Dylan Jones: 'Richard Hawley has a deep baritone voice so rich it sounds almost ironic'

Share
Related Topics

Richard Hawley is the Roy Orbison of the Tens. With his dour demeanour, large-frame spectacles, Bill Haley-standard quiff (grease, I think, not gel) and his velvet-collared jacket, Hawley is a real oddity, an entertainer who has made it his business to walk the walk of the singular and the aloof. He is anachronistic to a T.

He is genuinely gifted, though. Hawley, born in Sheffield in 1967, bumped around the fringes of Britpop during the 1990s as a member of both the Longpigs and Pulp, and a confidante of Jarvis Cocker. But it is as a crooner that he has achieved notoriety.

A late developer? Well, perhaps, but it's almost as though it were a business plan. Hawley has a deep baritone, a voice so rich it sounds almost ironic (did someone in the cheap seats mention Jim Reeves?). He isn't averse to using sweeping strings or old-fashioned showbiz arrangements, and you could be forgiven for thinking – on initial hearing – that Hawley is rather orthodox.

However, if you squint with your ears, then all becomes clear. He wants to be epic, but on his terms. Just listen to the echo, the vibrato, the longueurs, the wistful nature of the chord changes. Scott Walker, one of pop's most extreme examples of the tortured crooner, says that Hawley is right up there with the best. Which we have to assume is a compliment. "All I set out to do was make the music that I wanted to hear," he has said, "Music that was gentle without being pedestrian. This job is pretty selfish in that respect."

His classic song remains "Open Up Your Door" (a ballad that reeks of melancholia, and which was used in a TV advertisement for ice cream), while his quasi-Springsteen tune "Tonight the Streets Are Ours" (which featured in the Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop) sounds as though it ought to have been covered by U2 or Green Day. Maybe it eventually will be.

Hawley likes to say he was born opposite a graveyard, and next to a butcher and a taxidermist – a more than perfect metaphor for his creative microclimate. Gruff, rough round the edges, and terse when it suits him, he has made the noir lullaby something of a speciality.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Fertility Nurse

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Walt Palmer (left), from Minnesota, who killed Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion  

Walter Palmer killed Cecil the Lion with a bow to show off – and now he's discovering what it's like to be hunted

Louis Theroux
English fashion model Cara Delevingne (C) sticks her tongue out as she poses for pictures with award presenter Poppy Delevigne (L) and Joan Smalls after she won 'Model of the Year' award during the British Fashion Awards 2014 in London  

Cara Delevingne's 'car crash' TV appearance says more about her interviewers than her

Cassie Davies
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash