Shared idea that struck a chord with Miles Hunt
Jan 26 2009 By Jim Emery
The Wonder Stuff’s Miles Hunt talks to Jim Emery about collaborating.
Their paths rarely crossed when they were enjoying their greatest successes but the lead singers of The Wonder Stuff, The Mission and Aztec Camera will be on stage together at Birmingham Town Hall on Friday.
The evening of acoustic performances – called Shared – also features Nick Heyward from 80s band Haircut 100 and singer-songwriter Katell Keineg, alongside The Mission’s Wayne Hussey and Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame.
The event has been organised by Miles Hunt, the mouthpiece of the Midlands’ favourite sons, The Wonder Stuff.
“The offer was made to me and Erica [Nockalls, the band’s violinist] by the Town Hall and we jumped at the chance,” says Miles from his studio in Shropshire. “But as we have just done some big Wonder Stuff gigs I wasn’t sure 1000 people would want to come and see us do something different just three months later.”
So he decided to share his evening with other musicians – hence the title of the presentation.
“There are plenty of people I would like to see doing an acoustic set that I haven’t seen yet,” he continues, “so why not use this as an opportunity to do just that?”
It seems, though, that he has been admiring most of the performers from afar and has only met Roddy and Nick a handful of times.
“The only thing that links them is the fact that I like them,” he laughs, “I don’t know if any of them have even met each other.”
His initial encounter with Roddy Frame back in the late 80s ended in ‘drunken nonsense’ at the famous Rockfield Studios in Wales which has previously played host to Oasis, Coldplay and Queen.
“I think Roddy was recording his big hit, Somewhere In My Heart, and we were starting our second album, Hup,” he recalls.
“They wanted to borrow a harmonica and then about a week later I got given it back and they asked if I wanted a drink as it was their last night in the studio. It was only me and bass player Bob Jones who went and we got slaughtered. Then something occurred that night and Roddy felt bad about it.”
They then didn’t see each other for over 15 years and Roddy still felt the same way even after all that time. When I ask what happened, Miles remains tight-lipped out of respect for Bob who died in 1993. Perhaps it will all come out on the Shared night.
“I suppose we’ll broach the subject but I know it’ll be fine, Roddy’s an absolute gent,” he states.
Miles’s first encounter with pop sensation Nick Heyward was much more innocent. But this time Miles was the one to feel embarrassed as he was only aware of the one album of Nick’s, Pelican West.
“Then I was relieved to hear him say that he had only done the one,” says Miles.
One artist he is very familiar with, though, is his great friend Wayne Hussey who has had chart success with goth faves The Mission and Sisters of Mercy. Neither of these groups would be musically associated with The Wonder Stuff but the friendship has endured.
“I have known Wayne for 25 years,” he says, “and yes, our music isn’t similar. We play the guitar very differently and to sit and write songs together would be a right old chore.”
So instead the pair have managed to remain close by being supporting acts for each other on various tours over the years.
Recently, Wayne has played keyboards on Miles’s tour with Erica.
And as for the little known female on the bill, Katell Keineg?
“I’ve had two of Katell’s records for years and it was a friend, who is also a female singer-songwriter, who played me her stuff. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake for her as I just thought ‘This is you, you’ve been copying Katell Keineg!’”
Katell, born in France, earned her playing stripes in New York and performed at Sin-e, the same venue that got Hallelujah singer Jeff Buckley noticed. She even got to sing with the tragic star as well as recording with the gnarled legend Iggy Pop.
Miles, who is best known for hits Dizzy and Size Of A Cow, is proud to be sharing the stage with such variety and talent, and he hopes that it is only the start for Shared.
“I would like to do at least one more this year but not in London. London gets spoiled with these things all the time. We want to find a nice venue like the Birmingham Town Hall which is a lovely place.”
Shared will also form part of the Heavenly Planet festival in Reading in July. The event will feature world music, poetry and comedy as well as the best of British talent.
Hunt is thrilled to have been given the opportunity and is keen to make the most of it.
“Hopefully it will run and run and we could do a Shared live album. With the mix of people we could get playing together it could be really interesting.”
Miles has a big reputation as a straight-talker, never afraid to voice an opinion on anything or anyone. His current targets are emos in their ‘uniforms they buy in Top Shop’ who have ‘everything provided for them’.
“It strikes me that emo’s not a scene at all really, just someone making a lot of money out of telling them what to do rather than them thinking for themselves.”
Welcome back, Miles, we’ve missed you!
n Shared appear at Birmingham Town Hall on January 30. Tickets: £19.50 from 0121 780 3333. Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls’ second album, Catching More Than We Miss, will be available for a discounted price at the concert.