No pressure for Thresher
IN a music scene dominated by seriousness and controversy, it's refreshing to find a band who are unapologetically fun. After six years and six albums, the Lancashire Hotpots are still bringing joy to audiences across the UK – and all this without giving up their day jobs.
"Four of the five Hotpots still work Monday to Friday," says frontman Bernard Thresher. "The other one has a Jeremy Kyle addiction, but we work around that," he laughs.
"There's something nice about just getting together at the weekend. If this was our job day in, day out, we'd probably get sick of each other."
While the band are in demand as a live act now, hand picked by Paddy McGuinness to open for his last arena tour, the Hotpots story began with a bunch of mates just wanting to make people laugh.
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"We wanted to put together a comedy band around a folk music theme. We came up with some songs and people liked them and wanted to see us perform. It's only three chords and a few words so we thought 'why not?'"
Their songs are, almost without exception, about drinking real ale and the trials and tribulations that come with a boozy night out.
"The idea always comes first – either something you're tremendously happy about or an annoyance and it builds from there. You try to find three chords to fit around it. Well, it's a tiny bit more complicated than that, but that would ruin the myth," he laughs.
Their album-a-year work rate is to satisfy the desire for new songs, he says.
"We've been playing shows for five years and if you want people to come back again you need to give them something new. Of course, we'll play Chippy Tea and the others that people want, but we also want to keep it fresh for ourselves. We like playing live and being able to charge increasingly more for tickets" he laughs.
"We love to make people laugh and when you do a joke for the first time and you see people get it, there's no better feeling."
While the band's songs may be rooted in traditional British drinking culture, the songs are never overtly rude. If anything they are no more offensive than a Carry On film. And that's intentional.
"I think we could have another three or four albums if we recorded some of the rude songs we've thought about," laughs Thresher.
"But we like the fact that we can do matinee shows with mum, dad and the kids."
The band were hit by tragedy two years ago when original drummer Willie Eckerslike (real name Tom McGrath) died suddenly at 38.
How close was this to ending the Lancashire Hotpots?
"We had some time off and then put it to the fans and our friends and family and just asked if people wanted us to carry on. The answer was a huge yes, so we just cracked on.
"It wasn't a tremendously easy time for us, but what doesn't finish you off, only makes you stronger. It's so far, so good for the new chapter of the Hotpots."
The band return to the city next week, supported by The Re-entrants, a ukulele covers band.
Thresher says: "I've actually got a tattoo as a result of a night out in Nottingham. I met my musical hero, Speedo from Rocket from the Crypt, who signed my shirt. I took that and had it transferred to a tattoo."