Unhappy talk

ROCK Luke Haines is not your average pop star. Ryan Gilbey talks to the man who would break both his ankles rather than be 'too in tune with the music business'

"HE WON'T stand for any rock'n'roll rubbish. He has no ambition to sell a million records. He knows exactly what he's doing, which a lot of people don't. And he's not afraid to stick his head above the parapet."

Luke Haines is talking about Steve Albini, the maverick producer who worked on After Murder Park (Hut), the new album by Haines's band, the Auteurs. But he might as well have been describing himself. For the qualities that Haines admires in Albini are the same qualities that his own fans treasure in him: individuality, capriciousness, irreverence and an uncanny knack for rubbing people up the wrong way. A week after the Brixton riots, Haines reveals that the troubled district has recently been wallpapered with Auteurs posters depicting two lumpen body-bags beneath the spray- painted legend "Good Cop, Bad Cop".

Even without the new admirers this will win him amongst the officers of the Met, the list of people who wouldn't touch Haines with a bargepole is already as long as - well, a bargepole: Matt Johnson of The The, various ex-associates immortalised in song, a few former colleagues who turn as gnarled and nasty as a Haines lyric whenever his name crops up ("Give Luke my hate," hisses one). Elvis Costello might have had him in mind when he wrote, "You're nobody till everybody in this town thinks you're a bastard."

Yet in person, Haines exudes a buoyancy which belies his reputation. The piercing stare and severe brow might suggest a crazed serial killer who's having a bad day. But when we meet, Haines has just spent the afternoon picking out a Christmas present for his father. How many serial killers do you know who will trudge around the West End to find their dad that special something?

"Yes, I'm always cast as the pissed-off granddad staring ruefully into his pint," he says, staring ruefully into his pint. "And I'm not. I like a good time. But I like it on my own terms."

That goes for everything. After Haines formed the Auteurs in 1992, following the dissolution of his former band, Servants ("Polite white boys not hitting their guitars very hard," he grimaces), it seemed as though the nation's ears belonged to him. A punchy debut album, New Wave, got his foot in the record collection of all those who had been waiting for pop music that could fuse the bite of early Costello with the poignancy of Leonard Cohen and the abrasiveness of The Fall. Almost all of the judges in the 1993 Mercury Music Prize approved: the album missed the award by a single vote.

If the Auteurs ever harboured a plan for world domination, it careered off the rails right after that. But you can tell by the way Haines proudly reels off his pathetic chart positions that this is a man who never dreamed of swapping hair-care tips with Rod Stewart on the slopes of St Moritz.

"When we started out, we were my dream band," he enthuses. "Dead ropey. Very confrontational. We were not entertainment. We were a garage band who should never have been let out of the garage." However, by the time they took to the road with their 1994 follow-up, the piercing-but-polished Now I'm a Cowboy, things had changed. "The last tour was weird," Haines recalls. "We were playing well, singing well. I was being reasonably nice to the audience." He shakes his head in shame. "We were not the band that I wanted us to be."

Somehow, the increasingly ill-tempered Auteurs struggled around America and most of Europe, until Haines had the bright idea of jumping off a wall in Spain, breaking both his ankles.

"We had become too in tune with the music business, which is why I ended that period. When I broke my ankles it felt like a symbolic act. It was an accident, but it could have been in some way deliberate. I couldn't walk for three months afterwards. I dropped out, and was only near becoming a person again at the start of last year."

Haines wrote most of After Murder Park during the time he spent entombed in the basement of his north London flat, lurching from room to room in a wheelchair. It shows. Darkness and rage permeate every corner of this claustrophobic work like mustard gas. Luckily enough, the album also happens to feature the finest things that Haines has ever written: raw, incisive songs whose combination of pained melodies and painful guitars makes your heart and your ears bleed. The arrangements are also the Auteurs' most adventurous yet, making poignant use of cello and French horn on the fragile "Unsolved Child Murder".

But pop songs aren't normally about child murders, unsolved or otherwise. They don't explore the mechanics of anarchy and terrorism, like Haines's moonlighting project Baader Meinhof. Nor does pop music generally concern itself with domestic violence ("Married to a Lazy Lover"), alcoholism ("Dead Sea Navigators") or light aircraft on fire ("Light Aircraft on Fire").

"No," he laughs, "but these are the things I'm interested in. Most of my songs are about revenge. I've always felt unsettled, even as a kid. That's weird, isn't it? I'm pretty much motivated by bile and revenge. And that driven force, that sense of never being content, is actually what makes me happy.

"You need conflict to thrive. The whole Britpop thing walks hand in hand with New Labour - the pathetic thing of wanting to please people. You shouldn't ever want to be liked. You shouldn't try and impress. Just have an opinion, stick your head out and be prepared to get a kick in the mouth."

Haines is currently recording a Baader Meinhof album which should see him get that all-important kick in the mouth. "It will be a collection of songs associated with European terrorism," he declares, deadpan. "That stuff's going to be big this year. Bands are going to be into Euro-terrorism, I can tell. It's on the cards. The NME thought the Baader Meinhof single was irresponsible and wouldn't review it initially. This moral high-ground is bizarre, and it makes bands scared of the press. I want to see bands battering journalists again, some real 'them and us' stuff. None of this 'all down the Good Mixer together'. Let's see the battle-lines drawn."

And if ever there was a musical manifesto for war, it's After Murder Park. "I don't think anyone else will have anything else out like it," he grins. "They probably won't have anything else out after it. Ever."

He leans back, entertained by the thought of a universe bereft of Britpop, and suddenly looks like the happiest man in the world.

! 'After Murder Park' is released on xx xxx.

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower