Henry Priestman, former frontman for The Christians, talks about remaking their 1987 hit Forgotten Town for a video celebrating Hull City of Culture. A Place They Called Forgotten Town, featuring fellow Hull musicians Emma Fee and Martin Clappison, will be released next month.
Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
My songwriting style seems to change every 10 years – usually the seventh year of the decade. 1977: I formed Yachts, quirky new wave pop band signed to Stiff, then Radar, playing cheesy Farfisa organ-based tunes, to a tiny but devoted fan base. 1987: I was in The Christians, polished pop-soul band signed to Island, and we actually had hits, including our debut, Forgotten Town, released 30 years ago this month. 1997: My sound changed again as I began composing music for TV (including Wildlife on One, Natural World, etc), plus co-writing and producing. 2007: decade #4, and finally at the age of 53 I started a solo career, and released my album The Chronicles of Modern Life. Playlisted on Radio 2, Johnnie Walker called my genre songs for grumpy old men! 2017: enjoying life more than ever – new album and solo gigs in the pipeline, and doing music for a new Hull City of Culture 2017 film. Re: influences – too many to mention!
How have you evolved as a musician over the years?
Not much. I still believe in “four chords and the truth”, but those four chords have served me well these past 40 years. Oh, and an audience no longer holds any fear for me.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
Currently involved with producing and recording a new version of Forgotten Town. It’s for a film, A Place They Called Forgotten Town, to celebrate Hull City of Culture 2017, made by Humber Film, and sung by local Hull artists Martin Clappison and Emma Fee.
How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
I don’t really feel I’m IN the industry (or music biz) anymore. I’m my own cottage industry. I record my own albums, arrange my own concerts (70 gigs last year), and manage myself.
What’s on your rider?
Bottle of shiraz would be nice, but I don’t insist!
Tell us about your worst live show.
I don’t really have a worst – something positive comes out of all of them, though one possibly doesn’t realise it at the time. Anyway, nowadays, working mainly as a duo with my good friend Les Glover (or with my flexible band The Men of a Certain Age) every gig is a joy. We just laugh our way round the UK.