All fired up and still seeking the love remedy – back in touch with Andrew Roachford

Andrew Roachford was suffering from the dreaded ‘man flu’ when I called, but insisted, tongue firmly in cheek, ‘I’ll live’, this veteran singer-songwriter looking to steadily build up his energy reserves for impending rehearsals ahead of a 21-date UK tour, some 35 years after his band’s self-titled debut LP, Roachford.

And he’ll need to hit the road running, so to speak, with that tour followed by another nationwide jaunt out front – alongside co-vocalist Tim Howar – with Mike + the Mechanics, in what promises to be another busy year. And as I put it, his cold surely just adds a different timbre to that distinctive voice.

“Exactly. A Barry White manifestation!”

That could set up a whole new set of cover possibilities for a patron of the Music Venue Trust whose latest tour is in support of independent music venues. Billed as ‘An Evening with Roachford’, it arrives on the back of well-received 2020 LP, Twice in a Lifetime and his band’s most recent, much-lauded tour dates. Not as if he’s ever off the road for long.

“I have breaks, but really, I’m one of those touring musicians. That’s kind of what I do. My suitcase is rarely unpacked fully, because I know I’ll be going back out. It’s a lifestyle you either love or hate, and I’m one of those guys that loves it. I wouldn’t be doing anything else. I’ve been really lucky that I’ve never had another job – I’ve always been gigging, since I was a kid. It’s crazy.”

It’s hoped the dates will bring attention to the #OwnOurVenues grassroots campaign, encouraging music communities to buy shares in owning their local venues to protect and improve them. And as he put it, “I’m thrilled to be staging this tour in support of independent music venues and getting out to more regional cities across the UK, to some wonderful local venues and connecting with fans and some of the places I’ve enjoyed playing at so many times over the years. These intimate shows will be something special.”

Seen as one of the most compelling and consistent UK rock and soul artists, Andrew’s someone who – as his press team put it – ‘channels the energy of James Brown before going on stage each night, and who, on record, summons up the spirit of everyone from Al Green to Joe Cocker.’ And there’s nowt wrong with that.

This London-born, Balham-based performer – who turned 58 in late January – has released 11 studio albums and several greatest hits collections since his late ‘80s emergence on the back of the ‘Cuddly Toy’ and ‘Family Man’ hit singles with the band that take his surname, those seeking out his songwriting including Michael Jackson, Joss Stone, and Chaka Khan.

He’s also toured on his own and with contemporaries such as Terence Trent D’Arby and The Christians. And he’s been part of Mike + the Mechanics since 2010, recording and playing live with Mike Rutherford’s post-Genesis band across the world, including upcoming April-June 2023 UK and German ‘Refueled’ tours.

If that link with Mike Rutherford is something of a surprise to you, perhaps it shouldn’t be. Tracks like ‘Won’t Think Twice’ on the last LP put me in mind of the Paul Carrack-era Mechanics covering The Impressions, and in a sense there’s something of a similar feel to Carrack and Roachford’s take on pop soul.

While the wider public may see Andrew’s band as primarily the outfit behind one top-10 hit – and ‘Cuddly Toy’ still receives regular international radio airplay – they have in fact scored eight top-40 singles and five top-40 LPs in the UK. And his most recent long player, Twice in a Lifetime – produced by Jimmy Hogarth (Paolo Nutini, Duffy, Amy Winehouse, his band featuring several members of the latter’s band) – scored five weeks of BBC Radio 2 A-list airplay for inspirational numbers ‘High on Love’, ‘Love Remedy’ and ‘Gonna Be the One’, and reached No.31 on release. But chart positions have never been the focus of this accomplished musician, singer and performer.

Incidentally, all these years on, with those forthcoming dates in mind, does he still get nervous before opening dates, or any other shows? And if so, des he reckon those nerves are essential?

“Ah, always. Especially the first date. Even if you haven’t done it for a month or something, you still feel there’s a bit of rust and wonder, ‘How’s this gonna go down?’ It’s a weird thing that you get into this head trip, but I can’t remember many bad gigs so I don’t know where that’s all coming from, because it always works out. But I think some artists say it’s because you care, and you want it to be the best.

“And I grew up listening to really great live performers and really appreciate a good live gig. I don’t want, you know, lukewarm – people going, ‘Oh, it was okay.’ It doesn’t work that way for me. I’m looking to have people leave there completely blown away, and lifted. So it’s quite a pressure I put on my own shoulders.”

