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26.2 miles in under 3 and a half hours. Sounds easy on paper and I will be posting regular updates, the highs and the lows. Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Miles Hunt prepares for Shared

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 all perform at ‘Shared’ later this month. It’s an evening of acoustic performances at the newly renovated Birmingham Town Hall on January 30th. The eclectic line-up also includes Nick Heyward from eighties band Haircut 100 and singer-songwriter Katell Keineg. The event is being organized by Miles Hunt, the mouthpiece of the Midland’s 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,” he says 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 3 months later.” So he decided to share his evening with other musicians, hence the title. “There are plenty of people I would like to see doing an acoustic set that I haven’t seen yet,” he says, “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. He has only met Roddy and Nick a handful of times between them. “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 eighties ended in ‘drunken nonsense’ at the famous Rockfield Studios in Wales which has previously hosted 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 didn’t see each other then for over 15 years and Roddy still felt the same way even after all that time. When I asked what happened, Miles remained 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. Hunt’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 occasion 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!’” Keineg, 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. Hunt, 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,” he says, “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.” One of his heroes is Paul Weller, did he approach the Modfather himself? “No I didn’t ask Weller! And judging by his behaviour in the tabloids recently, I don’t want a drunk like that there! Anyway, I think me and Wayne will have that covered.” They most probably will. Miles Hunt was never a stranger to drink and cites anti-hero poet and writer Charles Bukowski as a constant reference point. He even penned a song, ‘A Great Drinker’ in his honour. Hunt had a bigger reputation, though, as a straight-talker, never afraid to voice an opinion on anything or anyone. His current targets are emo’s 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.

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