In Conversation – Tom Hingley and Mike Joyce

Tom Hingley and Mike Joyce (ex The Smiths) recorded in conversation in Manchester on the occasion of the book launch for Carpet Burns.

Tom and Mike discuss Tom’s early life, working at the Hacienda, his time with Inspiral Carpets, the rivalries between the bands of the Madchester era and the experience of working with Mark E Smith and a young Noel Gallagher. In addition, Tom sings three Inspirals songs: ‘Move’, ‘Sackville’ and ‘Saturn 5’

Tom Hingley – Bitches Brew

Tom Hingley performs ‘Bitches Brew’ at the launch of his book Carpet Burns, held at Tap and Barrel, Pontefract.

>>Click here to see Tom Hingley perform ‘Beggar’s Hand’ on the night
>>Click here to see support act Glass Caves perform ‘Swim’ on the night.
>>Click here to see another clip of Glass Caves on the night.

Tom Hingley Reviews Life (Extended)

Signed inlay Life Extended

In 2011 I was ejected from Inspiral Carpets, a band for whom I had sung, composed and recorded with over a twenty-two year period. I had joined the Inspirals in February 1989, four months after their first lead-singer, Stephen Holt, had left. I hit the ground running by helping to promote the band’s first 2 EPs, Plane Crash and Trainsurfing, which Holt had supplied the vocals to. We then recorded the Life album, which reached No. 2 in the UK charts in April 1990, kept off the No. 1 spot by a heavily TV-advertised compilation by The Carpenters.

In 2013 my ex-bandmates and EMI Records re-issued the debut album Life in an extended format (imaginatively titled Life: Extended Edition), encompassing the songs from the original album plus pre-Hingley tracks taken from the band’s 1988 John Peel session and the two EPs: Plane Crash and Trainsurfing. The repackaged album also includes a DVD of our seminal gig at Manchester’s GMEX centre, 21790.

Relations between my former bandmates and myself had become so poor that the reissue was put together without my involvement (and without me even knowing about it until it was announced publicly), despite my contribution to the original material i.e., lead vocals and co-writer on the Life album and accompanying live performance DVD.

The new record credits the 13 original album songs as having been sung by me. There are then a further 13 extra tracks sung by Stephen Holt, which were not originally on the (1990 release) Life album, and do not therefore represent material from the era of that record. With this in mind, this album isn’t so much Life: Extended Edition as Life: Re-imagined.

No serious claims towards the inclusion of the pre-Life tracks on the basis of them being collectable for the completist record buying fan stand much scrutiny, with the majority of the Holt-era tracks having already received an airing on the 2003 Cool As… compilation disc, Rare As… Plus, to my ears, mixing material from the two different vocalists makes for a messy, incoherent feel and sound to the record. Given that Stephen Holt returned to the band after I was ejected, it seems to me that Life: Extended is an attempt to re-invent the album to suggest greater involvement by the departed Holt. I’m not for one second suggesting that Holt didn’t play an important part in the early days of the band, but this didn’t stretch to the Life album, which is why you won’t find mention of him in the original album sleeve notes.

The genuine highpoint of this reissue, and worthy due to its relation to the Life album, is surely the 21790 DVD – spectacular footage recorded during our triumphant hometown gig at the GMEX in July 1990. This performance is stunning and it signifies what Inspiral Carpets represented when I was one fifth of that classic line-up: romantic, drawn on a big scale, explosive, punk driven and inspired. The songs that I wrote, and that the other members wrote for me as their vocalist and muse, were made successful by all five members, through our individual and collective contributions.

In the early days, Inspiral Carpets were a good band who were on the gigging circuit, had built up a following and – like me before I joined them – recorded a Peel session, but the truth is they/we only became that mad pop mongrel, mixing the Garage elements with the Romance of soaring scales of ‘This is How It Feels’ when I was brought into the fold. And that’s not, by any means, to take all of the credit for our commercial success, but to recognise the five of us that were in the band when it enjoyed its heyday.

There is a footnote in the artwork for Life: Extended Edition stating that the line-up of the band features Stephen Holt, but no mention of myself – whilst this may be true of the current time, it’s certainly not true of the Life album line-up. With this in mind, I can’t help but feel that my former bandmates have gone some way to consciously airbrush me out of the band’s long, medium and recent history.

There is an image in Milan Kundura’s novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting where a Communist leader is airbrushed out of a propaganda photo after falling out of favour with the men in charge. Ironically his hat, which he passed to his friend, still remained in the photograph for posterity:

In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Old Town Square. That was a great turning point in the history of Bohemia. A fateful moment of the kind that occurs only once or twice a millennium.

Gottwald was flanked by his comrades, with Clementis standing close to him. It was snowing and cold, and Gottwald was bareheaded. Bursting with solicitude, Clementis took off his fur hat and set it on Gottwald’s head.

The propaganda section made hundreds of thousands of copies of the photograph taken on the balcony where Gottwald, in a fur hat and surrounded by his comrades, spoke to the people. On that balcony the history of Communist Bohemia began. Every child knew that photograph, from seeing it on posters and in schoolbooks and museums.

Four years later, Clementis was charged with treason and hanged. The propaganda section immediately made him vanish from history and, of course, from all photographs. Ever since, Gottwald has been alone on the balcony. Where Clementis stood, there is only the bare palace wall. Nothing remains of Clementis but the fur hat on Gottwald’s head.

With this in mind, I feel like I’ve left my hat on the Inspirals tour bus!

Tom Hingley

Click here for more on Tom and his book Carpet Burns.

Inspiral Carpets Appreciation Society Review

Review of Carpet Burns by Wendy Gabriel for Inspiral Carpets Appreciation Society.