Well, if you’re feeling it, hopefully everyone else will.

“Yes, and they pick up how invested you are in it. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone who’s a jobsworth, going through the motions. But they look at me and go, ‘He’s putting his whole life into this, like it’s his last,’ and yeah, it’s the only way I know.”

Taking that ‘it could be my last’ line, if these past few years taught us anything – and you could come up with many examples of people dear to you that we’ve lost – we can’t take anything for granted.

“Oh, no!”

You worked with the recently-departed Jeff Beck, and we lost Terry Hall of The Specials, Fun Boy 3, and The Colour Field fame before Christmas, plus your friend Maxi Jazz, from Faithless. On an even more personal basis, we lost your brother Stephen (also part of his band and his manager) just before the pandemic kicked in.

“Actually, his funeral was the last thing they allowed before lockdown. So he got out at a good time – he didn’t know anything about Covid. But, yeah, it just shows you can’t take anything for granted. And it may be depressing to people, but it’s a fact that we all have to die at some point, so you have to make sure much as you can that you’ve lived. Other people, I don’t know what they’re waiting for. If someone said to you the world was going to end tomorrow, you’d start living, you know.

“That’s my attitude to life. While I’ve got the gift of life – and not a lot of people have – I’m going to use it as much as I can. Of course, I’m human, so there are days where I might feel down or a bit sorry for myself. But the man in the voice says, ‘Hello, this is reality.’

“And my perspective has really changed since my brother passed and, yeah, Maxi and Jeff Beck – even though he’s from a different generation, I saw him only a few years ago, and he looked so well. Again, he’s a guy that at every gig gave 100%. He wasn’t at all jaded by the music industry. It was like it was his first gig, and he loved it.”

Only last week, I spoke to Graham Gouldman, who gifted Jeff Beck one of his early solo hits, arguably for me his finest single, 1967’s ‘Tallyman’.

“Graham Gouldman? Ah, we’ve worked together too.”  

That doesn’t surprise me, Andrew’s CV including so many high-profile collaborations down the years, a recent example being UK queen of soul Beverley Knight, who duets on the typically soulful ‘What We Had’, from the Twice in a Lifetime LP.

“We often bumped into each other on the gigging circuit, played on some of the same festival stages, and always said, ‘Yeah, let’s do something.’ It was always being said, but not happening, and then I came up with this song and said, ‘That’s it, it’s got to be a duet and she’s got to do the female part.’ I played it to her, she just jumped at it, got to the studio and really nailed it, and I’ve got a lot of respect for her as a singer. And her work ethic – she’s doesn’t mess around. She’s definitely so driven, and that’s one of the reasons she’s had that longevity.”

On this tour, in light of that tie-in with the Music Venue Trust, supporting grassroots venues after a troubled few years – somewhat exacerbated by the pandemic, no doubt – is this you paying your dues to your music past?

“Yeah. I’ve played loads of venues of every different shape and size, and definitely appreciate all that. And I’m a musician first and foremost, and there’s loads of great talent out there that wants to be heard – they want a gig on the circuit. Not everyone can do the O2s or Wembley. There’s so much talent, and it’s a big part of the music culture in this country, so strong and such a big part of the history of the UK, with these venues a big part of that. Also for the punters, so people have got venues on their high street and can actually go and see amazing talent. If that was to go, then it becomes very sterilised, because there’s only going to be a few names that can actually play the bigger venues. So it’s very important.”

Well, we’ve all seen a dearth of tribute acts in the last decade or so, so it’s so good to see artists perform their own material out there. We need that creativity.

“We do. We need the artists, you know, they’re still being born everywhere, they need an outlet, and even when you turn on the radio, there’s stuff you will never hear unless you go to these venues. I’ve been to some of the smaller venues and heard people and gone, ‘Wow!’ I wouldn’t have known about this person ever, unless my mate invited me here. It’s important, and sometimes people make the wrong assumption that if they’re not at big venues, they can’t be that good. That’s not always how it works, and it’s just keeping that live music scene going. It’s not just about people doing social media, you know. And nowadays, it’s not about record sales as much as it used to be when I started out. It’s about gigs.”

That’s kind of flipped on its head, hasn’t it.

“Yes, and it’s so important.”

Have you tried totting up the amount of live shows you’ve done down the years? Do you keep a diary with notes to remind you of each location and venue?

