Minstrel Robyn marks a milestone in the most natural way in the world
Robyn Hitchcock turns 60 this month and he's marking the occasion in the best way he can think of – going on tour to entertain us with his songs.
The arty pop purveyor will showcase tracks from his brand new album, the ten-track Love From London – as well as delving into his weighty back catalogue – in a series of gigs around the UK, including one at Exeter's Phoenix on March 6, three days after his birthday.
Robyn would like to say that the time has whizzed by in a flash.
"But I can't say it seems like only yesterday that I was a hairy 20-year-old kid... that does seem like ages ago and you can't argue with the map of time," he muses. "Your hair and teeth don't suddenly fall out overnight."
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Robyn recalls his 15-year-old self sitting around listening to Bob Dylan and the Beatles and the Incredible String Band, and deciding that he wanted to make music. He acknowledges that he has been on quite a journey in between.
"It's funny to think that my whole adult life has been dictated by this person who didn't know very much at all..." he adds.
"By nature I am a rather panicky person; the world has always been about to end. If I could give my younger self any advice I would just say keep going, you're on the right track. And that you can still walk around and breathe while the catastrophe is going on."
His father Raymond, although trained in engineering, became a writer, painter and cartoonist, so creativity came naturally to Robyn and his two sisters Lal Hitchcock, now a 3D artist, and FR Hitchcock, who writes children's books.
"He was always going into a room and creating things; it didn't work out for him, though," says Robyn, who also paints and whose wife, Michele Noach, is a renowned artist and cartoonist, best known for her lenticular images.
"I chose music which, for me, is the most intense of all. I physically need to play the guitar; I don't have a choice about it."
After cutting his teeth in various art school and college bands, he found his first success as a founder member of the art-rock band The Soft Boys in 1976.
Settling into a mainly solo career, he has also been a serial collaborator having played with numerous respected musicians over the years, including John Paul Jones, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Peter Buck of REM, Nick Lowe, Abigail Washburn, Grant Lee Phillips, Martin and Eliza Carthy, Howe Gelb, Krystle Warren, Graham Coxon and Johnny Marr.
Robyn is renowned for his observational and thought-provoking writing and songs he describes as "paintings you can listen to".
Love From London is, as it sounds, an album mostly of love songs or elements of relationships.
"It celebrates life in a culture imperilled by economic and environmental collapse," he says. "We are surfing on the momentum of chaos. If a consensus on the reality of global warming comes from the people, then the media, the politicians and the corporations will have to adapt to it."
Robyn has strong links to the Westcountry through his wife, who was artist in residence at the Eden Project for three years, working mainly on an Arctic poppy project. She also created a series of lenticulars at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in memory of the gardeners and estate workers who were lost in the First World War.
The couple have both been involved in the Cape Farewell environmental arts project and Robyn's last visit to the Westcountry in summer 2011 to play an Eden Sessions set with Martin Carthy, Mike Heron of The Incredible String Band, and Green Gartside of Scritti Politti.