It’s January and in less than a week on the 26th Nick J.D. Hodgson will be releasing his debut solo album Tell Your Friends and I am hyped! Nick was the talent behind the Kaiser Chiefs’ hits such as I Predict A Riot, Ruby and Oh My God to name a few when he was the drummer in the band.
Since leaving the band at the end of 2012 he has been working with many talented artists such as Rat Boy, James Arthur, John Newman, Olly Murs and Dua Lipa using his skills as a writer and producer. So he has been very busy.
But out of the blue in March 2017 he teased solo material and then in October the first single, Suitable, was released. Since then the many other singles that have been released and the clips of some of the other tracks on the album all show one thing; he’s still got it!
This record is all of his own work. It was written and recorded at his home studios last summer and is co-produced with Dave McCracken who has worked with Depeche Mode and Ian Brown.
From what I’ve heard so far of the album I would say that it is a positive, care-free record with vibes that make me feel calm and relaxed. It is honest, open, real. Something that I think a lot of artists recently have seemed to have forgotten.
It is very ’70s and his influences – ELO, Bowie, Father John Misty, Tame Impala, The Beatles – to name a few, can be heard clearly throughout as well as the perhaps familiar sound of Kaiser Chiefs’ guitarist, Andrew “Whitey” White on the track Feel Better. But Nick has created his own, wonderful sound which is one that I hope he carries onto a potential second record.
I’m seeing him live at Headrow House, Leeds on the 29th which is incredibly exciting! Since going solo, he’s had three stage appearances. Being a surprise guest at The Killers’ Leeds show by performing Riot with the band, a solo show in London and supporting The Cribs in Leeds! It must be daunting doing everything again since leaving the Kaiser Chiefs.
It is an absolute honour that Nick agreed to answer some of my questions during what I assume to be a busy time of rehearsing.
Like a lot of people, I’m very excited about Tell Your Friends, are you excited or are the nerves starting to kick in?
Oh definitely both, excited and nervous. In the band I used to get nervous around this time too cos it’s the unknown. Are people gonna dig it or not!? I’ve read some really good reviews so far which helps settle the nerves.
What song on the album is your favourite and why?
It keeps changing. At the moment it’s Don’t Forget To Go To Sleep. I think it’s pointing to where the next record will go.
What song took you the longest to write?
They all came pretty quick. When a song starts taking too long I usually put it to one-side because it’s probably not the one! On the album I wrote two sets of lyrics for I Love The Way Your Mind Works cos I wasn’t happy with the first set.
How different was it, writing songs for yourself rather than for other artists or Kaiser Chiefs?
It’s the same in some ways, but in the lyrical approach it’s very different. I love being able to write and sing whatever I like, when you’re writing for other singers to sing it has to be something they feel comfortable singing. Writing for yourself is a lot less filtered, more honest.
What was the first gig you went to?
Michael Jackson at Roundhay Park in Leeds. I still can’t believe that Michael Jackson was in Leeds.
You are a very talented all round musician but in the Kaiser Chiefs you were the drummer, since leaving did that take a back seat because you had been doing it so much for so long? Did you focus on other instruments instead?
Ah thank you. I still love playing the drums and play a few times a week but since leaving it did mean I played a lot less. I would always write on piano and guitar though so that hasn’t changed. Drums was actually the last instrument I learned to play but will always be my favourite.
I’m very excited about the Leeds gig on the 29th. Is it strange rehearsing again and with another band?
It feels great to hear the songs becoming real in a rehearsal room but not strange. I see myself as a musician first and foremost not restricted to any setup.
Lastly, a bit random, if you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life what would it be?
Trying Your Luck by The Strokes (Listen)