Anyone visiting a city music festival or two this summer is likely to come across the name Andrew Cushin somewhere although likely in fairly small print at the bottom of the promo ad.
As next year this name is destined to rise in size and placement, I totally recommend you go and check this young Newcastle dude out while he’s within touching distance on a stage. My prediction is that it won’t be too long before Andrew Cushin becomes a distant dot and a figure on a screen for most live performances.
After seeing Andrew Cushin support the Lathums live at the Brudenell and completely loving the gig, I thought my beloved would also really enjoy his blend of almost folkish personal stories and his pure strong vocals. So it was just a week later I was off to my second home, The Parish, to reacquaint myself to Andrew’s heartfelt personal and raw lyrics and his joking insights between songs.
As in Leeds, Andrew won over plenty of new followers this evening.
During the set, the emotional tingle of Andrew Cushin’s song 4.5% hit home with me the most; the impact of alcohol on a man and his young son. Standing and listening to the story unfold with a pint of Gamma Ray in my hand felt just plain unclean. Cushin clearly has a huge attachment to family and the profound regret over a father who was unable to get through his troubles casts a huge shadow.
Track Where’s My Family Gone ended the 30 minute slot and is a lament to a fractured home. Emotions are seared into his music; Cushin sings “The only friend I have is here, he’s built with strings and listening ears”.
Elsewhere in the set, I spotted a great Jake Bugg cover On My One. The Bugg reference is almost irresistible as both artists describe a hard childhood in a solo singer songwriter format. Cushin’s vocals are clearer and richer, as much as I admire Bugg’s style.
Song For The Strugglers is another firm favourite and feels like a reimagining of a folk standard to the point where I checked if there was actually an older original version. Nope it’s another one of Andrew Cushin’s originals.
While I describe the sad in Andrew Cushin’s music, don’t go thinking that the Cushin live set is a depress sess, actually his set banter and the positive in the songs, lifts the 30 minutes far away from any kind of “woe is me” mood and marks Cushin out as a strong survivor with a regret for missing how it could have been, rather than be a despondent victim of circumstance. Andrew even laughed on stage at his car crash of a sound check where he misplaced where he was in the song. A clip later appeared on social media.
The gig for me was a hopeful, level and positive exploration of the human condition that unfolded before my eyes. A friend at the gig commented that Andrew Cushin was what Gerry Cinnamon should be but isn’t. I appreciated the observation.
I love that music reviewing sometimes gives me the excuse to snatch a precious 15 minutes of someone’s time, and so it was that I got lucky enough to chat with Andrew with a set of somewhat random questions to tease out a little more about him and how he is getting along in the music world. Here goes…
What’s your plans for sharing a few of your tunes?
My first two singles are coming out through AWAL records. We are aiming for the first track, It’s Gonna Get Better to be released mid-February with a second, Waiting For The Rain in April and then hopefully an EP. AWAL have pushed it massively to make sure those tunes get on Spotify, You Tube and such like. I’m hoping they will take off massively but I’ve just got to see how people take them.
I worked with Sean Genocky at Black Dog Studios in Surrey on both these tracks and it was phenomenal to hear what he’s done. The record label have been great, and I’ve been working with them on backdrops and different single covers.
I would love after the two singles to release a couple of tracks on vinyl. People coming to the merch stall are saying they would like to buy vinyl and they want some music to take away so I’d like to do that.
I always feel a bit sorry for a solo artist as perhaps they don’t have the comradery of a band; is it lonely being on tour on your own?
Without wishing to swear too much, I usually find some fu*ker I can take the p1ss out of at a gig (and its usually the manager), but my manager Leigh has done a lot of the driving on the recent tour across England and into Wales a bit and so he is often around too.
To be honest while I like touring with someone, I’m not sure I could be in a band. I’d get too judgemental if one of the band was playing one of the songs wrong, or if the guitarist wanted to rock up one of the more sentimental tracks I’ve written. I’d end up offended by that. As it is if I play the songs and I fu*k up then I’ve only got myself to blame.
Your songs are so personal did you have any difficulty in sharing them?
When I’m playing outside of Newcastle I never have any qualms or concerns about playing the more personal stuff but it depends on the audience. I’m more cautious in Newcastle as there may be people in the audience who know me or my family and our personal background and I wouldn’t want them to get upset and end up crying over the situation or for me.
Last week at Leeds when I played Four and a Half Percent about my dad, there was a lad at the front he was bawling his eyes out at the end of it. I’m not wanting to sound like Billy Big B0llocks but I’m getting to realise the songs are powerful and are really impacting on some people. I really love how my words can resonate so strongly with some people.
At the moment you are man and acoustic guitar. Do you ever intend getting a band together?
I’ve always thought that once the gigs start getting too big for just me then I’d start to get a band together. Who knows I might spend my life playing in gigs of 150-200 people but if it gets bigger, and I’d love it to, and it gets to a thousand people and it sounds a bit thin then I’d get a band.
I know people; a lead guitar, drums and bass guitar and I know they wouldn’t just go off and do a guitar solo for 10 minutes. If I had a band they would have to be aiding me rather than us just being all together. It’s because I very much see myself as a solo artist.
I don’t see myself going further than bass, guitar and drums at this stage. If you put too much in it gets a bit too busy and takes away from the vocals too much.
Is there a gig coming up that you are particularly excited about?
I’m really looking forward to my first headline gig back in Newcastle at The Cluny that’s 350 people and it sold out in six or seven days so that was just brilliant. I’m also looking forward to sharing the stage with the likes of Gerry Cinnamon at This is Tomorrow and even better that’s just a few minutes drive away rather than the two and a half hours to Huddersfield! The Great Escape Festival too and I have Boardmasters and Victorious Festival to look forward to as well.
To end our chat I’ll ask my killer question to help us really get to the heart of an artist and to discover what really makes them tick:
You get invited onto Sunday Brunch and are asked to prepare your signature dish – so what’s cooking?
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t do any of the cooking so I’d have to order a KFC or something. If I was forced to cook I’m quite good at sirloin steaks, eggs and that kind of carry on. You will never find me cooking for anyone else.
On the basis of the interview I have to conclude Andrew Cushin has made the right career move. He’s clearly bursting to share what’s inside (I understand in total there are more than 50 original songs in the songbook) and has the voice and stage persona to deliver. Just don’t expect him to cook lunch.