Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Roachford has been making music for more than three decades. Leader of Roachford the band and a busy solo artist, he’s also hooked up with Mike Rutherford to co-front Mike + the Mechanics with Canadian Tim Howar in recent years. We caught up with Andrew at Rewind South, to chat production, performance, and Partridge. Family man; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Andrew, you’ve just come off stage at Rewind; how was it?
Oh, man, it’s been fantastic. Today has been really good. I was a bit worried about opening up the festival, thinking the crowd might be still a bit lukewarm when I started, but I had a great time.
There was a lot of energy and shape-throwing from you up on stage today.
Yeah, I get like that when I hear music, it does that, and it’s always done that to me. It always puts a spirit in me, so to speak.
For a four-piece band, you have a big, big sound.
Well, if Jimi Hendrix can do it with three people, I think at four, we must be able to.
You alluded to wondering whether people would get into things early on, but you’ve got a song like ‘Cuddly Toy’ in the arsenal, haven’t you?
Yeah, I do have that, yeah, and that always works!
It’s become such a classic track, but going back to the recording of it, did you know what it was going to become?
I knew it was going to be good, and we did know what we were doing. We started off by making sure there was a band playing it live, and then added little bits. I didn’t know how people would react to it, but I knew it was good, because I enjoyed it; every time I played it, I thought; “This is fun, this is good”.
It’s a song with so much going on, production-wise, from the guitar riffs, to the off-beat cymbal crashes.
Oh, you’ve listened! I co-produced it with another guy [Michael H. Brauer], and yeah, I had a lot of influence on the production, because I wrote it and demoed it first of all, with a little cassette thing. It had kind of all the arrangements on it already, and then I brought it to the guys in the band, and basically made it into something bigger. So that was what it was, when it was conceived.
Is it a song that always gets a big reaction in your set?
It does, but funny enough, for five years of my career maybe, I stopped playing it. I just stopped playing it and started doing different things, and now I’ve started bringing it back, it’s kind of like it’s new again to me.
The song was featured prominently in the Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa movie; what was it like when you first saw that?
I was sitting in the back of the cinema, and it came on. They told me it was going to be in a scene in the film, but I didn’t know exactly where. I was proud, and it was a bit hilarious at the same time, saying; “I can’t believe it!” But it was a great homage. I love it. I’ve always loved Alan Partridge anyway.
Away from your solo career, you’re the co-front man for Mike + the Mechanics.
That gig is seven years in now, which we thought was going to be like a year or two. So yeah, it’s going really fun. I love working with the guys. Mike [Rutherford], I love. We’re making some new material, so we’re doing a new Mechanics new album. It’s been like my new family, the Mechanics as well, so, I’ve learned a lot working with those guys. It’s great.
Former Mechanic’s front man Paul Carrack is here today; does that make things a bit odd between you?
You know what, I used to meet him way back, so we knew each other before I was working with Mike. It’s very surreal, actually. It was seeing him afterwards; it was like; “Yeah!” But we actually, genuinely love each other. I think he’s an amazing singer, and a lovely guy.
You’ve also got a solo career going on; are you likely to release a new album this year?
Next year. About late spring or early summer next year. It’s almost like you could call it a soul album, but with a bit of balls to it. I like to have a little bit of oomph to my music, but the songs are very in the tradition of a lot of people like Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and stuff like that. So it’s got that kind of feel, and I think I suit that kind of thing.
You must have been saddened by Aretha Franklin’s recent passing.
I can’t even… I don’t have the words for that. It was like we lost someone really important. She’s an icon, and she taught me so much about soul music, so hats off to her.
Finally, what’s have you got coming up?
Well, we start off early in the new year doing a big Mechanics tour, which is throughout the U.K., and we’re doing Ireland as well, and we’re doing Europe. And then on the back of that, I do my own tour, and my new album comes out. So it’s going to be continuous touring for the next year, I think, and promoting, so look out!
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Mike + The Mechanics' U.K. and Ireland tour kicks off in Dublin on 18th February 2019. The full list of dates can be viewed below. For all things Roachford, visit roachford.co.uk.
Mike + The Mechanics 2019 Tour Dates:
18/02/2019 – National Stadium, Dublin
20/02/2019 – Theatre Royal, Norwich
21/02/2019 – G Live, Guildford
23/02/2019 – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
24/02/2019 – Sage, Gateshead
25/02/2019 – Concert Hall, Perth
27/02/2019 – Aberdeen Music Hall, Aberdeen
28/02/2019 – Usher Hall, Edinburgh
01/03/2019 – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
03/03/2019 – Sands Centre, Carlisle
04/03/2019 – Victoria Hall, Stoke
05/03/2019 – Venue Cymru, Llandudno
07/03/2019 – Corn Exchange, Cambridge
08/03/2019 – De Montford Hall, Leicester
10/03/2019 – Royal Centre, Nottingham
11/03/2019 – Opera House, Buxton
12/03/2019 – New Theatre, Oxford
14/03/2019 – G Live, Guildford
15/03/2019 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
16/03/2019 – City Hall, Sheffield
18/03/2019 – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
19/03/2019 – Barbican, York
21/03/2019 – St Davids Hall, Cardiff
22/03/2019 – Pavilion, Bournemouth
23/03/2019 – Cliffs Pavilion, Southend
25/03/2019 – Winter Gardens, Margate
26/03/2019 – Hexagon, Reading
27/03/2019 – Dome, Brighton
29/03/2019 – Pavilions, Plymouth
30/03/2019 – Guildhall, Portsmouth
01/04/2019 – Royal Albert Hall, London
02/04/2019 – Colosseum, Watford
03/04/2019 – Anvil, Basingstoke
05/04/2019 – Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
07/04/2019 – Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes
08/04/2019 – Hippodrome, Bristol
09/04/2019 – City Hall, Sailsbury