Music interview: Dave Hemingway on The South
WITH hits like Song For Whoever, A Little Time, Perfect 10, Rotterdam, and the controversial Don't Marry Her, The Beautiful South was almost ever-present in the charts from 1989 to 2003. When they split up in 2006 the fans were distraught.
Not for long though, as some of the members reconvened less than two years later as The South and have continued the band’s legacy.
And what’s more, they are heading around the country for a short tour.
The Beautiful South evolved from The Housemartins, whose impressive catalogue kept the chart-watchers busy.
“That isn’t quite right,” interjects vocalist Dave Hemingway. “The Housemartins split up completely, but then Paul (Heaton, main songwriter) had another project, which was totally different, and asked me to be involved.
“It’s a bit like when The Jam split and Paul Weller formed The Style Council.”
Another main difference with the two bands is that The Beautiful South had a female singer.
“We said, ‘Let’s try something else’ and the result was that we were no longer male-oriented, and to be honest a lot of Housemartins fans didn’t like us.”
After The Beautiful South ended, a reunion wasn’t foremost in Hemingway’s thoughts; but it happened, as he explains.
“It wasn’t my choice, to be honest, and I didn’t think that anything else would happen once we’d disbanded. But I got a call from Dave Stead, the drummer, about 18 months after the split and suggested we carry on.”
He continues: “On reflection I thought that we finished too early and that we had a bit more to offer.
“But I didn’t want to be just a tribute band to ourselves and I wanted to do new material, so I said that if Paul (Heaton) was OK with it then I’d do it.”
The band recruited Alison Wheeler from The Beautiful South and here they are almost ten years on.
“There’s been a few line-up changes, but we have a new-ish album that we’re proud of (Sweet Refrains) and have a lot to offer.”
I mentioned a ‘controversial’ song earlier with Don’t Marry Her, the original lyric had a swear-word, so the band re-recorded it.
“That’s right,” the 56-year old Yorkshireman says. “If you record a song like that, it’s not going to get radio play, although true fans know the original version.
“The original song had the ‘f-word’ and when it was decided to release it as a single we recorded a new version,” he laughs. “Then Terry Wogan famously played it and forgot to play the ‘safe’ version.
“I’m sure it was an accident,” he adds.
The band hasn’t toured in a while, as Hemingway tells me.
“We last toured about three years ago, but it was a horrible tour as it was too long and we were on a really cr***y old bus. I’m too old for stuff like that and I vowed never to do it like that again.
“You see, I want to enjoy it as well. That tour was badly organised and had no structure to it, but now I’m refreshed and really looking forward to this one.”
The band has a pretty full set list as well.
“Yes, we’ll revisit a lot of Beautiful South songs, play a few from Sweet Refrains and maybe a couple of songs that we haven’t recorded yet. We’ve an album-full of songs we have to record – maybe next year.
“I think that people want to hear new stuff as well as the old and hopefully they’ll enjoy it.”
The South will be appearing at Warehouse 23, Wakefield on October 22, and Holmfirth’s Picturedrome on November 26 and 27. For furtehr details visit