Leisure Society is a british seven-piece band composed of Nick Hemming,
Christian Hardy, Helen Whitaker, Sebastian Hankins, Michael Siddell,
William Calderbank and Darren Bonehill.
Interview with Nick Hemming singer
of The Leisure Society :
Over the last few years Nick has gathered together a band of brilliant
The band's debut single 'The Last Of The Melting Snow' was released on
December 15 2008 and has just been honoured with an Ivor Novello
nomination for "Best Song Musically & Lyrically" competing
against Elbow and The Last Shadow Puppets.
Their self-produced debut album "The Sleeper" was released on 30 March
2009 on Willkommen Records. It entered the iTunes folk chart at number
one and received lavish critical praise.
The second single from "The Sleeper" is entitled 'A Matter Of Time' and
was released on March 16.
Over the Summer of 2009 the band performed across the UK and Europe,
including acclaimed slots at The Big Chill, The Green Man Festival and
The End Of The Road Festival.
In September 2009 the band recorded a cover of The Beatles song
After having signed to UK label Full Time Hobby in July 2009
the band re-released "The Sleeper" with a bonus EP entitled "A Product
Of The Ego Drain" and containing 8 additional recordings, comprising
unreleased demos, b-sides and new recordings including a cover of
'Cars' by Gary Numan and a new single version of 'Save It For Someone
S: When and how was The
It first started using the Leisure Society name years ago when I was
doing some soundtrack work for a British Film called Dead Man's Shoes.
It didn't become a full band until I moved to London a couple of years
ago - to play in Christian's band. He encouraged me to record the songs
I'd been writing. We did a few gigs as a duo, they went really well so
we eventually assembled a seven piece band. Helen was the last to join
- on flute - & when the seven of us played together for the
first time it just felt complete.
S: Where is the name of the
band coming from?
It's an idea that, I believe, was conceived in the 1930's. It was
thought that, with the development of mechanization &
automation, humans would have an increasing amount of spare
time. Eventually everything would be automated & we would have
endless hours to fill with leisure activities - a Leisure Society. It
seems far from the truth as people tend to work more hours than ever
these days, but the idea and the whole aesthetic of retro-futurism
really appeals to me.
S: How and when did all begin
I was always very passionate about music but didn't start seriously
making my own until I was 17. Someone played me Guns n Roses Appetite
For Destruction & my life changed. I went & bought a
cheap acoustic guitar & for the next 6 months I did nothing but
S: Do you feel anxious before a
I often get very nervous before a show. It get's a little easier over
time, a few years ago I wouldn't even sing in front of my own family!
S: What musicians or artists had
an influence in your life and in your work?
Brian Wilson is probably the biggest influence. The first time I heard
Surfs Up it blew my mind. I began collecting instruments, trying to
cram as many different sounds onto recordings as possible. John Barry
& Ennio Morricone were also a big influence in the early days.
S: Do you remember what was the
first CD you bought?
The first record I bought was a 7" of Funeral Pyre by the Jam.
S: Do you think the emotion is
different between a song in English and in another language?
Rather embarrassingly I can only speak English so I can't really
S: How could you define the
music of The Leisure Society?
There is a lot of honesty in it, most of the songs were written as a
kind of catharsis. But, at heart I think we aspire to make classic pop
music in the vein of The Beatles & The Beach Boys... you have
to aim high ;)
S: Do you agree with Victor Hugo
who said :"Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad"?
I guess there can be a perverse pleasure in melancholy. In my
experience melancholy is certainly conductive to creativity. I'm a
believer that happiness writes white.
S: When you write a song you
follow your heart, your brain or your hand?
combination of the three, in that order. A few years ago I started
writing songs on the Ukulele in an effort to ignore my guitar-weary
hands & be a bit more instinctive. I find it inspirational
writing on an instrument I don't know much about.
S: What is your favourite song
of The Leisure Society and why?
I think "We Were Wasted" is my favourite at the moment. It's very
but it seems to distill a whole period of my life when I was getting
wasted a lot!
S: As musician, what is your
feeling about Internet?
The internet has been amazing for me. Without the outlet of Myspace
& the like I'm sure there wouldn't have been a Leisure Society
album. Illegal downloading is annoying, but for the first time in 15
years I'm actually making enough money to pay the rent so I can't
S: Where is "The Darkest Place
The Darkest Place I Know was written whilst sleeping on people's floors
in SW London, so I'll have to say Balham. Balham's actually
quite a nice place but at the time I felt like my life was a
directionless mess & I had lost all confidence in myself, hence
the dark mood.
S: Can you describe what is a
typical The Leisure Society's day?
: At the
moment It involves getting out of bed & switching the computer
on to start recording. I've had a stream of musicians visiting this
weekend & I've become a bit of a hermit, rarely venturing
outside. We're off on tour in a couple of days so that will involve
lots of driving, playing cards, watching Arrested Development DVDs
& endless cigarettes (to relieve the tour boredom).
S: What are your hobbies aside
: Music is
pretty all-consuming. I do like cooking though & I do quite a
lot of cycling.
you venturesome person?
No, I'm generally very introspective & quite cautious.
S: Where would you like to play
in the future, is there a place in the world you would love to visit?
really like to go to Brazil. I'd also love to tour the U.S.A, I like
the idea of all the wide open spaces. I'm very excited to be visiting
Paris for the first time.
there any things, which you are afraid of? Do you have any fears?
Flying. We had an awful flight back from a festival in Latvia, it's
going to take a lot of alcohol/valium to get me back on a plane.
S: What is the best moment and
best place to listen to your music?
: On a
train, traveling through countryside.
our website is related with Manic Street Preachers maybe can you say
some words about them?
Our violin player Mike played with The Manic Street Preachers in his
old band Hope Of The States. It was when the Manics had there all-white
stage set & Nicky Wire told them off for leaving cigarette ends
on the stage. Mike said they we're all very nice though.
know it’s a difficult question, but if you would have to keep
just one album from your CD collection what album would it be?
Beach Boys Friends/20/20. I know that's actually two albums but they
both come on one CD. There's such a lot of inventiveness in the
arrangements & harmonies, there's always something new to
S: What was the last song you
listened to before the interview? And, if you know, which one will be
: The View
- Distant Dubloon. I'm not a View fan but I discovered this on
someone's Myspace page - it has amazing orchestration.
S: Can you tell us the name of
one French song, or singer, or band?
: I used
to be a huge Air fan. I listen to a lot of Yann Tiersen. We played with
a band called Moriarty a couple of months ago, they were rather good.
S: And say something in French?
Ceci n'est pas une bicyclette - is what it says on my t-shirt (beneath
a drawing of a bicycle)
S: What are your plans for the
We're heading on our first European tour this weekend. I'm really
excited, we're starting in Paris then heading over to Germany before
finishing in Belgium.
S: And finally, what’s
the most important thing in life for you?
music seems to be one of the few things that can make me truly happy,
I'd be utterly lost without it.
MANY thanks to Nick and The Leisure Society for the interview!
More informations about The Leisure Society:
- on their site:
- on their Myspace: