You How To Dance is my pop song this year.  And even though I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the best, I would say it’s the most successful pop song, and that was very easy to write.  Sometimes I don’t like songs where I can hear the parts.  I know lots of people really like The Smiths, but to my ears I can always tell that someone wrote the words and someone wrote the music.  It always seems really obvious to me, that someone has just draped words on top of a jam. I think both the parts are brilliant and I think they are good, but it always stops me loving them really.  Cause I always feel it might’ve been better if Morrissey had learned how to play guitar.  I do. Cause I think you then make the music, you write them simultaneously, and you make them do that (intertwines fingers) rather than doing that (claps hands together).  I find it a bit strange, songwriting duos, where one does – I suppose the exception somewhat would be Bacharach and David, they’re quite good songs and one of them was definitely the lyric writer and one was definitely the music writer, weren’t they?  I would even say, I mean Lennon/McCartney are talked about as a songwriting partnership but they really weren’t.  As everyone knows, they really weren’t.  And I find co-writing hard. I certainly haven’t ever really successfully co-written lyrics.  Sometimes accidents happen between two people and that’s quite interesting.  ‘But did you mean that?  I thought you meant that! Ah yeah, but that’s quite good what you did, that’s quite good.’  And you find it was accidents, so you find something you would never have thought of through misunderstanding.

I don’t know, also I suppose the unexplainable, that’s what makes pop songs good as well.  Something that you can’t put your finger on.  You know, no matter how much theory or however many times you write a song, and that brings me back to January Songs a bit… There are plenty of songwriting tricks, there are certain things I know.  I know what a key change up or down does, I know what it means to only write a verse in minor chords and only change to major chords on the chorus, or how to use a forced major in a chord sequence.  So I know how to do all those things but none of them necessarily make me write a better song than the guy who’s just learned his first two chords.  So there’s certainly, yeah, the unexplainable involved.

And my standard last question is – say you’ve stolen a space shuttle and are flying it directly into the sun, for whatever reason, what would the soundtrack be?

DH:  Has anyone given the answer before that it should be Ride Into The Sun by Velvet Underground?

No, no one actually has.

DH: Well, there you go.  It’s a Velvet Underground outtake, I think, but it’s also on Lou Reed’s first album.  Ride Into The Sun, it’s called.  There you go.

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