Published: 08/08/2014 09:38 - Updated: 08/08/2014 10:03

BELLA INTERVIEW 8: Blockheads give Derek reasons to be cheerful

The Blockheads
The Blockheads

DEREK Hussey was never meant to be a Blockhead, let alone take the place of the much missed Ian Dury as frontman of the New Wave band.

Yet in the 14 years since the death of Dury, "Derek the Draw" has found himself increasingly coming to the fore in the group.

In fact, Hussey was not even a musician when he made his first appearance with The Blockheads.

He had his own successful film special effects business, which allowed him the chance to take time off and join Dury and his band on the road for what Dury called his "little holiday job".

"That involved, if Ian fell on his arse, picking him up," Hussey explained.

"It happened very rarely, I hasten to add, but because of his polio you had to pick him up in a certain way. That developed into me walking him on-stage and, at the end of the show, I’d walk on at the end of Hit Me and help out with the last few rousing ‘hit me-s’ down the microphone.

"Then, when Ian died, the other guys said: ‘You can shout and holler — why don’t you come out and help out with some of the songs Ian did?’"

Even then it was Blockheads guitarist John Turnbull who used to sing all the hits — until he took a break from the band to play with Karl Wallinger’s World Party.

"When he came back, rather cruelly, the guys said: ‘It sounds much better if Derek sings because he’s got a London accent,’" Hussey explained.

"Johnny’s got a fantastic voice, but he’s a Geordie and the accent creeps out sometimes."

Hussey soon found himself co-writing new Blockheads songs, initially with founder-member Chaz Jankel, but more recently with input from the rest of the band and the message that The Blockheads are still in business is clear from the title of recent album Same Horse, Different Jockey.

"All I’ve got to do is remember the words, and Ian used to forget them on a regular basis, so there’s no shame in that," he said.

"I just let the lyrics do the talking really. I just think how lucky I am to be a part of it."

Hussey’s transformation into the lead singer of a rock and roll band coincided with his leaving the film industry, forced out by the increased dominance of digital technology.

"When CGI came in, that did for my business. When we did Braveheart, they needed 50 sets of armour. Now they make just one and clone all the rest," he said.

"I did all the original golden robots for Star Wars and things like that, and all the shiny bits in Gladiator and Judge Dredd, so this has never really been about the cash.

"It’s about getting in the van and going out with the boys. If you keep it on that basis, it keeps you very grounded. I’m happy to be able to go around the country with my mates, entertaining people."

• Derek Hussey appears with The Blockheads at Belladrum’s Hothouse Stage today (Friday 8th August) at 8.45pm.


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