Mick Hucknall on wanting to push his voice harder and making dirtier songs

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IF YOU saw a flame-haired man singing passionately into his mobile phone on a budget airline flight last year and thought, ‘That looks like Mick Hucknall,’ you were right. It was him.

The Simply Red frontman admits when a killer lyric or tune comes into his head, he immediately reaches for his handset to get it down so he doesn’t forget.

Simply Red frontman admits when a killer lyric or tune comes into his head he reaches for his handset to get it down
Dean Chalkley

Simply Red frontman admits when a killer lyric or tune comes into his head he reaches for his handset to get it down[/caption]

Speaking to SFTW, he explains: “People must have thought I was a complete freak. I would be sat on a plane singing into my mobile phone.

“I wrote all the songs on my phone, and sang all the melodies and lyrics into it. I even sang the horn parts too. And the bass line.”

The songs Hucknall speaks about are now the ten tracks on Simply Red’s 12th studio album Blue Eyed Soul.

In a conference room in The Langham hotel in London, Hucknall’s on top form: cracking jokes and enthusing about the upcoming General Election.

The die-hard Labour supporter feels politically homeless and refuses to vote for Corbyn given the party leader's stance on anti-Semitism
Dean Chalkley

The die-hard Labour supporter feels politically homeless and refuses to vote for Corbyn given the party leader’s stance on anti-Semitism[/caption]

A die-hard Labour supporter, he admits he’ll refuse to support Jeremy Corbyn at the ballot box once again, after refusing to vote for him in 2017 over his stance on anti-Semitism.

Hucknall, 59, laments: “I can’t vote for Corbyn. I feel politically homeless. There are millions of people out there, who are moderate. But our politics now has gone to the extreme.

“So we have the extreme Left position and the extreme Right wing positions – which is equally as terrifying.

“I find all of the party leaders scary to be honest. I don’t relate to either of the extreme positions.

Frontman Mick Hucknall with Simpy Red bandmates
Dean Chalkley

Frontman Mick Hucknall with Simpy Red bandmates[/caption]

“I thought of Britain as a moderate place. Britain isn’t a place of majority madness, we’re not like that.”

Dressed in jeans and a casual cashmere jumper, Mick sits back on a large sofa and makes it clear he’s ready to talk music, accepting he’d started to become too obsessed with politics.

He says: “All this crap we’re going through in this country. I became so absorbed by it all.

“This album was an escape from it, like, ‘Get me the hell out of here’.

Hucknall’s self-proclaimed 'Brexit break' didn’t last long, with the album taking just weeks to put together
Dean Chalkley

Hucknall’s self-proclaimed ‘Brexit break’ didn’t last long, with the album taking just weeks to put together[/caption]

“All of us, we want this to stop. When is it going to end?

Hucknall’s self-proclaimed “Brexit break” didn’t last long, with the album taking just weeks to put together.

He says: “Studios are very expensive so you don’t want to waste time in them. I wrote the whole album in two months. “I had two aims with the record. I wanted to design the music the band would enjoy playing night after night. And I wanted to push my voice harder.

“So I made the songs grainier and a bit dirtier.

Simply Red last released an album in 2015 and Hucknall says he believed that was it for the band
Getty – Contributor

Simply Red last released an album in 2015 and Hucknall says he believed that was it for the band[/caption]

“We recorded the album the old-fashioned way, just like the Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

“The band and I would go straight into each song — take three would normally be the final version. It’s the traditional way of recording.

“And the best. The process was fast, which is what I wanted. A lot of that is down to the fact I have a real band. They are seasoned, great musicians so they can.”

Simply Red last released an album in 2015 and Hucknall says he believed that was it for the band.

Hucknall had no intentions of ever making the new Simply Red record
Getty Images – Getty

Hucknall had no intentions of ever making the new Simply Red record[/caption]

He explains: “I had no intention of ever making this record.

“When I stopped Simply Red the reason was to bring up my daughter Romy. I wanted to be a dad that was around.

“That’s when I stopped music. At the time it was like she saw her dad going into the world of fame as her dad being under threat. And she wanted her dad back.

“I was always going to be Dad. And I can safely say I was able to enjoy each day, every day.

Singer Mick Hucknall and partner Gabriella Wesberry
Getty Images – Getty

Singer Mick Hucknall and partner Gabriella Wesberry[/caption]

“With a kid, it’s the little things, the little moments you miss out on. And I was there the first moment she walked.

“Every question she’s had I have been there, when she’s confused. I have always been there for those little moments. And you never get those again.

“It is rare to have a man doing that but I imagine that’s my father’s dedication rubbing off on me.”

Hucknall’s mother, Maureen, is estranged from him after leaving the family’s Denton semi when he was just three-years-old.

In May the couple celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary
News Group Newspapers Ltd

In May the couple celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary[/caption]

He speaks fondly of his dad Reg, who died in 2009, and said he tried to emulate his father in all aspects of his life.