“Oh my God, I really should have, but I haven’t. I’ve played I don’t know how many venues in the UK alone. It’s just ridiculous. Even this next few months, because I’m doing my tour then I’m straight into rehearsals with Mike {Rutherford} and doing the Mike + the Mechanics tour, I’ll be doing, I don’t know how many, 40 dates, maybe?”

Well, on this tour alone it’s 21 days over barely six weeks, and then you’ve got those 30-plus UK Mechanics dates for starters.

“Yeah, it’s going to be really intense. I’ll probably need a holiday after all that.”

You use the word ‘intimate’ when you’re talking about gigs and the Music Venue Trust project. And I get the impression that however big the places you play, you’ll still fix on that one person in the crowd.

“Yeah, I do. When I’m singing, I feel like I’m singing to someone, because you are sort of baring your soul. And I like the fact that when I go to gigs and hear people, it feels real, it feels like if they’re singing a song about an emotive subject, that there’s investment in that way. It gets harder when you start playing bigger venues. If you’re playing an arena or a stadium, it often becomes also about the lights and the screens, and you find you have to projects, put your arms out and be, you know, a performer in that way. And it’s tougher to give it that. I’ve played some big venues, gone off the stage and felt it was a was all adrenalin. But when you play the smaller venues, you fill that feedback instantly from the people you’re singing to.”

Twice in a Lifetime quite rightly got lots of plaudits. Is there a new LP on its way?

“Well, I’ve started to write some new material. I can’t say when I’ll have an album out. I’m not sure if it will be this year, with all the live stuff I’m doing. But there’s definitely another album in the making.”

And is the contacts book open? We mentioned Beverley Knight, and I guess there will be moments when you get the feeling you need someone or other guesting on this one too.

“Well, I haven’t got to that point, because I like to get enough tracks, so when I do ring these people and saying, ‘Check this out,’ I know they’re going to get blown away. That’s how I start, rather than go, ‘Erm, would you sing on my album?’ Especially if it’s someone who’s really busy, so you need to go there with your gun fully loaded!”

Last time I spoke to you was August 2017. A lot’s happened since, from the horrors of Brexit all the way through the pandemic to the current cost of living crisis and wall-to-wall public services’ strikes. And then there were those personal moments that also impacted on you. But has it at least been a productive period, working through the bad as well as the good times, like so many of us?

“It has been productive. It’s been quite intense, actually, with a lot happening … which I’m grateful for, you know. And I did the right thing, I kept my foot on the gas – I could have just gone, ‘Ah, I can’t be arsed with this.’ I just felt I needed to keep focused and keep going forwards. And from 2017 to today, the time has gone so fast, and I’m thinking that with the next album I make, there’s a lot to draw from, material-wise.

“Yeah, it’s been intense!” And those are the things that inspire writers – the more intense experiences.”

And putting you on the spot, of all the artists you’ve performed with or written songs for, who do you think you learned most from, or who gave you the biggest thrill to be up there with?

“Well, those are two different things, but I’ve learned a lot from Mike {Rutherford}, on a lot of levels – the way he puts songs together or ideas, and his fearlessness. I mean, Mike doesn’t try to sort of please anyone. He just does what he does. It doesn’t always work, but he takes those risks. And I think if you go through life and not take risks, you’re always going to be in the middle somewhere.”

Hearing yourself say that, does that surprise you? Putting yourself back in the mind of the late ‘70s or early 80s you, thinking you’re going to be talking in those terms of inspiration about a guitar-playing member of Genesis?

“Ha! Completely. I didn’t grow up with Genesis, and apart from the commercial side – which a lot of the fans say that’s not the real Genesis – I didn’t know them. And even now I’ve been to the last set of gigs, and it’s like a revelation to me, you know. And it’s about freedom, an artistic freedom of expression. They’re just doing what they’re doing, and somehow it just works. Because you have to trust in the whole process, I guess. Even though you might think this is only going to appeal to me because it’s so out there.

“You can be surprised. I mean, some of the times I wrote over the years, I really thought, ‘This is a bit indulgent. It’s about something that’s very close to me, and it’s not really going to resonate.’ But people go, ‘Oh, that song!’ And I’ll think, ‘Wow, I would never have thought!’  So you’ve got to stick your neck out there, and I think Mike has always been a reminder about that. And I appreciate that he turned up on the scene when he did.”

