A 13 minute video about the making Darren Hayman’s album – Chants for Socialists
wiaiwya – 2 February 2015 – CD/LP/DL
Darren Hayman is a thoughtful, concise and detailed songwriter. He eschews the big, the bright and the loud for the small, twisted and lost. For 15 years, and over 14 albums, Hayman has taken a singular and erratic route through England’s tired and heartbroken underbelly.
He returns with a powerful new collection of songs based based on William Morris’s Chants for Socialists. The album is due for release on wiaiwya on 2 February and was recorded at three of Morris’s homes; The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow (with a choir of left-leaning locals), Kelmscott House in Hammersmith (where volunteers hand printed the record sleeves on the Albion press used by Morris) and Kelmscott Manor in Gloucestershire, (where Hayman played Morris’s own piano).
The result is a beautifully crafted album, lovingly produced with a team of enthusiastic helpers, made available for everyone to pay what they can afford or what they think it’s worth. Chants for Socialists is an album of 19th century chants made relevant to the 21st century while staying true to many of William Morris’s ideals
Darren explains the process below:
In 2012, I found a photocopied leaflet in the William Morris Gallery, in Walthamstow, called ‘Chants for Socialists’. It struck me as a bold and divisive title. Not one you would be likely to find on a record or CD today.
There are very few of my contemporaries that sing political songs and I understand why. Today’s politics can be very nuanced and personal. The way we discuss today’s problems can be hard to reduce to a song or short poem. Political songs can be gauche and hectoring. I struggle myself, and can only really claim to have written a handful of overtly political songs over a 15-album career.
William Morris wrote these lyrics in the late 19th century; they were to be sung to the popular tunes of the times. In only two cases did he specify a particular melody. I saw these as ‘emergency’ protest songs, something to draw on in times of strife. I think we are in troubled times. I regard these as useful lyrics.
Morris grouped these songs under a banner of socialism and I class myself as a socialist, but these songs, to me, are more about simple kindness and hope. I acknowledge the naivety and rhetoric in these words. They offer few practical solutions for today, but I love their simplicity. They make me feel young again. They remind of the hope I had in the Red Wedge movement, and how politicised I was around the 1984 miner’s strike.
Adapting the lyrics was not easy. In places I have edited hard and tried to contemporise the syntax. Elsewhere, I have been more faithful to Morris’s elliptical and florid prose. Similarly with the music, I have tried to build a bridge between the 19th and 21st centuries. I have dressed the songs with a simple, urban folk sound. Warm, fuzzy guitar distortion sits alongside broken pianos and dented brass.
I offer these songs as political, historical curiosities and as something to comfort aging lefties like myself. They are uplifting, songs to be sung in communities.
A communal approach was taken in the recording of this album. The group vocals were recorded at two of Morris’s former homes: the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow and Kelmscott House in Hammersmith. Singers were invited indiscriminately from the local area. Morris’s own letterpress was used to hand print the limited vinyl edition of the record, and I also travelled to another of Morris’s homes, Kelmscott Manor, to record his piano.
The record is being released in a number of ways. There is a CD version and hand letter-pressed vinyl edition as well as a deluxe version with an extra ‘dub’ version of the album.
Most importantly to us, however, the digital version will be free or ‘pay what you feel’; the idea being that people should only contribute that which is within their means. Hopefully this is a just means of exchange to match my wildly naïve, utopian dreams.
You can track the album’s progress via this blog: http://chantsforsocialists.blogspot.co.uk
Learn more about Darren Hayman here: www.hefnet.com
For press info please contact Lucy Hurst at butilikeyouPR | firstname.lastname@example.org
All prices include Postage and Packing.
I have sold out of the red vinyl edition and the double red and green one (with extra dub version). The red vinyl is still available from WIAIWYA records and record shops.
DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE HERE. PAY WHATEVER YOU WANT! ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need’
Despite the fact that I don’t write songs for these records one of the most fulfilling projects I have been involved with in the past few years is Papernut Cambridge.
Papernut Cambridge is the brainchild of Ian Button who currently drums in the Long Parliament. Live, I drum for Papernut, but on record I contribute keyboards and saxophone and bits.
It’s just such a beautiful sound that Ian makes. One of those bands that exists in it’s own universe. The band features’s lots of other characters from my musical past including Jack from hefner and Robert Rotifer as well as artists as diverse as Mary Epworth and Ralegh Long. It’s a band made up of front people, but somehow it all works. This will make you smile.
The record can be bought as a beautiful 7 inch boxset with a download code included – 12 main album tracks plus EIGHT bonus/alternate and extended mixes exclusive to the vinyl version. There is also a super cheap CD version.
Here’s my favourite song of this year by Papernut Cambridge
Buy the Papernut Cambridge – There’s No Underground 3 x 7inch Set Direct from Darren (inc P+P)
Also playing this gig, supporting the Wave Pictures in Wakefield, next Friday.
I feel I may have under promoted this gig. Playing an early evening show on Tuesday in Crewe with acoustic piano and tenor guitar.
Written out the set for the Withered @witheredhand show. Put a few Hefner songs in. Bringing my fuzz pedal.
Recently with all the Occupation shows and odd train gigs and the like it’s been rare that I’ve got on stager with the band and just kicked out the jams. This is the only time for a while that I will.
This is a charity raffle for a song written about a dog by Darren Hayman. The bloke that used to be in Hefner.
As some of you may know, one of my favourite bands at the moment is Papernut Cambridge. I’ll admit they are friends and I also do get to play with them. I play drums live and on the record I contribute saxophone and synths.
They really are strangely familiar but also completely unique. Like all the best bands they create a magical world where only they exist.
They are about to launch their new record on a 3 seven inch boxset with free download. That’s the type of band they are.
The album is called ‘There’s No Underground’ and will be launched at a special show on a disused underground train in Walthamstow on the afternoon of Saturday 18th October. There are two different times you can book for due to the restricted nature of the venue.
I’ll be there, playing drums, singing my socks off.
Show 1: 1.30pm
Show 2: 4.30pm
Planning a special set for this gig with the legendary Wizz jones curated by @petepaphides I’m bringing the modular synthesizer. Going to do stuff from the next two albums. My brief I have been given is ‘Psych folk’.