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interview with Nick Hemming

- I think this is first interview for Japan? So first of all, I want to ask you a basic question...How did you meet Christian and start The Leisure Society?

We come from the same small town, Burton-on-Trent. About 6 years ago Christian asked me to move down to London to join his band, I'd just split with my girlfriend & I was doing a job I hated, so I thought a move would do me good. I spent 6 months sleeping on his couch, which was where I wrote most of the songs for The Sleeper. Up until that point The Leisure Society was just me recording alone in the studio, when Christian heard the songs he encouraged me to start playing them live & that's when we started assembling the band.

- How did you feel when " The Last Of The Melting Snow" was nominated for Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically? And the next year "Save It For Someone Who Cares" was nominated for same award as well. I think it's a remarkable accomplishment for indie-bands...were you surprised at that second chance or did you gain your confidence then?

The first nomination was an incredible surprise, especially when TV cameras started turning up at the warehouse where I was working at the time! It was all a bit overwhelming but it did me good I think: up until that point I was really shy & avoided interviews & things like that, but the media furor thrust me into the spotlight & I had to get over my shyness very quickly! The second nomination was just as surprising as the first, to be nominated two consecutive years was unbelievable.

- Your ex-band mates Shane Meadows, Paddy Considine and you are successful in each ways after many years since the band's end...what do you think of it now?

It is strange that three friends from such a small town all went on to be successful. It was always obvious Shane & Paddy would do well, they had such big, infectious personalities. They found success relatively quickly whereas mine was more of a long & winding road. We have another friend from the same town who went on to be fashion director at Russian Vogue so there must be something inspirational about Burton-on-Trent.... I think people are inspired to escape it!

- Which do you usually write music or lyrics first?

The music always comes first. I'll usually start on a Guitar or Ukulele & sing nonsense to myself until, eventually, the right words tumble out. It often takes me a long time to finish the lyrics though - I hate bad song lyrics so I tend to obsess over them. The title track on the new album, Into The Murky Water, took more than two years to finish.

- I was really looking forward to your 2nd album. After the success of 1st album, I imagine you felt some pressures to make 2nd one...what kind of album did you want to make at an earlier point? And what are differences between the recording (process and method, musicians involved etc.) of "The Sleeper" and "Into the Murky Water"?

I did feel a bit of pressure, which manifested itself in terrible insomnia. With the first album I was just writing songs for myself but with this one I felt we had an audience eager to hear what would happen next. The main difference with the recording process was the fact that we actually played together as a live band first. Me, Christian, Bas, Darren & Helen went away to the countryside & jammed the new songs together. We then recorded the rhythm parts & used that as the base of the recordings. That took about a week, the rest was recorded in my flat over the following 7 months. There was a constant stream of musicians coming & going, my neighbours must have wondered what we were up to.

-" Into the Murky Water"...the title is so impressive and I took it as your decisiveness. Why did you choose this for album title?

That was a phrase that just 'tumbled out' as I was writing the song. It's a metaphor for the uncertainties of life but it was probably partly inspired by my love of the sea. I actually spent a few months traveling around the British coastline seeking inspiration. I eventually finished the song lyrics after reading Albert Camus' The Fall. We realised that it would make a great title for the second album: on the cover of the Sleeper the pink man is poised at the edge of the diving board - in a way this album is about what he finds once he dives in.

- I was so amazed at your more mature songwriting and more sensitive arrangement on this album. It seems to me a strong and beautiful will like as you wanted to be a best songwriter / best band in UK! Please let me know your heart and message you put into it.

We definitely approached this album wanting to make a future classic. We obsessed over every note on every instrument. I actually recorded the Marimba on the title track with three different musicians just to get the right sound, which involved a lot of traveling around with a car full of recording equipment. There were no compromises with the recording, which meant it was a very long process. Once the album is mixed you can't go back & change anything, so you have to do your very best. I'm glad you approve of the results! :)

- Lyrically, there seems to be slight changes between 2nd and 1st...more positive and full of hopes. What do you think of it? Especially I like "I Shall Forever Remain an Amateur". As you sing so even though you are so professional to make such a great album.

I was really quite depressed when I wrote the first album, the songs were cathartic & I just found it comforting to write them. I definitely wrote this album from a much happier place. I started writing I Shall Forever Remain An Amateur the week after I left my day job in the warehouse (to become a professional musician). There's a certain element of irony in the title but at the same time I will always feel like something of an amateur. It feels like an incredible privilege finally being able to make a living doing something I love.

- I think The Beach Boys influenced your songs. Do you have anyone who influenced your music?

The Beach Boys are definitely my biggest musical influence, along with The Beatles. I love the way Brian Wilson uses orchestration. I'm lucky because Helen, who plays flute in the band, goes to Trinity Music College in London. It means we've had access to any instrument we want on this album - & we took full advantage of that! Songwriting-wise I'm probably influenced most by Ray Davies.

- Please let me know about Willkommen Collective...I think it's a loose collective. Actually how are you holding together?

The Willkommen Collective is a group of like-minded musicians put together by an old friend of mine, Tom Cowan. We all play in each others bands & occasionally play shows together. Unfortunately I haven't seen much of the collective for the past year as I've been a bit of a hermit making this album! We're all very good friends though, they are all based down in Brighton & they've been working on various projects & releasing some great albums.

- You made such a amazing album that I think become history. What do you think your goal or next step?

The next step is to go on the road & play the songs live. We're really looking forward to it as it can drive you a bit crazy spending too much time in the studio! I've already started writing the next album, but I'm keeping that to myself for now so we can concentrate on Into The Murky Water. We're all immensely proud of this album & we want as many people to hear it as possible!



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