Posted at 1:13 AM, 30 March 2010 -
A new interview with Brian Higgins and new Xenomania protégé Alex Gardner was published on the latest Scotland on Sunday. You can now read the article online. This is one of those rare and insightful interviews with Brian Higgins.
Important things that you might learn: Brian's work ethic comes from his father, who was so committed to being a GP that he barely saw him; he stopped composing at the piano a long time ago; «pop music is maths»; he's been listening to New Order, Kate Bush and Lady Gaga; Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" is «the best pop song of the past 15 years». Highlights:
- Brian Higgins says that melody is life-sustaining. "Water is the more precious resource – but only just," he chuckles. He is currently listening to: "Classic New Order as always, Kate Bush's Cloudbursting and Poker Face by the fantastic Lady Gaga."
- Higgins on Franz Ferdinand: "Given they'd worked on new songs for three years, I expected them to have more urgency. But I still love them. Take Me Out is the best pop song of the past 15 years."
- Xenomania had started above a pine furniture shop but Higgins always believed that songwriting required blissful surroundings. "My fantasy had been to write songs in Paris. I got there eventually and out of that experience came All I Wanna Do for Dannii Minogue – my first top five.". [Another notable song written in Paris was Girls Aloud's "Call The Shots".]
- Alex Gardner thought he'd entered a fairytale world even before he knew of the Alice In Wonderland connotations with the Xenomania mansion. "The house is incredible. In every cubbyhole, people are making music – and in the summer they take their guitars into this beautiful, three-tiered garden. I guess that must have been a massive inspiration for Alice – it's the most amazing, peaceful, creative place."
- Higgins was impressed by Gardner's work ethic. "I know I'm demanding, but we're not here to make up the numbers. My work ethic comes from my father who was so committed to being a GP that I barely saw him. Most people, when they're writing songs, trust their first instincts; I'm always suspicious of that. And I stopped composing at the piano a long, long time ago."
- Alex gives away Brian's secrets: "He'd sing into a dictaphone in one corner and in another I'd do the same. At first I found him intimidating but he quickly became giggly and excited."
- Alex first auditioned to be the singer in Xenomania's house band JFK. Higgins: "I'd heard him sing some songs by a couple of the guys who work here and, to be honest, Alex didn't do it for me until I was persuaded to listen to one of his own compositions. It was terrific. Then he came in to Xenomania and, after hardly any time in the house, I told him: 'I'm not going to let you leave until we've made a great pop record.'" Higgins says that "working with Alex was inspirational" and that he is an "extremely personable lad".
- Alex Gardner can't decide which is his favourite pop moment at Xenomania HQ: bumping into Alesha Dixon and Girls Aloud, Kylie Minogue saying "hi" or Sarah Harding asking him where she could get some meatballs (oh dear).