I guess there’s a great example in that personal aspect that resonates with people, in the Mechanics’ biggest hit, ‘The Living Years’. That must have surprised him, how much it meant to strangers.

“Well, even Mike, when that was being written – because he didn’t write most of the lyrics, that was B.A. Robertson – it had the word die in there, and you know, the rule is, you don’t put that in a pop song. But there’s ‘Spirit in the Sky’, and a few songs. But he didn’t know how people were going to take it. And to his surprise, not only did they take to it a little, but lots of people related to that. And it’s not something we talk about a lot, in society, but I think we need to talk about it more, sort of demystify it, take the dark fear out of that. We’ve got this idea that it’s something and actually it’s … there was a comedian on the radio the other day, Zoe Ball was interviewing him and said, ‘I’m gonna play this song, but it was from before you were born.’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, I was dead then!’ And yeah, we’ve all kind of been dead before. Wherever that is that we go to, we’ve come from that. We didn’t exist as what we know we are now. So it’s not that bad, we’ve done it before.”

And who’s in the Roachford band this time on tour?

“Well, this band is Chris Moorhead, who I co-wrote some of the songs with, like ‘Love Remedy’. And my brother introduced me to him. And then there’s Luke {Naimi}, who’s been playing drums for me for a few years now, and David Levy’s been playing bass with me for a while.”

Incidentally, David also features with Paul Young‘s Los Pacaminos. And it seems Andrew’s got a good vibe together with his band.

“Oh yeah, and do you know what, it’s just got an energy about it, because they are invested in it. You don’t want people just playing because they played the songs before. They’re completely … right in it, as I am. I remember going to a Stevie Wonder gig, thinking, ‘How many times has he played ‘Superstition’? But you can hear he plays it like it was the first time, and I get that.”

Last time we spoke, we got on to our mutual love for Al Green and his records for the Hi label with Willie Mitchell, and you’ve clearly got that affinity with all that. In fact, there’s a vibe of all that on ‘Too Much to Lose’ on that last LP.

“Well, I’m planning this year after touring to go out to Nashville, and I want to head out to Memphis. Actually, Beverley Knight did some stuff out there, recording at Al Green’s family studio, and she kept saying to me, ‘Andrew, of all people, you should be going there.’ So that’s gonna happen this year, and I’ll pop down to the church that Al Green preaches out, and hopefully he’ll be around. I’d love to really connect with him. I mean, who wouldn’t? But I just feel there’s an affinity there. We would understand each other. And appreciate. So yeah, who knows what’s going to come from that!”

Well, next time we speak, it could be a case of me asking you to talk me through the recording of Roachy in Memphis.

“Exactly! So yeah, I’m looking forward to that.”

And on a personal note, there was also the awarding of your MBE for services to music since we last spoke. A proud moment?

“Oh man, that moment is etched in my memory. I’ll never forget it. We were driving into Buckingham Palace in the morning, my brother was driving, and it was beautiful blue skies, like we were in the Mediterranean or something, even though it was cold. And as the gate opened, ‘Love Remedy’, one of my songs, came on the radio. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

“Sadly, my brother was gone within weeks of that, but it was just that moment. It meant a lot, and it means a lot on a lot of levels. I may have said to you last time, obviously I don’t make music for awards …”

I imagine so, and I still have that vision of you hiding behind a bank of keyboards, as it was in the early days until you were persuaded to lose them one by one and show us your face.

“Exactly, that was me, and it still is me to an extent. Because it’s about music for me. The music is bigger than me, and I feel sort of like a servant to music. Obviously, I understand the whole fame thing. But when you’ve been through it, you don’t need it. Some people need it, but others don’t need that kind of hero worship, they just want to make the best music that actually resonates with people in the deepest way. And that makes me happy.”

And having mentioned Al Green and Stevie Wonder, are you still discovering music from the past and thinking, ‘How did I miss out on this?

“Always, and even with artists I know really well, I’ll find a track and think, ‘Where did this come from?’ And you just learn. That’s what I’m like, I’m a sponge. You hear something and, ‘What was that?’ And you try to sort of assimilate it, make it part of what you do, if you can. I tend to listen to the greats a lot, and people like Sam Cooke, they’re on another planet. I don’t know how they did it.”

He recorded so much too, in such a short space of time.

