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INTERVIEW: Songwriter Lloyd Cole finally makes it to Wirral and he’s brought his golf clubs

WHEN Lloyd Cole originally announced a string of UK dates for April 2020 little did he know he’d still be traveling the highways and byways of Britain two years later.

This month’s gig at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion will see the singer songwriter finally complete his ‘From Rattlesnakes to Guesswork’ tour after Covid-19 forced the New York-based Cole to abandon all hope of coming home and try and work out how on earth to make a living.

“It’s been great to get back to work,” said Cole. “It’s been very difficult for lots of people especially musicians.

“I certainly didn’t have enough money saved to not work for two whole years. Unless you are a top level star these days income from royalties is much less than it used to be so we’re more dependent on touring.

“If there is going to be any positives from Covid it’s that people have had to think about what music means to them and what they’re willing to pay for in order to keep it happening.

“To a large extent a whole generation had become accustomed to thinking music was just free and that can’t really work.”

Cole first stepped into the spotlight when Lloyd Cole & The Commotions released their effortlessly hip debut album Rattlesnakes in 1984.

He went on to make two further albums of cerebral pop with the Commotions, clocking up era-defining hits like Lost Weekend and Perfect Skin, before the band, who had formed while Cole was studying at the University of Glasgow, split in 1988 and the frontman decamped to New York as a solo artist and made a home in the city that had always loomed large in his imagination.

“It has been lovely to get on stage again but it’s also frustrating to not tour like we used to,” he said. “I can’t do meet and greets and I can’t go into busy cafes and bars.

“Every time we go and eat we have to check if the place is airy! I have all these restaurants and favorite places like museums that I’ve been going to for years and years and I have not been able to go to any of them because they’re busy and I have to try and avoid getting ill in order to finish the tour.”

Lockdown forced Cole to get creative with the 61-year-old offering fans the chance to subscribe for access to all sorts of content from memorabilia, lyric notebooks, photography and even videoed guitar lessons.

“If I had not started my Patreon page I’m quite sure how I would have made it through,” he said. “It’s been great that fans have subscribed in order to keep me going in a different way and it’s actually looking like a new model for the way making money from music can work.

“The Patreon page has become a multi-media memoir with photographs, essays and the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years.

“I never really wanted to write a linear memoir so this has been a nice way to present something that is a monument to work I’ve done – a self-erected monument!

“There’s very little I’ve done that I deeply regret – there’s only a few things where I’ve gone ‘oh god I really shouldn’t have done that’ or ‘that was a stupid move’.

“I’ve never made a record for anything apart from trying to make a record great or taken on a cynical endeavor to try and make ends meet – I feel good about that. I’m not Christian but I do believe in the sin of pride and the only pride I have is in my children so I’m not proud of my work but I’m happy with it.”

While digging through his archive kept Cole busy, the songwriter found lockdown harder from a creative standpoint.

“The Patreon thing took a large amount of my creative energy and left me with not very much to try and finish the record I’d started,” he said. “I think I need deadlines to finish projects and it became difficult. I intend to summarize the record when I get home in a couple of weeks.

“The record wasn’t going to pay my bills – if we’re going to be honest about the economics of making music these days the purpose of the record is to satisfy the fans that one is not an oldies artist and to legitimize touring.

“If we were going to measure the revenue against the amount of effort that goes into making them you basically lose money from making records.”

Thankfully for Cole there is some respite from financial worries in the form of strapping on an acoustic guitar and running through the hits alongside his Commotions bandmate Neil Clarke.

“It’s been lovely and being on stage and playing with Neil has been great,” he said. “We have played this set enough times that we can actually play in lots of different ways – if we feel loose and ragged we can be a bit more rock n roll and if we feel we’re in a theater we can play something that’s closer to chamber music.

“You have to adapt to your environment and you can’t expect the same presentation to work everywhere.

“I’m looking forward to the New Brighton show because our show at the Liverpool Philharmonic show was undoubtedly the best of the tour pre-Covid. My Merseyside shows are always either fantastic or awful and the last two have been fantastic so fingers crossed. ”

Another reason for Cole looking forward to his trip to Wirral is the chance to sample his golf courses. As a child both his parents worked on a golf course in Derbyshire and Cole himself can boast a single digit handicap.

“I’m going to get a few holes in at Wallasey the night before the concert,” he added. “I’ve already spoken to them. Whenever there’s been a day off on thw tour with managed to play some golf and we’ve been incredibly lucky with the weather.

“It really helps while touring – if you want to avoid people golf is quite good for that!”

Lloyd Cole plays New Brighton Floral Pavilion on Wednesday, May 11. 7.30pm
Rescheduled from Tuesday, February 8 2022
All Tickets £29.25

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