Interview: Half Man Half Biscuit

"When I die I want to be buried with them!" — The Man Half Biscuit Interrogation

With seven hit albums under their collective belts, Half Man Half Biscuit enjoy a reputation of eccentricity, keen to evade commercial success, dodge acclaim, revelling in their cult status. They've been releasing work through Liverpool's Probe Plus Records for 15 years; had two indie number one albums (the infamous much praised ‘Back in The DHSS’, the rest top twenty at least and god knows how many sessions for John Peel, who has declared them "a national treasure...when I die I want to be buried with them!", have helped keep them in the public eye.

The Birkenhead combo are happy in their indie world, still to this day refusing to defect to a major label despite tempting offers; the band's motormouthed singer and songwriter Nigel Blackwell explains this curiously low key approach as Half Man Half Biscuit release their 8th album, ‘Trouble Over Bridgewater’.

"I'm not aspiring to great things, I'm very easily pleased, I'm not ambitious musically. I feel as if I've achieved my ambition by just releasing an LP, existing as a band and people hearing the band," he says simply. "We've got quite a bit of respect, people like us, we're not people's favourite band because we're not deadly serious, we're people's third favourite...I think that's how we are perceived, and that's great"

The band have fans in high places - Blur specially requested that Half Man Half Biscuit supported them at London's Meltdown Festival and Mansun's Paul Draper declared The Biscuits' ‘Voyage To The Bottom Of The Road’ his favourite LP of 1998. But, all in all, the jury seems to be out and still conferring on Wirral's most famous sons, reviews varying in the most extreme of ways.

"Terrible reviews?" says Nigel, "Even when we were just starting we expected terrible reviews because we were not of that world. The thing is, I never expect anything," he claims of his infamous pessimistic sense of humour. "Ultimately, it's optimistic because if I always think nothing's gonna happen, it's a pleasant surprise when it does. It's that simple."

Half Man Half Biscuit's new LP Trouble Over Bridgewater is out now on Probe Plus Records, Catalogue No Probe 48CD.

Cath Bore

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