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How Newbury musician Joe Hicks turned the last year around

Cancelled gigs made time for an album

In April last year, just into the first lockdown N2 interviewed Newbury musician Joe Hicks. It was a tough time, with gig after gig cancelled. Looking back he can now take positives from a dark time. Since his first single release in 2017, Joe has racked up more than a million digital streams, was BBC Introducing Artist of the Week, has toured this country and Europe and had a slot supporting BRIT award winner Sam Fender. He kicked off Arlington Arts’ first Lockdown Live session on YouTube. We thought it was time to go back to Joe and ask how things were now, nearly a year on

"WHAT a 12 months it’s been for all of us... 2020 was supposed to be all about touring for me and as I watched every show in my diary get cancelled one by one it was a tough time. It took me a while to get over that and reset my way of thinking, but it’s actually led to an incredible opportunity to write new music.

I had got myself into a pretty relentless cycle of live gigs and kept putting off getting new material together, so if there is a blessing to be found in all this, having the time to write has definitely been it for me. It hadn’t occurred to me to make an album, but by the time I got to six song ideas my producer Sam Winfield started saying ‘album’ to me at every opportunity and now I’ve got no choice but to go all the way.

I’m very grateful that the brilliant Studio 91 in Greenham is close by. Sam is an incredible producer who is regularly making records that get on BBC radio and we have a great working relationship, so recording is always an exciting and delirious time.
We did a week of pre-production back in September on about seven songs, then picked the four most ready and recorded them in December.

Recently I’ve delved back into the mystical world of live streaming, having taken a break from the screen for a few months.
While not the same as the real thing, it’s been a good way to test out new songs in front of people and work on not being distracted by the comment stream while singing.

Away from music I’ve explored what seems like the entire length of the Kennet and Avon Canal and all of the local commons. We’re very lucky to live in an area with such stunning and inspiring scenery.

My delayed show at Arlington Arts has had to be pushed back again and I’ve gone for September 4 to try and give Covid enough time to clear off so that the concert can be as safe as possible. I’m looking forward to finally getting to play with my band in that cracking venue, and having a lot of new songs to show the audience.

In the meantime I’ll keep writing away. Fingers crossed for a much better rest of 2021.

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