From a warehouse to Murky Water

Leisure Society with Nick Hemming at the wheel.
Leisure Society with Nick Hemming at the wheel.

NICK Hemming never expected the music he’d been knocking up in his bedroom to be the subject of a prestigious music award. But it was.

His track, The Last of the Melting Snow, which the artist had penned in between shifts at a warehouse, was nominated for an Ivor Novello award in 2009. And when, during the press conference, Hemming mentioned that he had to dash “because I have to get back to work at the warehouse,” the press went mad. Here was a man who, without any corporate backing, had written a song worthy of one of the most sought-after decorations in the music business. “It was all pretty surreal,” says Hemming. “It’s come around quite late for me - I’m 38 now.”

But he’s philosophical about it. “The years of disappointment made me start writing meaningful lyrics.”

In fact, it was disappointment that led him to write The Last of the Melting Snow. Hemming had split up with a long-term girlfriend and didn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve in the same town, so he travelled to London, hoping to see his other friends. “But they were all away at the time so I spent New Year’s Eve alone and it was awful but I wrote that song about it. That’s the great thing about being able to write. All songs are cathartic in some way or another.”

Needless to say, since then Hemming’s career has catapulted. Working alongside former band mates from his previous band, She Talks To Angels, he formed the Leisure Society, whose material is complex and melodic. The group - under Hemming’s musical direction - have written scores for Shane Meadows films Dead Man’s Shoes and A Room for Romeo Brass. “We used to be in a band years ago at art college and we’re all from the same town - Uttoxeter,” says Hemming.

And now, the Leisure Society is psyching itself up again, for a tour on the back of its latest album, Into the Murky Water. But it’s taken a lot of courage to get to this point. “I wouldn’t sing in front of people for ages,” says Hemming. “I wouldn’t even sing in front of my girlfriend - I used to get so nervous.”

But there is one problem, one that’s documented in the track Happiness Writes White. “Really, when everything’s good there’s nothing to write about and I’m not sure I want to be miserable all the time if that’s what it takes to write good songs,” he laughs.

Leisure Society play at The Harley on Thursday February 16