THERE seems to be some kind of parity going on with Jon Windle’s records – each time he makes a solo album his wife gets pregnant.
No wonder the Sheffield musician and label boss is weighing up having the snip if his second solo record Sober Minds, out this week, does well.
“I try to make sure Mel can’t drink too much at our album launches and that’s the way to do it,” laughs the former Little Man Tate singer ahead of just such a hometown event tomorrow at Queens Social Club.
“The idea was to get the album out and have another baby – and we thought the latter would take ages.”
While getting used to being a first time dad to Elijah, Jon was promoting debut record Step Out The Man, setting up his Tiny Teeth Records label and signing acts such as See Emily Play. But the momentum was there for a second album – and baby two is due in September.
“I don’t like to hang around. I don’t know what’ll happen about doing a third album because life changes a lot. I’m enjoying doing the label and starting to put nights on with different bands.
“And, do you know, I’ve been doing this solo thing almost as long as I was doing LMT.”
Step Out suited his post-band era. The new one leaps on again in style, songs such as opener Saturday Night (Seems So Far Away This Morning) and Just Love Me among some of Jon’s strongest songs thus far, while the rest suit the LMT vibe.
“People have grown with me, like a musical Adrian Mole, and I think this will appeal to LMT fans, even though it’s different, more so than the first,” says Jon, who gave the record a theme and a 1950s-60s feel.
“Sober Minds was the first song, leftover from the first album, and that set the tone. There’s a feel of all the different scenarios of a big weekend. And there’s a B-52s vibe in the backing vocals. I’ve always been into that music. It’s a modern album, but we’ve tried to use sounds and guitars and riffs, backing vocals that have got an ear on that era. There’s a lot of doo-wopping.”
Now 30, Jon says his storytelling fuel has also changed, but he still aims for tales listeners can relate to, just as LMT’s romping debut About What You Know did in the mid-noughties.
“Some of it is recalling stuff, some just using my imagination.
“When you get to 30 it’s harder to look back. You feel strange writing from the point of view of a young lad, whereas writing at first in LMT I was 22 and it was easier to recall being 17.
“Now it would sound weird and I might end up getting locked up; now I’m looking back to mid 20s.
“So when there’s a girl doing the walk of shame in a song I need a twist to the reason why. The girl goes out and meets the man of her dreams, he takes her back to his house and kicks her out about four in the morning...because his boyfriend’s coming home.
“There’s some serious stuff on Sober Minds and we’re trying to throw things in you wouldn’t expect.
“There’s always stuff people can relate to, like getting it on with an ex.
“Then there’s a story called the Legend Of The Boy With The Ginger Hair, about hanging around spying on this woman when he was younger and realising she had a lot of male visitors.
“One of my mates got in and got the conquest... this amazing woman with all this experience and the little guy with the ginger hair went in and ended up pulling her.
“When you’re in the pub or something and you’re having a chat with your mates, imagine the number of times you say ‘Do you remember when...?
“I’ve got one mate who remembers everything and it’s always slightly changed and a little bit better than how I remember it.
“Sometimes you have to not let the truth get in the way of things.
“But being in your 30s throws up different things, so there’s no point me trying to be a songwriter that I’m not, trying to be too deep and meaningful. It would be fraudulent. This is me doing what I’m good at, which is taking the mickey out of myself to an extent.”
That sense of realism stretches to Jon’s expectations for Sober Minds, having now acquired a decade of experience of the music business.
“My music is something I do for fun. If this didn’t come out and I couldn’t gig it wouldn’t mean I’d lose my house. I’ve had to work to get other things going so I’ve got fallbacks.
“These songs aren’t going to get played on Radio 1 and we haven’t taken on radio pluggers or PR. All we’ve done is put an album together and get it out there.
“We were going to put a budget behind it, but then we thought ‘Is it cool enough to be okayed by the people who decide who is cool and who is not?’ Let’s get it to the people who want to hear it.
“I believe in my music but I also know how the industry works and I’m not on the radar of the people whose radar you need to be on to make it massive.
“I know my limitations. To really get what you want the first thing you need is lots of coin and lots of contacts.
“We want to get the label the contacts and get the people on the label hooked up. That’s where a lot of the hard work is. I won’t be getting number ones but it’s not to say…
“I know what sort of budgets and teams were behind LMT, and what’s behind my stuff, and it’s completely different.
“That’s what gets bands so down around a local scene; they sometimes think they deserve something. But it’s so hard, no matter how good you are, it’s one of those industries where it doesn’t matter how hard you work. In most jobs you’ll get something, but in this....
“I’m not the best musician in the world or going to change music. These are just songs that I like, that are catchy, and it’s fun playing them live.”