The creator of one of Uncut’s best albums of 2022 on his magical Mersey adventures with The Pale Fountains, Shack, Arthur Lee and Lee Mavers, in the latest issue of Uncut magazine – in UK shops from Thursday, November 10 and available to buy from our online store.
It’s the morning after Liverpool’s pulsating victory over Manchester City at Anfield, and Mick Head is understandably buzzing. “It feels good. I was listening on the radio and I heard a couple of pundits talking about the atmosphere and saying they’d never heard anything like it – and this was before the game!” Head has further cause for celebration when informed that his latest album with the Red Elastic Band, the triumphant Dear Scott, has been named one of Uncut’s best albums of 2022. “That’s amazing,” he beams. “It’s just recognition for what everyone’s put into it. We’re all really proud of it.” Earlier this year, the album became his first ever Top 10 record in a long career of heroic near-misses. “We were on tour when the album got released and that was brilliant. It was like being in the Paleys again: we’re all excited in the back of the van, listening to the charts. A real highlight.”
Is this the happiest he’s been? “Yeah. The world’s fucking mad, but creatively, if you put everything on the table and look down on it from above, then yeah. Maybe it’s ’cos I’ve got lucidity. I’m feeling good physically – surprisingly! Still functioning emotionally. And that has an impact on the songs. There’s no better feeling than when someone tells you what a particular song means to them. Somebody once told me they walked down the aisle to “As Long As I’ve Got You” and that blew me away. But that’s what songs are for. Music can do things. It’ll catch on.”
The new album sounds so fresh. Is songwriting getting easier the older you get – or harder? – Peter Livesey, Salford
I think it gets easier. A lot of it is down to the mindset. Obviously I’ve enjoyed songwriting all my life, ’cos it’s what I do. But I do find it’s getting easier as I get older, because I’m enjoying it more.
How did the collaboration with Bill Ryder-Jones for Dear Scott come about? – Tom Newton, via email
We all know Bill really well – Liverpool’s quite a small village, musically. Nat [Cummings] from the Red Elastic Band had been working in Bill’s studio in West Kirby and when he said, ‘What do you think about this as an idea?’ I bit his hand off. Because I’d met Bill at gigs, I loved The Coral, and I knew how talented he was. Bill has mentioned that he was into the Paleys and Shack growing up, which is always refreshing to hear. And it showed when we were recording because he kinda knows where I’m going. I had a lovely conversation with Bill last week, and I think we’ve got some [studio] time pencilled in early next year. There’s six, seven, eight songs that we wanna put down. It was a joy to work on the last album, so keep it simple. You don’t change a winning team!
Aside from a ride on “The Ten”, what other places to check out would you recommend for someone visiting Kensington in Liverpool? – Nick Cullen, via Twitter
There’s a necropolis on the corner of West Derby Road, where we used to play football. In the 19th century it was overflowing with dead bodies after the Napoleonic wars, so we built this amazing necropolis. You’ve got the Olympia where we played a couple of months ago. And Buffalo Bill and his travelling circus came down West Derby Road in the 1900s. But saying that, once you got there, you’d think, ‘What the fuck’s Mick Head on about?’ There’s not much there now, but it’s steeped in history.
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