Not many musicians take inspiration from 24-hour news coverage.
But Sheffield’s rootsy songwriter, Mike Hughes, has penned many a number based on the catastrophes and controversies that unfold in rolling news coverage.
“I watch the news a lot,” says Mike, “and it was the news that in inspired Mouths To Feed.
“It was when the London riots were happening and it made me think about the breakdown of society’s framework and the breakdown of religion, economy and the legal system.
“Religion isn’t as potent as it was and that’s not a bad thing but society is breaking down and you could see it in that news coverage.”
But while some – not all – of his numbers take a lead from topical events, he’s adamant they aren’t preachy.
“I’m not trying to tell anybody anything. I’m just holding a mirror up.
“I can’t do anything about these events and I don’t really say if anyone’s right or wrong.”
Another of his news-inspired songs is Temple Blues, a raucous stompy number. “Temple Blues was written from just watching the news as well,” says Mike. “At times watching the news felt like it was just chaos, like the end of the world.”
More locally-inspired songs include the Battle of Orgreave.
“I don’t have to tell you what that’s about,” he laughs.
Although he often performs with a session band, he says: “I’m not bothered about being in a band.
“Being on your own is better creatively and cuts out a lot of the layers of people you have to deal with.”
Hughes plays this Friday at the Leadmill, in support of Sheffield’s dark alt rock act Dead Sons.
It will be a very special show – and the last live Dead Sons performance for the next year as the band’s frontman, Tom Rowley, is joining the Arctic Monkeys as a session musician.
The band’s keyboardist, Matthew ‘Byrnie’ Byrnes, says: “We were a bit shocked when Tom told us the news at first.
“We were in the back of a van travelling to Manchester and he said ‘I’ve got something to tell you’ and explained.
“We are all really excited for him and it can only be a good thing for us.”
This now means that Dead Sons’ second album is a transatlantic production.
“We’re like a proper big band now, we’re sending files over to Tom and he’s sending stuff back that he’s working on. It’s good as well that he’s out there in terms of inspiration – he’s surrounded by a lot of interesting people doing interesting stuff.”
Rowley’s absence has focused Dead Sons into writing more material.
“It’s actually a good thing. You can get lost in all the admin of booking gigs and running a band but now we can really get our heads down. We will be releasing some singles though.”
Friday’s show, according to Byrnes, is a big thank you to the band’s fans.
“It’s just a way of showing our appreciation for their support.”