Hi Howard,

Thank you so much for talking to us today..!

At your O2 gig last year (celebrating your 25th Anniversary), you had various band formats – a big band, a duo with guitarist Robin Boult, Trio and the Cyberpunk Trio (laughter from Howard)…  Was this a conscious decision to run through your musical history that way or did it just emerge like that?

“Both really - it does sort of represent the history of things but it is also all the things that I am working on at the moment.  I am doing the acoustic shows with Robin, working with the trio and then working on the album with a string section and a large acoustic band, also doing the HJ Electric band as well – it is what I am doing at the moment rather than a historical thing.  I realised that if you are going to be a survivor you have got to be flexible if the gig calls for just two people then I am happy with that, but if you are playing larger venues then you need a bigger sound”.

You have been in the music business now for 25 years.  How do you feel it has changed, both positively and negatively?

“It is changing very fast, mainly in the way music is delivered to people, causing a massive revolution.  In the past you went down the local record shop and bought your vinyl or CD, but most people now get to have it for free by downloading.  So as a recording artiste how do you make a living?  In the meantime people have had to go back to playing live and earning a living through that.  Difficult to make money from recorded work.  Focus is definitely on the live work - it must be very difficult for musicians who only work in the studio – really they are stuffed and we are being deprived of their work”.

Is touring still enjoyable?

“Yes very much so!  Last tour was earlier this year in Australia and I had one of the best times I have ever had on the road.  We made a video diary of the whole tour and were filming every day and then up half the night uploading it onto the website so fans could get a daily update.  The Australians were great, everything was working properly, really enjoyed playing live very much”.

You are playing West Wycombe in the summer are you looking forward to that gig?

West Wycombe has a great significance for me as I wrote the lyrics for ‘New Song’ on West Wycombe Hill, so I am very much looking forward to going back and playing there.  I am playing as part of the “Here and Now” tour, so it will be mainly the hits that I play”.

When was the last time you played in High Wycombe?

“That was when I launched the ‘Working the Back Room’ album in Wycombe Town Hall.  I am hoping to play Wycombe Swan sometime next year”.

You have now moved out of Buckinghamshire, is there anything you miss about Bucks?

“I spent a large part of my life in High Wycombe and surrounding areas.  Suppose it is how you feel in yourself and how you relate to a place.  It was one of the most exciting times in my life, playing at The Osborne Arms, Nags Head and then London gigs.  Building a local following was so important and I have a huge affection for that time in my life.  The main reason I left was because people started writing not very nice things about me and it became embarrassing for my family and friends and I did not want to put them through that and the best thing to do was the clear off.  It was a shame as I was hugely supported by the people of High Wycombe, press can be very powerful and can make things very uncomfortable”.

A lot of people have you on their wish list for headlining Hobble on the Cobbles in Aylesbury.  Would you like to headline?

“Would absolutely love to do it!  Really want to do it and we have already had a dialogue with the organiser.  It is on ‘my’ wish list to do...”

It is the 40th anniversary of Friars this year, do you have any particular memories of playing there?

“It was pivotal to my early career; I played there so many times.  The first time I played there I was in a band called Warrior, I was only 16/17 and still at school. David Stopps had heard of this band with a young keyboard player and we were asked to support Stackridge.  It was quite funny as they arrived and their electric organ had gone down so they had to borrow mine, which my Dad was buying on HP at the time! We also played another gig supporting, - I can’t remember who!  Then I started playing there in the 80’s and there was one great night where Kajagoogoo were playing in the main hall and I was playing in the Aston Hall, also think Fashion were playing…(Checked Friars website and yes it was Fashion! Ed.). 

Playing Friars was the Holy Grail and it seemed such a huge venue to play.  Also supported China Crisis in June 1983, I have so many brilliant memories of Friars and the support that I got from people in Aylesbury”.

What bands/artistes have recently excited you?

“I am a real fan of The Killers, I love their music, it has an 80’s resonance about it.  Love the writing, the sound and the sound of the guys voice.  My kids take the p… out of me and my love of the band!  Another brilliant artiste is Laura Marling, she is an astonishing young artiste and people should really follow her career.  She has an air of Joni Mitchell about her, her lyrics are so thoughtful and poetic and she has a really interesting folk influence. Also a big fan of Noah and the Whale”.

Is there one song you wish you had written?

“Would normally answer something like ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon or ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys, but when really thinking about it would answer “Aja” by Steely Dan. If I had to just have one band that I listened to it would be Steely Dan.  I have this DVD called ‘Two Against Nature’ and it is a recording of Steely Dan playing live in a studio in front of an audience and I can watch that over and over and it is ultimately my favourite music.   If I had my time again as a young musician I would really learn the roots of jazz”.

Howard then wished The New Roxette all the very best of luck..!

Howard is performing as part of the Here & Now Tour commencing on 14 May in Liverpool.  FULL details are located on the Official HJ Websites: