Idlewild's Roddy Woomble on getting over his mid-life crisis

A mid-life crisis been successfully navigated by Idlewild's Roddy Woomble on his latest solo album, on the back of which he tours to Brighton.

Monday, 19th March 2018, 6:32 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 6:12 am

Roddy plays The Haunt, Brighton on March 23 as part of a string of solo dates – just as Idlewild get ready to crack on with their next band album.

“My solo records have generally been quite different to the band records. They have been more acoustic based, and from that they have got the folk tag. But actually, The Deluder was nothing like that. It was much darker, more played on keyboards, much more of a band recording. Some people who knew my solo records were a bit surprised.

“But it was not a particularly-happy time. We made it over the winter of 2016-17, and I was turning 40. It was my mid-life crisis. It was winter in Scotland, and it was gloomy. It felt kind of like the death of youth, one of those milestones in life.

“When you are making records, I suppose you are… well, not quite putting yourself on the line, but there is always a vulnerability. Every time you approach a record or a milestone, you are thinking ‘What am I doing with my life?’ And when you reach 40, you are kind of thinking it is difficult to do other things, and so it all felt particularly conflicted.”

But the point is that things change… and probably get more interesting.

“We are adults. Idlewild used to get criticised because we didn’t sound how we used to. But when we started, we were 18. Now we are turning 39, 40, 41. We have had marital break-ups, children, people dying… and just life taking hold.”

The solo records started out of creative frustration: “It was about 2005, and Idlewild were at the end of riding a big wave of success. For the past three years, we had been fairly mainstream, but obviously the spotlight is only on you for a certain moment. Things move on. We didn’t renew the deal we had with EMI, and doing a solo record felt like a good way for me to do something a bit more low key and just put something out with a little label. We just did six gigs. I didn’t have any more ambition for it than that.

“But over the years, that first solo record gained a cult following, and when Idlewild took a break through 2010 with people having kids, I picked it up and started making solo records again because I could do them with just a few friends. And because you can just put them out when you want to.

“I think with Idlewild we are more ambitious.”

With the solo records, I have never really pushed myself out there. I am just wanting to make good work that people will listen to for a while.

“It is good. I think I am taken more seriously than if I just kept being a singer in a band. People have realised that there is a palette to me in which I do a lot of different types of songs… and maybe it has also made people think more of the band.”

From the album now comes the single Jupiter.

“The song actually started out as something I was making up for and with my son, who is eight years old and quite interested in astronomy. Working on it with my band, who are all adults, it developed and took on a new meaning; the emphasis and hope we place in mysterious things we don’t fully understand, constellations, planets, astrology, the secrets we keep from each other, while still aiming to keep some of the fun, irreverent nature of the original idea, both in the music and lyrics.”