Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nik Kershaw interview

NIK KERSHAW was undeniably one of the absolute kings of the ‘80s, no question.
Try and conjure up a mental image from the seminal music videos of the mid-80s period and you can’t look further than the strange ‘Tron’-like video for ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’, in which Kershaw danced around in a strange, glowing suit, hair coiffed to the max.
Likewise the Bristol-born singer’s ‘I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’, which featured vacuous, pale-faced children mouthing the words to the song, while the teen-idol danced around a castle which billowed smoke, on this occasion sporting a dyed blonde look.
Kershaw, who was also one of the standout performers at Live Aid, comes to Limerick this week for a ‘No Frills’ acoustic gig - his first time gigging in Ireland in more than 20 years.

“I'm very much looking forward to this Irish expedition, or exhibition,” says Kershaw, speaking from his home and stumbling momentarily over his words.
“It might be a bit of both - me making an exhibition of myself,” he laughs heartily.
A genuine legend, both of the above songs were absolute standards of the 80s era, ensuring the Bristol-born singer spent a record-breaking 50 weeks in the UK Top 50 singles chart in 1984. Both featured on the debut album ‘Human Racing’ - still a classic to this day.
However, come 1990, his star was beginning to wane, and after four albums and eight million record sales, Kershaw stepped out of the spotlight, rather abruptly.
He has flitted in and out since, preferring to remain as a songwriter and producer, working with the likes of Elton John, Cliff Richard, Bonnie Tyler and more latterly, Imogen Heap, Gary Barlow and Let Loose.
Oh, and he wrote and produced The One and Only, sung by Chesney Hawkes - a monster smash hit that no-one the planet could ever claim not to have heard.

“It was huge and it still keeps coming back to haunt me,” agrees Kershaw when asked about the song, which was sung memorably by Chesney Hawkes.
“I'm still very good friends with Ches - despite me ending his career,” he laughs. “That was a weird one, that was almost the first thing, when I decided to write songs for other people, that was almost the first thing I did, and then I stuck it on a shelf and forgot about. I co-produced it, recorded it and then forgot about it. A year later the film came out and blimey - it was mad.”

Remembering the dizzy heights of his own career, Kershaw is more phlegmatic. It is clear that he was never interested in the attention and trappings of fame, indicative of his decision to step away from the limelight, rather than become almost a parody of himself.
“Well you know, it is like the old adage - be careful what you wish for, because I wanted to make music and be known for making music, and I wanted to play in front of thousands of people, but then I was totally unprepared to deal with it, to deal with the public thing, the press and media - I just wasn't very good at it,” he says simply.
On Live Aid he laughs: “That was certainly a big moment - although I keep getting reminded about it, because for obvious reasons people want to know about it, but most of my memories from it have been.. I don't know if they are real anymore, because it has become something I talk about in interviews, and I don't know how much of it is made up and how much is real”.

While he has been keen to stay out of the limelight, the affable Kershaw has nonetheless released a studio album every four to five years, all to considerable critical acclaim, most recently on 2006’s You've Got To Laugh.
He returns this year with ‘No Frills’, which essentially documents his return to the stage, performing acoustically, solo and minus the mullet and shoulder pads.
“Saying I choose to do anything is a bit misleading for me, because there is never a plan, I have always just bumped into things, which I have been doing all my career,” he explains.
“What happened was, I got offered a couple of gigs in Dubai, little acoustic ones, and I thought, I fancy going there and I can try the acoustic thing out and no-one will know any different.
“It went ok and the next time somebody asked me, I surprised myself and said yes, and I did a load of acoustic gigs last year, and I have done quite a few this year. I'm quite enjoying it, so I'll keep going.”
Kershaw is playing a wide variety of songs, classics and newer material, possibly some very new. But surprisingly for a guy who performed in front of hundreds of thousands in Wembley Stadium and elsewhere, he still admits to the pang of nerves before going on stage.
“I'm not beyond nerves, I get nervous before every show. In some ways, especially the smaller gigs, the more nervous I get, because it is just me and a guitar - no smoke and mirrors or a band to hide behind,” he says.
“I was very surprised because I was thinking "anybody can do this" - you think there is nothing special, but you are sharing something with a bunch of people, and I am delighted with how well the gigs have been received,” he adds.

Nik Kershaw plays in Dolan’s Warehouse this Friday night, with an Eighties Night to follow.

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