Ordinary blokes spurred on by their dull day jobs

The Lancashire Hotpots
The Lancashire Hotpots
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“I work in the logistics department at a company that makes shiny bits that go on planes and cars”.

Which isn’t exactly a sentence you expect from a fella whose band has made seven albums in as many years and is playing venues like Blackpool’s Grand Theatre and The Lowry in Salford next week.

But then again Bernard Thresher isn’t your average lead singer, and The Lancashire Hotpots are not your 
average band.

For the uninitiated, the Hotpots are five blokes who dress up in northern clobber – flat caps, waistcoats, corduroys – and sing funny songs about eating chips and the lack of parking for shopmobility scooters.

Their aim is to have a good time and make people laugh - something they’ve done since 2006 – which is in stark contrast to the day job.

“I have to admit what I do isn’t tremendously exciting – it’ll never make a song – but it puts food in the cat’s mouth,” said Bernard.

“All the band have full-time jobs. We like to stay in real world Monday to Friday, then Friday teatime get ourselves a chippy tea, hit the road for the weekend and have a laugh.

“It also means that after six or seven years we’re still together. If we’d gone full time we’d have fallen out by now.”

All the band (Bernard, Dickie Ticker, Bob Wriggles, Billy McCartney, and Kenny Body – I sense they might not be their real names) were in different groups pre-Hotpots. Bernard and Bob were in a rock band which won a national Battle of the Bands comp and £6,000 worth of gear. “Then we bought a load of electronic gear and started doing dance music and DJ-ing at raves,” added Bernard. “That was great for three or four years but we got a bit tired and just sort of fell into the Hotpots.

“I think we’d spent a lot of time working so hard trying to make credible music that it was just nice to sit down, have a little bit of a giggle, play C, F and G and bring a smile to our faces. It was only because people started watching some stuff we put on Myspace that we even did a gig – and we’ve not stopped since.”

It hasn’t all been plain sailing. In 2009 they almost packed in when original member Willie Eckerslike took his own life amid problems in his personal life. “It wasn’t easy for anyone,” said Bernard. “ Forget about the band really, it was horrific for all his family and friends.

“Of course we thought about packing in and it was only the reaction of fans again that made us continue. We pretty much asked ‘do you want us to carry on?’ and it was a resounding yes. You can’t be letting people down and Willie wouldn’t have wanted us to stop, so we cracked on.”

That they did and Crust For Life, released on Monday, is album number seven. It could be the last though, at least for a while. As any songwriter will tell you, it’s difficult to write one funny song – let alone keep churning out whole albums worth.

“You can knock a song out, something melodic saying ‘I love you’ and people can go ‘that’s lovely, I’m going to cry, I’ll have that on my wedding day’. But to actually make somebody laugh is tremendously difficult,” explained Bernard.

“With this seventh album it’s like we’ve done seven series of a sitcom and how long can you keep people laughing for? We’re thankful we seem to have done it for this long.

“But we don’t want it to get watered down, for the new stuff to be less punchy than the old songs, so now we’ve decided to have a little rest and not put ourselves under any pressure next year.

“We’ll tour this album and who knows, if people are still keen a few years down the line, then we might knock another one out.”

Bernard declares himself very happy with the new record and if the song In The North is anything to go by (sample line: ‘In the north we likes chips, pudding and peas; in the north we’re not scared of heart disease’), it should be decent.

They come to Blackpool and the Grand on Friday week (July 5) – “we spend a lot of time in dirty sweaty clubs so it will be nice to get in a theatre and have a load of bulbs around our mirrors” – and if you’re a Hotpots virgin, don’t be surprised to see fellow audience members get in the spirit of things.

“It’s great when loads of people turn up for gigs dressed in flat caps and join in the fun,” added Bernard.

“I think we’re at a point where people don’t want to go out and watch four blokes dressed in black with stupid haircuts being dead miserable. People want to be a bit silly. They pay their money, leave their inhibitions at the door, put a flat cap on – and if we are dressed the same, they don’t feel so daft.”

If you fancy a night of northern eccentricity, this is definitely for you. Tickets are priced £14 and available from www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or the box office on (01253) 743339.