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Darren Hayman

12 Astronauts

    Always perfectly capturing the zeitgeist, Darren Hayman releases his 18th solo album, 12 Astronauts, on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing 12 men have walked on the moon, and 12 Astronauts includes a song for each of them, from Neil Armstrong to Harrison Schmitt and Gene Cernan (the Apollo 17 astronauts who quibble about who was the last man on the moon, was it the last person to set foot on the moon (Schmitt) or the last person to take his foot off the moon (Cernan)?). Darren has always had an interest in space travel since 1977 when he saw Star Wars.

    Back in 2001 Hefner (Darren Hayman’s previous band) released a single called Alan Bean about the 4th man on the moon (an all new version is included on 12 Astronauts). In 2011 he contributed songs and pictures to Vostok 5, a London exhibition (and compilation album) about people and animals in space (he has also illustrated the cover of 12 Astronauts). In March 2014, as part of a year-long residency at Dalston’s Vortex, he played a set of his space-related songs supported by Robin Ince (this included the live debut of a number of tracks from 12 Astronauts).

    His record label, ‘Belka’, is named for one of the first two dogs to go into earth orbit and return alive, so it should come as no surprise that the 12 Astronauts were in the back of his mind while he researched, wrote and recorded his classics about Thankful Villages, the Essex Witch Trials, Lidos, William Morris and British seaside resorts. The songs are works of historical fiction. Although Darren researched heavily he is essentially imagining himself as each astronaut and singing in the first person. The songs are not all set during the Apollo missions. Buzz Aldrin battles with his demons and fights for his marriage. Pete Conrad sympathises with his partner’s fear of an accident in flight. David Scott wonders what happened to his bodyguard on his press tour. Gene Cernan list every object he can think of that was left on the moon. Although the subject is big Darren has always written songs about small things and this album is no different. Darren collects together tiny moments from magnificent lives.' The album itself is curious in its genesis as Darren conceived and started the album back in 2008 and only recently came back to complete it. Some of the vocals are recorded 10 years apart.


    1. Spaceman No More (Neil Armstrong),
    2. Low Orbit (Buzz Aldrin),
    3. Timber Cove (Pete Conrad),
    4. Alan Bean (Alan Bean),
    5. Don't Clip My Wings (Alan Sheppard),
    6. Hard Disk In The Sky (Edgar Mitchell),
    7. Major Sunday (David Scott),
    8. Genesis Rock (James Irwin),
    9. 100% Oxygen (John Young),
    10. Duke's Dream (Charles Duke),
    11. It's Geology (Harrison Schmitt),
    12. Things We Left Behind (Gene Cernan) 

    Darren Hayman

    Thankful Villages Vol. 2

      English songwriter and former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman continues his journey around the United Kingdom’s 54 Thankful Villages. A Thankful Village is a village where every soldier returned alive from World War One.

      An ongoing and hugely ambitious folk project, ‘Thankful Villages’ is only partially concerned with the war itself, moreover it is a celebration of British rural life. Darren pulls together first person interviews, folk tales and songs, field recordings and his own personal experiences to create a vast patchwork depicting community, history and legend.

      ‘Thankful Villages Vol. 2’ is something akin to an arcane musical radio documentary. The success of the first volume of ‘Thankful Villages’ has encouraged Hayman to go deeper into his subject. Themes of ‘the river’ and ‘death’ weave their way through these eighteen villages. A centuries old drowning is uncovered in ‘Arkholme’ on Bonfire Night. Dennis, the river man, tells us of a tragedy on the Weir in ‘Cromwell’. Judy Dyble, the original singer of folk legends Fairport Convention, joins Darren in the village of ‘Upper Slaughter’ and sings a lyric about the generations flowing like water through the village.

      Darren uncovers two World War II air disasters in ‘Woodend’ and ‘Wigsley’, where he records in the abandoned control tower at the airfield, the so-called cemetery of lights. Perhaps the most shocking and miraculous of tales is found in ‘Flixborough’ where in 1974 the local plastics factory exploded killing everyone inside but nobody in the lucky village. Derek and his son tell us the story of finding each other amongst shards of glass.

      However, glimpses of light shine through the darkness; a sunny day of wild swimming in ‘Tellisford’, a village fete with bell ringing in ‘East Norton’ and a tale of a grateful Belgian refugee in ‘Norton Le Clay’.


      Norton Le Clay
      East Norton
      Stretton En Le Field.
      Nether Kellet
      Upper Slaughter
      Coln Rogers

      Darren Hayman

      Thankful Villages Vol. 1

        English songwriter and ex-Hefner frontman Darren Hayman releases his enthralling and ambitious new album ‘Thankful Villages Vol. 1’ via Rivertones.

        A thankful village is a village in Britain where every soldier returned alive from World War I. Darren Hayman visited each of the 54 thankful villages and, focussing on village life, made a piece of music and a short film for each one. Some take the form of instrumentals inspired by the location, some are interviews with village residents set to music and others are new songs with lyrics or found local traditional songs.

        ‘Thankful Villages Vol. 1’ is the first (of three) volumes of the project and contains the first 18 villages that Darren visited during 2014/15. The pieces do not necessarily refer to the Great War, rather they portray the village and its communities at many points in history.


        St Michael, South Elmham
        Stoke Hammond
        Little Sodbury
        Rodney Stoke
        Holywell Lake
        Langton Herring

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