Paul Heaton Interview

Paul Heaton is someone we’ve wanted to pin down for Proper for a while. When various factors dictated we couldn’t fit this interview (and some other great stuff) in the new issue, we weren’t very happy. It’s the nature of the beast though, and has happened with pretty much every issue we’ve done.

Instead of it going to waste though, we thought we share it here, for nowt.

Choppy Crawford caught up with his idol and documented it for Proper. Thanks to him and Paul for doing this.

On the recent pedals and beer pumps tour, which pro cyclist would you have liked to have cycle beside you, for what leg of the tour and also what was the hardest climb on the tour?

That’s a good starter! Er probably one of the old Quick-Step team like Paolo Bettini. He always came across as a bit of a laugh. For the Ratlinghope to Warwick leg. Murder!

During the pedals & beer pumps, what song stuck in your head most?

Well the number 1’s in my personal charts for the months I was away (May and June) were Cropper Lads by Mawkin:Causley and Dreams Come True by Cass McCombs. So I would have to say one of those.

You’re well known as a Sheffield United fan and have a long association with Inter. We even spotted you at Edgeley Park a few times a couple of years back. Are you still much of a match goer?

I rarely go to Stockport these days and never go abroad to watch football because of the damage a flight would do to the environment. Sheffield United will continue to be a strange affliction for me. I never look to the future- I daren’t! Enjoy the past and the present and hope to the God Tony Kenworthy it’s less turbulent in the future.

What do you think the future holds for Italian football after the matching fixing and EPO scandals to effect the game in Italy?

The club game, like every other country, will tend to be reflected by the wealth of those countries top sides, and that for the Italian Serie A can only be bad news. Inter, Milan, Juve and Roma are going to struggle. Italian football at international level doesn’t necessarily have to reflect that. Rather like the French team of 10/15 years ago they can still produce a great side without having a great league to boast.

During your trips away writing, where are the most inspiring and uninspiring places with a square table you have found and do you ever go back for a second sitting?

Uninspiring- North Tenerife. Inspirational unknown- Gol, Norway in the middle of winter. You should know it HAS to be a square table. At a round table, the ideas fall off the sides for the Stings and Morrisseys below!

You’re a man of many hats and jackets, which combination do you treasure the most?

I give hats a skip these days. I think it’s important that people know that there exists a man, in a band, who’s 49 and HAS got hair. As far as jackets go I bought a Pretty Green one recently but the toggles fell off.

Favourite all time footwear?

My adidas Ian Brown’s are my current and favourite.

It has been said the Housemartins were one of the first bands that terrace lads could relate to, did you find a lot of football lads at the early gigs?

Yeah there was quite a bit, especially the further north we went. By the time we got up to Aberdeen circa 1986 it was 90% ASC [Aberdeen Soccer Casuals] in the crowd.

What’s your views on the state of modern day football and what do you think of the FC United set up?

I think the FC United set up is great. If you love something enough you have to take some element of control. I however love the park game more than the commercial game and I assure you I have the same amount of tantrums at the Sunday side I manage as you see in the ‘big game’.

Would you say you were more or less political than you were during your time in the Housemartins? Has your perspective changed since then?

I’m about the same. I still believe in complete nationalisation of everything apart from the Royal Family. I’d sell them to the Saudis. I believe in total redistribution of wealth. It’s only the political classes that have announced that this is no longer attainable. They would.

On tour which crowds are always the best dressed?


Did you tour Italy in the 80s? If so do you remember the Paninaro scene?

I was right in the middle of it but not when I was touring. Recording in 88-89 with the Beautiful South we were out in those outside bars and burger joints.

You’re known for having an addiction to collecting things e.g. football memorabilia and crisp packets. Was that obsessive streak evident in the music you listened to growing up?

No, not really. I wrote down everything John Peel played in the late 70’s but didn’t really collect anything.

Your songs are infamously full of catchy melodies but with acerbic dark lyrics. Whose songwriting do you admire who may have the same qualities?

Elvis Costello back then when I was younger but now Eilen Jewell.

What are you reading at the moment?

Hate by Matthew Collins and William Blum’s Freeing The World To Death

How are the plans coming along for your 50th?

They’re not beyond organising a 2500 mile trip on my bicycle for pubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

What does the future hold for Paul Heaton?

More musical happiness and Sheff Utd misery I hope!

Thanks once again to Paul Heaton and Choppy.

Mark Smith

I had pizza for tea.


  1. What an absolute hipocrite, and to think I used
    to listen to this commie TWAT!!! NFSE.

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