Tom’s book about his life as the singer of the Oldham 5 piece is a real eye-opener, and takes you on a real rollercoaster of the ups and downs of being in a band at the heart of the Manchester music scene.

Setting the backdrop at the very beginning of his Oxford based childhood, brought up by his strict, and unemotional father it sets out that whereas Tom was always the middle class Southerner, the other lads in the Inspirals were Northern and working class.

The autobiography traces his early days with Too Much Texas up until he auditioned (beating Noel Gallagher to the prize) for our favourite garage band.

The Inspirals set up their own label, Cow Records , and also signed to Mute in 1989, and this book tells the tale of their early days, peaking with playing Manchester’s Gmex in 1990 and playing all over the world.

Tom entices the reader with humorous tales, such as their spat with the Happy Mondays who called them ‘Clueless knobheads’, their many drunken pranks and also heartfelt moments such as when Tom gave free tickets to sold out shows to eager fans.

One of the highlights of this book are the origins of the awesome songs they wrote. Who knew the sprightly ‘Caravan’ was all about Nazi Death Marches that concentration camp inmates were subjected to?

Tom honestly opens his diary to all on tours of the U.S, Germany, Belgium, Spain and other European countries which made interesting and detailed reading of the minutae of life on the road, right down to the meals they ate in different cities and different characters they met along the way.

Not shy in exposing the gritty reality of being in a band, Tom writes of problems they had with their manager’s extravagant spending sprees, the intricate difficulties they had with the taxman, and when it all started going pear-shaped after Mute dropped them along the same time they had no publishing contract either.

The last few pages when Tom parted company with the band are written particularly emotively and leave a lump in the throat but ever the survivor, Tom bounces back with new band the Lovers.

A memorable frontmen, a great singer, and now an accomplished author.

The Beast Inside Tour


In support of the publication of his book Carpet Burns, Tom Hingley is taking to the road to tour an extraordinary album with an extraordinary band.

Tom Hingley and The Lovers [Steve Hanley (The Fall) Paul Hanley (The Fall) Kelly Wood and Andrew Tarling] will be performing the Inspiral Carpets 1991 Top 5 UK chart position, second album The Beast Inside at a variety of O2 venues in early September 2012. The majority of these songs haven’t been heard since the albums debut in 1991, the record was considered dark and brooding to some, but has always had a special place in the heart of Inspirals fans. Of all the Inspirals four albums, The Beast Inside is by far the most enduring; from the opening pop classic ‘Caravan’ through to haunting ‘Niagara’ to the epic ‘Furthur Away’.

‘It’s often the case that the second album doesn’t do as well as the first but we’ve carried this cultural cringe around about this album for the last 21 years, it’s never been revisited and it’s greatly loved and missed,’ says Tom, ‘We were a great singles band but that was our only great, coherent album.’

Listen to The Beast Inside on Spotify. Click here.

You can hear played live at the following venues:

Thursday 6 September – Newcastle O2 Academy2 £7Tickets
Friday 7
September – Glasgow O2 ABC2 £7Tickets
Saturday 8
September – Liverpool O2 Academy2 £7Tickets
Sunday 9
September – Birmingham O2 Academy3 £7Tickets
Monday 10
September – Birstol O2 Academy2 £7Tickets
Tuesday 11
September – Cardiff clwb ifor bach £8 Tickets
Thursday 13 September
– London O2 Academy2 Islington £8Tickets
Friday 21 September
– Manchester Ruby Lounge£8Tickets



Inspiral Carpets pulled the rug from under me

A feature on Tom Hingley in Manchester Evening News diary pages, where he reveals the truth about how he left Inspiral Carpets.

When Manc Indie band The Inspiral Carpets announced they were re-forming with their original singer Stephen Holt last year, they insisted it was on good terms with their frontman of some 20 years Tom Hingley.

But Tom’s newly-published autobiography reveals a rather different story – that he was left in tears after being sacked by his bandmates in a hotel in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Tom’s tome, Carpet Burns, tells all the highs and lows of his time with the band after he was recruited in 1989, the band’s 1995 split, reunion in 2003 and his work as both a solo artist and with The Lovers.

But it’s his revelations about being axed from the band last year – on the eve of a new tour – that will raise most eyebrows.

He writes of how he was summonsed to a band meeting at the hotel and told he was being “dismissed” as a member of the band, and that the others would be doing a tour with Stephen singing – a rumour he had heard in the summer.

Tom writes: “With tears streaming down my face, I said that I already knew that. I stuck the letter in my pocket and said that I wouldn’t be an a*** about it. I left the room and took my walk of shame back to the car, and drove away.”

The next day the band announced their reunion and tour with Stephen.

Tom says now that he was powerless to do anything about it – but feels they aren’t the real Inspiral Carpets without him.

He says: “Inspiral Carpets were a gang with Craig (Gill), Martyn (Walsh), Graham (Lambert), Clint (Boon) and me – that gang no longer exists. This is a new band – it’s not that band that appeared on Top Of The Pops or played Reading Festival.

“It’s entirely up to them what they want to do; I legally couldn’t stop them doing it and I had other things I wanted to do. There are two sides to every story and they told people through Twitter and Facebook that Steve (Holt) was singing for them again, but the vast majority of people who bought tickets for their tour in March or the shows they did with the Happy Mondays had no idea I wasn’t singing in the band.

“I’m not trying to make some issue out of that; they’re totally free to do whatever they wanted. But they didn’t tell the fans I wasn’t in the band. It doesn’t upset me, I just don’t think it’s very clever.”
To read the full article on Manchester Evening News website, click here.