He says: “For 16 years it was just me and my dad. He was incredibly dedicated to me and keeping it together.

“There was no one on our estate in east Manchester who was being brought up by their father.

“He worked six days a week as a barber. He came home, would cook dinner, wash up and then do the laundry.

Confessions about taking heroin and cocaine became his Groundhog Day
Getty – Contributor

Confessions about taking heroin and cocaine became his Groundhog Day[/caption]

“We couldn’t even have a pet because there would be no one at home to look after it. I still don’t know how he did it.”

Hucknall’s softer side has often been overshadowed by his years of hedonism.

Confessions about taking heroin and cocaine, and a career dogged by his own claim of bedding more than 3,000 women — something Hucknall now insists was taken out of context — became his Groundhog Day.

A polite note from his publicist asked us to refrain from asking about Hucknall’s sex life because he finds it “all a bit boring”.

Hucknall says, 'I am in heaven. Before I was married, my only perception of a family was me and my dad'
Rex Features

Hucknall says, ‘I am in heaven. Before I was married, my only perception of a family was me and my dad’[/caption]

And it’s likely his wife of ten-years, art dealer Gabriella Wesberry is sick of reading about his seedy exploits.

Hucknall says: “I am still surrounded by beautiful women. Even the dog is gorgeous too. She’s an absolute beauty.

“I am in heaven. Before I was married, my only perception of a family was me and my dad.

“So there I was, I get married, I have a kid — and I joke even the dog is a girl — so from being brought up by one man to being surrounded by these three girls, it was a whole different learning experience. “I am grateful I have been blessed with a family that I never imagined I would ever even understand what that is, let alone have my own family.

Hucknall says, 'One of my biggest joys is that my fame ends at the front door. Once I walk in I am Dad and Husband'
Granada Television

Hucknall says, ‘One of my biggest joys is that my fame ends at the front door. Once I walk in I am Dad and Husband’[/caption]

“One of my biggest joys is that my fame ends at the front door. Once I walk in I am Dad and Husband.”

In May Hucknall and his wife Gabriella celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.

He says: “I am the lucky guy because I have a remarkable woman. She is a wonderful person, my wife. She is emotionally stable.

“She is the eldest of three kids. She has this leadership thing. She is very good at organising things, she is very thorough.

Hucknall says: 'I am the lucky guy because I have a remarkable woman. She is a wonderful person, my wife'
Getty – Contributor

Hucknall says: ‘I am the lucky guy because I have a remarkable woman. She is a wonderful person, my wife’[/caption]

“She speaks six languages, she is very clever. And she is a great mum. She is incredible. Ten years of marriage has gone so fast. This year, what the hell happened to this year?

“This is the quickest year of my life. The best years of my entire life have been the last 12 years, without a shadow of a doubt. That is when my daughter was born.

“I learned to love because of my girls. And that is the essence of my song, Complete Love.

“I feel like I’ve finally found my happiness.”

Hucknall on stage with guitarist Ronnie Wood
Publicity – Getty

Hucknall on stage with guitarist Ronnie Wood[/caption]

Hucknall’s decision to start writing new music came after a drunken night out with a friend, who told him to go back to his roots.

He says: “I was honestly so happy at home, I really wasn’t planning to do this. But then I was at a birthday party last year with an Irish musician friend of mine.

“And we got a bit tipsy and towards the end of the night he said: ‘Ah, Mick, you’re a great soul singer’.

“And it stuck with me. Over the years I’ve dabbled with reggae and jazz. I’ve even dabbled with a bit of techno, on Love In The Russian Winter.

But the thing he said, it made me want to focus on what people think I am. A blue-eyed soul singer.

“Really this album came from one little thing, that my friend said, that I focused on it. I wanted to do what I am on the tin.

“I tried to stick within the genre of soul, R&B and funk on the entire record. That was my mind the whole way through.

“You can dance to this album straight away and that’s exactly what I wanted. For people to be able to get up and dance and just have fun.


Hucknall will hit the road with Simply Red for 35 dates in 2020 before, he says, he’ll quit the industry again to be with his family.

He says: “The tour is still so far off but I’ve already started thinking about the future and I don’t know if I will do more music. I’ve thought about writing an autobiography but I have not implemented the thought yet, I don’t know if I ever will.

“I am so happy at home, I really wasn’t planning to do Blue Eyed Soul. But I am very pragmatic about it now. I don’t make any plans any more. I am just grateful and happy I am still here. I am very lucky as I have a job I love. I know a lot of people say it but I do feel blessed.”

SIMPLY RED Blue Eyed Soul

★★★★

1. Thinking Of You

2. Sweet Child

3. Complete Love

4. Take A Good                Look

5. Ring That Bell

6. BadBootz

7. Don’t Do Down

8. Riding On A Train

9. Chula

10. Tonight


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