Darren Hayman, singer with erstwhile John Peel favourites Hefner, settles down with another Peel favourite, David Gedge of the Wedding Present, in the snug bar of The Indie Veteran to put the modern world – tricky downloads, YouTube, exorbitant tellies and more – to rights.
Dave Gedge: What are your thoughts on the digital stuff?
Darren Hayman: You mean downloads and that.
DG: Yeah, we just did our first single that wasn’t available anywhere except as download. We had emails from people saying they didn’t like that – it was all, “I want a Wedding Present single that I can hold”.
DH: I’ve tried to be interested in it. I’ve thought, “I bet I could get that record that I’ve been looking for for ages now”. I was looking forever for Robin Gibb’s first solo album Robin’s Reign, and I found it on this Russian site and they also had Swing Slowly Sisters, which is his second unreleased album. My wife sees me entering our credit card number into this Russian website and she’s disgusted to find it’s NOT porn but rare Robin Gibb albums! But as soon as I found it on vinyl a couple of months later I was much happier. I’m starting to understand it, because it’s part of my business I guess, and so now I’m talking to Cargo distribution about iTunes. People tell me that it’s not as big as you might believe, and that it’s a good story for the press, but not many people are actually downloading. I think the truth is that fewer people are buying music generally.
DG: It’s not just people downloading, it’s people copying their mates’ CDs. But then we used to tape music on cassette didn’t we?
DH: I can’t really feel angry about a guy who comes to my show and has all my music on copied CDs. I know he’s doing something wrong and he’s stolen my music but I can’t actually feel angry towards him. If he still likes my songs, you know…
DH: Even though, like you, I’m doing more than I ever anticipated in terms of labels and being a cottage industry, that still doesn’t distract from the reason I do it and I just want people to hear the tunes.
DG: It definitely makes it more of a struggle if you don’t sell as many records as you used to. I think it’s okay for the massive groups, because they have so much money anyway, and it’s okay if you’re a new group and you just want to get loads of music out. But for a medium- sized group like us, I think every sale counts sometimes.
DH: I’ve been trying to get better at the way I use the internet. I’m still from that age of presenting a new record as my shiny new thing. I’m getting better at putting demos up. For example we were rehearsing in a hotel room in Denmark the other week, and the drummer videoed a lot of it and I thought that would be good to have on the MySpace or whatever.
DG: I think YouTube is fantastic. Bands that I used to like in the eighties, because they were alternative bands, you never saw their videos anywhere but now you can just type it into YouTube and it’s all there.
DH: I don’t really understand how more people are releasing more records but selling less. Cherry Red are releasing stuff that I’ve wanted to be available for ages. I’m sure there are more records out. Maybe record companies sell less, so to make money they’re putting out as many records as possible…
DG: Maybe. It’s certainly cheaper now to buy CDs, I remember when they were and now they’re . Because normally prices go up, but then lots of things are cheaper nowadays. You see these massive tellies for . My telly was – it was a good one, but not that good – and that was twenty years ago. I’ve got to get rid of it now because it’s so old, it’s not digital.
DH: I’m surprised it lasted that long.
DG: Well it broke down, and the man came round to fix it and he said “this is a really good telly”, and he fixed it and it was fine! was quite a lot of money for a TV in but it was definitely worth every penny. It’s a shame to see it go because of this digital thing.