HOOTON TENNIS CLUB catch up with EDWYN COLLINS, whose Helmsdale studio they recorded their poptastic second album Big Box of Chocolates in. The Hooton boys have given us an insight into their studio sessions overlooking Moray Firth, and have put some questions to their producer and host Edwyn Collins, who very kindly returns the favour. Read on to discover the former Orange Juice frontman and all round great guy’s listening and book recommendations.
Hooton Tennis Club: We met a chap at a recent gig at The Craufurd Arms in Milton Keynes who is a very big fan of yours. In his students days he interviewed Orange Juice before a show in London and he said he was surprised you could all drink so much but play so well. What’s your secret?
Edwyn Collins: That’s not true. I played shit when I was drunk. I sang worse. Grace threatened to resign unless I stopped drinking before gigs. It was really bad. I stopped. I only did it for a little while, it was no good.
HTC: Any tips on the best places to birdwatch?
EC: Caithness, the cliffs, all the way.
HTC: After each successful recording we would track, you would exclaim “One more time for Jesus” through the tannoy, are you a religious man?
EC: Deeply. I have my own cult. The Talonologists.
HTC: You were the Chieftain for the local Highland games in Helmsdale, what were your responsibilities for this role?
EC: Prize giving, mainly. And marching along behind the pipe band in my kilt with the eagle feathers in my cap! I looked magnificent, I’m sure you agree…
HTC: We miss Helmsdale a whole lot, how has it been there since our departure, are you all bedded in the studio?
EC: Yes, I’ve got the Sid Vicious poster up, the Faces poster, all the channels are working, the wood burner is keeping everybody toasty. Come back, lads, we miss you!
HTC: We’re going up to the west side of Scotland for Callum’s stag next year. The plan is to visit whiskey distilleries, any tips for places to see?
EC: Go far up, Wester Ross and North West Sutherland. It’s so dramatic.
HTC: What is your favourite/most inspirational book?
EC: I read this book, a while ago. Whole books are hard for me now, but I’m going to try to re-read it. It’s amazing, he inspired Orwell. It’s called: ‘We’ by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
HTC: When we were up in Helmsdale you showed us A LOT of music in our living quarters, what have you been listening to recently?
EC: Hmm, oh yes! Elis Regina, queen of Bossa Nova, here’s one of her most famous, written by Tom Jobim, he is the man!!
HTC: What was it like working with Vic and Bob on Shooting stars?
EC: Lengthy, many takes…
Edwyn Collins: After threatening them and likening my job to a school teacher trying to get his pupils to do their homework, here they are…
Hooton Tennis Club: No Hooton project has ever run smoothly. We’re very sorry that we brought our curse to your beautiful new studio! We were all waiting at various train stations, trying to find out whether we needed to get to the airport or not, and we cut it very fine in the end. We never thought we had made a bad decision though, and we were more than happy to have an extra free day in Helmsdale!
EC: The first album recorded at my new studio and it’s a cracker! How was the Helmsdale experience for you guys? You got the glorious gorse season.
HTC: We enjoyed ourselves in Scotland so much that we’re coming back in 2017 for Callum’s stag do. You’ve turned us into whiskey drinkers, Edwyn! We’re going to visit numerous distilleries on Islay and Jura. Your tales of the Western isles have inspired us! The gorse was beautiful, the album cover was originally going to have lots of gorse on it! The blue of the sky, the yellow of the gorse and the deeper blue of the Moray Firth will always stick in our heads.
EC: Is Ryan still playing the Tony Joe White original of ‘Polk Salad Annie’? “’Gators got yer Granny…”
HTC: He can’t stop playing it. He’s got a problem.
EC: The Hooton boys sure know their stuff about music. Curious cats. What are you listening to on tour lads?
HTC: We’ve been listening to plenty of Can, Kendrick Lamar, Animal Collective, Julia Jacklin, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Scott Walker, Gene Clark, The Beatles (very homely in the van). Too many CDs to list! European Radio is always a strange treat. We found a great Belgian station with solid 60s garage rock on. On the other hand, you get the proper Eurotrash stuff. It’s always a mixed bag!
EC: Lots of favourite moments. I’ll pick one: Harry’s slide guitar on Frostbitten in Fen Ditton.
HTC: A great bit of slide work by Harry! It’s probably one of our favourite tracks on the album, although it’s very hard to play live without the slide guitar!
EC: How great was Rich? (Richard Flack, who mixed the record). He’s a genius and a lovely man to boot.
HTC: Rich was amazing! He’s a hero! He came to our Norwich show to see us and it was lovely to catch up with him
EC: Now gentlemen. What do we say when we need that special last take?
HTC: ONE MORE TIME FOR JESUS!