INTERVIEW: Former Strangler Hugh Cornwell on his movie music podcast

By Carron Stacey, A Humdrum Mum

Hugh Cornwell (former Stranglers singer/guitarist) has a movie music podcast – in fact it has been going for 4 years now and has nearly 100 episodes – read on to discover more.

  • Read on for reasons including Brian Eno, Cindy Crawford and Bob Hoskins

AHM: Hugh, my immediate thought on reading up about your contemporary cinema class you took at secondary school was amazement that it was run by your chemistry teacher. Now in my experience, they are either musty old men with dandruff or mad chemists (a la Breaking Bad). What was it about your chemistry teacher that made him teach this class? 

HC: Yes, his name was Mr Harris and he was a young, likeable guy with a great sense of humour. so when he announced he was going to be giving this class I immediately joined it. He opened my eyes to a world I had no idea existed at the time. I was one of the only members of the class that took the class seriously and followed up on his advice to visit the Everyman cinema. I remember he was surprised when I told him I had gone to see Bunuel’s ‘Viridiana’ there, as he had recommended. 

AHM: What was the teenage Hugh like who visited the Everyman? It must have been an amazing place to visit in itself with its rich history?

HC: I used to walk there from my parent’s house. It was a good 40 minutes each way. I remember it was never more than half full and occasionally they would show more popular films, I guess to subsidise their screenings of the more obscure films that were being recommended to me! I remember a very good season of Rene Clair films and another of Jean Renoir, also a fantastic run of Italian neo-realists.

AHM: Did your friends and contemporaries share the same love of this genre of films as you? 

HC: No, as I said, nobody took the class seriously. They signed up for it because of Mr Harris’s wit rather than any form of educational benefit. The class was one of many to choose from, part of a drive by our headmaster to ‘broaden our horizons’! 

AHM: Thinking of Marcel Carne and the like, how much did this poetic realism influence you in your songwriting? 

HC: I’ve no idea about that.I just write songs in the way they present themselves to me, but I guess my exposure to this rich body of creativity must have had a role in shaping what I do. The world of cinema is a true Pandora’s Box. I am constantly discovering films of interest that I never knew existed before.

AHM: You’ve had some extremely interesting interviewees. I particularly enjoyed Brian Eno talking about his heroism sampling film voice (“dropping it on”) via cassette in the old days. Who’s been your favourite interviewee? 

HC: I’ve been lucky so far. I will always ask for an interview if I get the chance. Brian was very accommodating and was my first guest, so will remain a favourite of mine. Sir Christopher Frayling was great, as he is such a font of film knowledge. I had the pleasure of meeting Cindy Crawford who initially agreed, but then pulled out. Now that would have been interesting.

AHM: Who would be on your wish list, with us or no longer with us? 

HC: I was good friends with Bob Hoskins early on, so would have loved the chance to speak with him. I have a few irons in the fire that I’m hoping will come together, so I’ll keep them quiet for now!

AHM: Your podcasts have been around for a few years now. How do you see this panning out in the future? 

HC: Well, I will keep adding new programs and interviews every month, and hopefully more people will join us to listen in.

It really is a labour of love for me. It’s a great opportunity to escape from music for a while and help spread the word about great films that get overlooked for one reason or another. It’s exactly the same with music. How do you know if you like something if you don’t even know it’s out there?

  • Read more from Carron at her blog A Humdrum Mum
  • Listen to Hugh’s movie music podcast
  • Picture courtesy Cameron Publicity and Marketing Have you heard this podcast, any of these songs or seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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