Crofts looking forward to happy homecoming with The Songbook Collective

BACK IN TOWN - Andy Crofts returns to Northampton this weekend with The Songbook Collective
BACK IN TOWN - Andy Crofts returns to Northampton this weekend with The Songbook Collective

Andy Crofts is a busy man - and that’s the way he likes it.

He’s the frontman with his own band The Moons, who have just returned from a playing a gig in Turin in Italy last weekend, and who will be going into the studio next month to record their fourth album.

He’s also the keyboard player with Paul Weller’s live band, spending large chunks of the past 12 months travelling the world as the former frontman of The Jam toured to promote his LP Saturns Pattern - an album on which Crofts played on every single track.

And he is now part of The Songbook Collective, a project that sees Weller’s band hit the road, without their boss, to showcase their own musical projects.

The Songbook Collective is made up of Crofts, fellow Northampton lad and fellow Moons member Ben Gordelier, Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Cradock, bass player, solo artist and DJ Andy Lewis and Steve Pilgrim, formerly of The Stands and Cast, who has now gone solo.

From Northampton but now based in Worthing, Crofts is hoping for a happy homecoming on Friday night when the Songbook Collective hits the Roadmender in town.

The band kicked off their UK tour at The Cavern in Liverpool on Thursday night, and after the Roadmender they will be heading off to Wigan, Bedford, the 100 Club in London, as well as Derby, Shoreham and Coventry.

And Crofts can’t wait to get cracking.

“I can’t wait to get out there and playing, because I get itchy feet if I am sat around at home too long. I start pacing up and down the room,” said Crofts, who went on to explain how The Songbook Collective came about.

“The idea slowly grew over a Paul Weller tour towards the end of the year,” he said.

“Steve Pilgrim and Steve Cradock were the two that were mainly chatting about it, and it grew from being a little idea into something more serious.

“I didn’t jump on board immediately because I didn’t know what was going on, but with Paul (Weller) taking time off because he’s working on a new album none of us want to sit around, so they said ‘do you want to go and play some music?’

“It started off as an idea and we thought we’d just do a gig and play some of our own songs, and mix it all up between us, but people started to show interest.

“The next thing we were booking another one, but obviously we can only do that when all five of us are free which is quite hard.”

Crofts has been part of Weller’s live band since 2008, which is around the same length of time as Lewis and Pilgrim, with Gordelier joining as a second drummer in 2012.

Cradock is the daddy of the group though, having been playing with Weller since the early-1990s, and Crofts says they have all become close pals as they have toured the world together, which has led to the formation of The Songbook Collective.

There is not going to be support act at the Roadmender on Friday, as in effect there are four different acts taking to the stage anyway.

So how will it work?

“The plan is we will take it in turns to share the centre mic,” said Crofts.

“For instance, I’ll get up to the centre mic, play some Moons songs, with Steve Cradock on guitar, Andy Lewis on bass, Ben Gordelier on drums and then Steve Pilgrim on acoustic guitar or something.

“Then Steve Cradock will go to centre mic, and I’ll maybe go on bass, with Andy Lewis going on keys. We will just mix it up like that, with sets from our own material.

“So for me, it will be a bunch of Moons songs adapted to that band, and then Cradock will so some of his solo stuff and perhaps a few OCS songs mixed in.

“Everybody has their own solo projects and that will be the beauty of it, we all get to mix and match what we do on the side.”

It certainly seems a pretty unusual set-up, and Crofts is hoping the off-the-cuff nature of it will work.

“Maybe back in the 60s and 70s this sort of thing might have happened when bands used to just get up on stage and jam together, but I can’t think of anything else like it,” he said.

“It is going to be something a little different, less organised and fun, and it should be good.”

Crofts is not only looking forward to getting out on stage and playing, he is also looking forward to returning to his home town, having relocated to Worthing from Northampton last year for family reasons.

And he’s looking forward to visiting one place in particular.

“I do miss Northampton, I really do,” said Crofts.

“When you live there for most of your life as I did, you start dreaming and thinking ‘oh, I wish I could get away’.

“But what I will says is, after getting away, Northampton is a really beautiful town and people shouldn’t take it for granted.

“I have travelled all over the world now, and I still cite Abington Park as my favourite park.

“I have seen a lot of nice places, and to say Abington Park is my favourite is saying something.”

The Songbook Collective play at the Roadmender in Northampton on Friday, April 22.

Doors open at 8pm. Tickets cost £16 in advance and are via seetickets, the venue and from Spiral Archive Records. Visit @PWbandofficial on Twitter.