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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 August, 2003, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
Haines orchestrates career best
by Michael Hubbard
BBC News Interactive entertainment

Singer and songwriter Luke Haines talks about his varied and productive music career.

Since being nominated for the first Mercury music prize for The Auteurs' debut LP New Wave, Luke Haines has ranked amongst the UK's most prolific songwriters.

Luke Haines
Up close, Haines is not the dour character portrayed by the media
He has released albums under his own name, with The Auteurs, as Baader Meinhof and with Black Box Recorder, whose single The Facts Of Life hit the top 20 in 2000.

And as his record label requests a best of album, he releases Das Capital - an expensive LP of old Auteurs songs presented with orchestral arrangements. It is typically perverse of the man.

Often depicted by the music press as the Victor Meldrew of British music, is Haines just awkward, or does the world in general misunderstand him?

"(My label) were wanting to do a career retrospective, and I was a bit sniffy about the whole thing," he says.

People often mistake me for an incredibly miserable person. It's not as obvious as that but I thought I'd play up to it
Luke Haines
"A compilation of my stuff is not going to sound that good because every record sonically has a different sound. I said certain songs could benefit from orchestration and they said okay."

He is pleased with the result, as "rather than a tawdry compilation of bits stuck together, we have an incredibly-expensive-to-make 'best of', revisited and reworked".

"If it had been a retrospective I would have put it out as a double CD. As it was it cost about 80,000. A compilation might have cost about 2,000 in remastering."

As to the involvement of the other Auteurs, Haines is forthright.

"The Auteurs always had a fairly nebulous line-up," he says. "I wrote all the songs... there was no collaboration. Everyone has always played every note I've told them to play, right down to the drummer."
Luke Haines, Das Capital
Haines has had the last word in producing the compilation

His other band Black Box Recorder, featuring the vocal talents of Sarah Nixey and songwriting collaborator John Moore, are still together, too. They released their third album Passionoia earlier in 2003.

"Black Box Recorder is a more egalitarian thing - we had to have committee meetings every time we wanted to rehearse.

"You set yourself up in competition with yourself. I guess this is a problem Damon Albarn has, too, but on a slightly larger scale."

Is he as miserable as his image suggests?

"People often mistake me for an incredibly miserable person. It's not as obvious as that but I thought I'd play up to it."

In many of his publicity shots he says he is not being entirely serious. "I was perfecting my best scowl," he says.

Indeed, he once began an album with the line, 'This is not entertainment'.

"I'm revising my opinion on that," he says. "My output as a whole is a rollercoaster romp of good slapstick entertainment."

  • Das Capital - The Songwriting Genius Of Luke Haines And The Auteurs is available on Virgin Records.

    CD Review: Black Box Recorder
    01 May 00  |  Entertainment

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