Ipswich: Ex-Inspiral Carpets frontman Tom Hingley on fame and his gig at The Rep

Tom Hingley coming to The Rep, Ipswich, on March 2.

Tom Hingley coming to The Rep, Ipswich, on March 2. - Credit: Archant

Inspiral Carpets were one of the leaders of the Manchester movement. Alongside The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, they changed music for a whole generation. Ex-frontman Tom Hingley tells entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE about what it felt like to be in the eye of a pop hurricane and what happens when the hits end and the arguments kick in.

Tom Hingley and Inspiral Carpets

Tom Hingley and Inspiral Carpets - Credit: Archant

“We certainly were one of the biggest bands in Britain. It’s a privilege for your music to have been listened to by millions of people and sell a million records; if you stop seeing it as a privilege you probably need your head examining,” says Tom, on his way to a gig in Whitehaven, Cumbria.

Found endlessly touring the UK in figures of eight most nights of the year as a solo artist and with his band The Lovers, he’s at The Rep, Ipswich, on March 2 as part of Furry LIVE.

“It should be good. I play that (Inspiral Carpets) stuff. (Some people) do solo gigs and refuse to play any of the stuff (that made them famous); it’s not a good idea to do that because audiences want to hear it and refusing to play it is almost inferring too much significance. I’m not into not making fans happy.

“It ain’t going to be a heavy big discussion, the peace settlement at the end of the Second World War; music’s a bit of fun, a bit of escapism. It’s an opportunity and a window for people to share.”

Last year saw the release of his music memoir Carpet Burns - My life with Inspiral Carpets. It’s a story typical of any band signed to a five album deal and their battles to keep the hits coming.

With popular anthems like This Is How It Feels and She Comes In The Fall, several appearances on Top of the Pops and headline gigs at festivals, the band rose to be one of the most popular bands in the country.

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Tom takes you through their original split, the forging of solo careers and a series of reformations until a Tweet he sent brought his time with them to an end. It’s not the usual formulaic memoir.

“Should it be, should a memoir be typical? It should always uncover, it should always be an archaeological dig. We’ve had an enormous reaction to it (despite) the national media (being) totally unaware of the book or disinterested. “

Writing books is sort of the family business.

From a radically different background to his contemporaries, Tom’s father translated the complete works of Chekhov for Oxford University Press and his brother, a professor at Durham University, writes archaeological books.

“I’ve been playing music for 37 years one way or another and I think it’s important when you want to try to excel at a different art form, you don’t just want to be treading water creatively doing the same stuff,” he says of the book, which features all the key characters from the Manchester scene along with fresh insight into a youthful Noel Gallagher who learned his trade as a crew member with Inspiral Carpets before joining his brother to form Oasis. It was difficult to write.

“It’s like any kind of divorce. It’s difficult to walk away from it, even when you get your limb chopped off you’ve still got phantom pain.”

The band, he says, haven’t officially recognised the book even exists.

“It’s one of them things. It’s not surprising I’m no longer with the band, what’s surprising is that we actually managed to hold the whole thing together for 23 years.”

His take on the split?

“They didn’t want to be a band any more... they wanted to be a fobby band, where day-time employment, whether it’s working for the biggest UK agent or being a DJ is outweighing the vestiges of actually being a band. Last year I did 130 gigs, year before I did 140. I do a bit of teaching but on my passport it says I am a musician.

“It’s sad what happened, but I think bands are sad. I think Denis Healey or Churchill said each politician’s career ends in failure and I think that’s probably true. But we can all enjoy in that mythic death, have fun with it.

“The thing about the book is it was, partly, to try to rewrite history because people have been airbrushing the history of the band; people saying we didn’t matter or the only relevant stuff is Noel Gallagher used to work for us is a joke.”

The book, he says, is just his version of events; admitting others in the band might have different views.

“Unless they actually out them or put them to paper no-one’s going to know. It’s not a big serious thing; obviously the most success I had and the best years in my life were in that band, but that’s over now. That band isn’t going any more; there might be a band with that name on it, but you know there are probably things called beef lasagne in the supermarket aren’t there,” he laughs. “What’s in them is slightly different.”

You can follow Tom on Twitter @tomhingleymusic and facebook.com/tomhingleymusic. For all the latest entertainment and events news follow me @WhatsonWayne

Tickets for the gig are available from the Ipswich Regent box office or www.wegottickets.com.

Also coming to The Rep as part of Furry LIVE are Mark Morriss, lead singer of the Bluetones on March 15 and the Dorito’s Mariachi Band on April 12.

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