Tom Hingley fronted Manchester legends the Inspiral Carpets during their heyday and is now out on the road playing those very same songs under the guise of Tom Hingley And The Kar-pets. Tom will be performing at the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds on Friday 3rd August so, ahead of the gig, we had a chat to Tom.
1. We saw Shed Seven last week who joked that they couldn’t remember much about the ’90s. Are you the same?
Tom – “Well, I actually wrote a book called Carpet Burns about that time. Honestly, we weren’t that wayward as a band even though it was easier to be rock ‘n’ roll back then.”
2. You joined Inspiral Carpets at the height of the popularity of the Manchester scene. What do you remember about that scene?
Tom – “It was one of the biggest youth movements since punk! There were so many great bands all from the same place like The Stone Roses, New Order, Warhol. I worked in the Hacienda before I joined Inspiral Carpets and you could see even then that something iconic was happening.”
3. What do you think made Manchester such a special place at that particular time?
Tom – “I think what you have to remember is, that upto that point, everything was London-centric, everything was about London but London had got everything wrong. The fashion was wrong. The music was wrong. Manchester was this industrial wasteland so it was right for what was happening.”
4. As you said, you worked in the Hacienda prior to joining Inspiral Carpets. The Hacienda was one of the focal points of the scene. What do you remember about it?
Tom – “I remember that the PR said it never made any money but I just remember seeing them sell all this cheap beer for a lot of money. It was also a very gay club even though they didn’t want to promote it as one but, for example, look at Noel Gallagher, his favourite band was The Smiths and their song Working Class which is an incredibly gay record. The place was full of so many different people though – Bez, Ace Of Base, 808 State, The Charlatans, James, all very different from each other. There were other venues too like the International I and II, it was all quite Del Boy like how they were run!”
5. What is your favourite story from your time in Inspiral Carpets?
Tom – “I wouldn’t say I had a particular favourite story because there were a lot of good times. I think one which was nice was when we played the Happy Daze gig in Manchester at Grand Central which became G-Mex. That gig was, interesting, just over 28 years ago on July 1st, 1990 and the guitarist in my band now told me how him and his mates had gone to the venue without any tickets and they saw me and told me how they couldn’t get into the gig so I went back inside and came out with five tickets from them. That was a nice story.”
6. Do people still chat to you about Inspiral Carpets when you’re out about?
Tom – “I do get people speaking to me before and after gigs but, more often than not, as we’re in the age of the selfie, it’s people wanting selfies. If I’m behing honest, it’s not something I’m overly keen on but I do it when people ask for a selfie. I remember playing a gig once and there was this kid there, he must have been about 19 years old and it was really annoying him that people kept coming up to me wanting selfies. It’s not something I encourage though but he thought I was acting like I was someone famous because people kept wanting photos when actually, I was really tired.”
7. Speaking of your project, the Karpets, what do people get when they come to see you?
Tom – “They get the Inspiral Carpets songs sounding like they should sound. Yes, the band might be different but they are the songs played as close as they could be with the singer who sang on them.”
8. If you could speak to the Tom Hingley who sang in the Inspiral Carpets, what advice would you give yourself?
Tom – “Hmmm… probably to not take things too seriously and enjoy yourself a bit more.”
9. Every musical movement be it punk, grunge etc. has songs that define it, what would you say are the songs that defined the Manchester sound/scene?
Tom – “That’s a tough one because I don’t think there are particular songs that define Manchester as it was more than just about the music. Three songs I would pick though are:
There She Goes by The La’s. They were a great band and, if I’m being honest, I think they should have been bigger than Oasis.
A Guy Called Gerald by Voodoo Ray. That songs sums up that whole period.
She’s Gone by The Trainset. One most people won’t have heard of but again another great song. I could have picked the obvious ones but I’d rather go for three obscure songs.
10. Ok Tom, thanks for your time and good luck with the upcoming shows. Apart from those shows, what does the rest of the year hold in store for you?
Tom – “I’m going to concentrate on my family life and try to keep a balance between that and my work. I manage myself so sometimes it’s difficult to keep that balance sometimes I go to a space near Morrisons and use the WIFI haha! We’re going to go on holiday soon then I’m going to be working on my new album and just keep doing what I do. Thanks for taking the time to do this.”