“Yeah. Living in the studio. Sam Cooke, Otis Redding … I mean, how much material did that guy have? He died at 27. It’s crazy.”

And just to finish off – I best let you go because you need to save your voice, or I’ll be in trouble for ending the tour before it’s even opened – it’s 35 years this June since ‘Cuddly Toy’s initial release, although it was this time the following year when it properly charted. Looking back at the subsequent Top of the Pops appearances and other TV performances playing that breakthrough hit, do you still recognise that fella fronting the band back then?

“Ha! Erm … not really … In some ways I do, but I’m a lot older now and I’ve been through the journey. I think I was kind of half present and half not. I think that’s what I needed to be to make that music at that time. I could never write the way I wrote then, because I’m just not the same. If you could be the person that you are now and go back then, it would be a completely different story. But what a lovely journey it’s been, and I feel blessed so far. And when people talk about ‘Cuddly Toy’, I’m glad I wrote it. It’s done so many good things for me and made so many people happy, so what more can you want?”

It opened the door, for certain

“Big time!”

And with that, I let him go, sensing a coughing episode, not wanting to be the interviewer responsible for dragging him back to square one on his road to recovery.

For this website’s August 2017 feature/interview with Andrew Roachford, head here.

Special guest at the forthcoming 21-date An Evening With Roachford tour is Acantha Lang, born and raised in New Orleans, and currently building a name for herself on the UK circuit since moving to London. Also writing for Grammy-nominated Robert Randolph & The Family Band. Acantha’s debut EP, Sugar Woman was selected by Soul Tracks as their featured album of the month on its release and earned her a New Artist of the Year award at 2021’s Soul Tracks Readers’ Choice Awards. Debut single, ‘He Said/She Said’ gained praise from Craig Charles (BBC 6 Music Funk & Soul Show), who described Acantha as, ‘brilliant … an independent artist destined for world domination’ in a recent interview for Blues & Soul Magazine. Her music has gained more than one million streams and been playlisted on top Spotify playlists, including its Best Retro Songs of 2021 playlist. Acantha was also accepted into the Recording Academy’s (Grammy) 2022 member class, with her single, ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ on the first round ballots in three categories at the 65th Grammy Awards nominations.

An Evening With Roachford dates: 15th February – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms; 17th February – Wigan, The Old Courts; 24th February – Holmfirth, Picturedrome; 25th February – Stockton-on-Tees, ARC; 26th February – Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn; 1st March – Blackburn, King George’s Hall; 2nd March – Bury, The Met; 3rd March – Carlisle, Old Fire Station; 4th March – Sunderland, Fire Station; 9th March – Cambridge, The Junction; 10th March – Stroud, The Subs Rooms; 11th March – East Sussex, Trading Boundaries; 15th March – Basingstoke, The Haymarket; 16th March – Coventry, HMV Empire; 17th March – Milton Keynes, The Stables; 18th March – Margate,  Olby’s Creative Hub; 23rd March – Eastleigh, Concorde Club; 24th March – Cardiff, The Globe; 25th March – Buckley, Tivoli; 29th March – Bury St Edmunds, The Apex; 30th March – Lincoln, The Drill. Tickets are on sale now, available at

The Music Venue Trust is a charitable organisation, founded in January 2014 to help protect, secure and improve UK music venues, and currently provides support to more than 900 venues, helping purchases freeholds, renting them back to operators at a fairer rate than previous landlords, with greater security and better understanding of the sector. Music fans and ethical investors can buy community shares in Music Venue Properties from £200 to £100,000 and receive 3% APR on investments. To the end of 2022, MVP raised £3.5m to buy freeholds for nine UK grassroots music venues. For more details head here.

And for Mike + The Mechanics’ UK and German tour details and ticket information, visit


About writewyattuk

A freelance writer and family man being swept along on a wave of advanced technology, but somehow clinging on to reality. It's only a matter of time ... A highly-motivated scribbler with a background in journalism, business and life itself. Away from the features, interviews and reviews you see here, I tackle novels, short stories, copywriting, ghost-writing, plus TV, radio and film scripts for adults and children. I'm also available for assignments and write/research for magazines, newspapers, press releases and webpages on a vast range of subjects. You can also follow me on Facebook via and on Twitter via @writewyattuk. Legally speaking, all content of this blog (unless otherwise stated) is the intellectual property of Malcolm Wyatt and may only be reproduced with permission.
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