“I wanted to be XTC or Talking Heads… the Haircut One Hundred album had Genesis at its heart, and Chris Squire got me into bass”: Nick Heyward’s passion for prog

Nick Heyward and Genesis
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the early 80s Haircut One Hundred scored four top 10 hits - Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl), Love Plus One, Nobody's Fool and Fantastic Day. In 2018 band leader Nick Heyward – a solo artist for over 30 years – explained how everything he’d done musically had been powered by prog.

“Prog set me up for life. Like the literary classics, prog bands set the foundation for modern music. This all filtered to me from my brother’s bedroom. Pete had a purple room filled with amplifiers and incense.

We lived in Beckenham and me and my mate Austin and I were into Bolan and Rory Gallagher. I have strong memories of bunking into gigs at Crystal Palace Park and Austin would always get us backstage.

One time Gryphon had just finished and I heard Breathe coming out of the speakers. There was this connection with the sounds coming from Pete’s room and a moment where I went, ‘Wow, this is music.’

The first Genesis song that got me was I Know What I Like In Your Wardrobe. Then I got into A Trick Of The Tail, especially Entangled and Ripples. I played it over and over – it was an intro to conceptual records and it was like reading a book. This wasn’t the music I knew from my parents – The Carpenters or jazz.

I wasn’t playing an instrument yet and this new music looked and sounded impossible. Pete could play; he taught me D major. I took that and worked on it, coming up with D, C and G. That’s how I wrote Fantastic Day.

I hoped to meet Mike Rutherford… I met Francis Rossi from Status Quo instead!

I wanted to be XTC or Talking Heads but when I wrote the Haircut One Hundred album Pelican West, it had Genesis at its heart – and Chris Squire’s Fish Out Of Water is how I got into bass.

In the studio, I didn’t have the musical ability for prog; but I’d like a song to start with a car sound effect, or with birdsong, and I always wanted to tell a story. That’s prog.

I never crossed paths with Genesis but Mike & The Mechanics played a festival bill I was on. I hoped to meet Mike Rutherford, so I stood by their equipment – and I met Francis Rossi from Status Quo instead!

Genesis are eternal and what they wrote became like a bible; open it up, everything rings true. You marvel and go,‘What gods wrote that?’

My new album is called Woodland Echoes, and the influence of prog is becoming more apparent. I’ll probably be full-on prog in a year, bursting out... like a Dance On A Volcano!”

Jo Kendall

Jo is a journalist, podcaster, event host and music industry lecturer with 23 years in music magazines since joining Kerrang! as office manager in 1999. But before that Jo had 10 years as a London-based gig promoter and DJ, also working in various vintage record shops and for the UK arm of the Sub Pop label as a warehouse and press assistant. Jo's had tea with Robert Fripp, touched Ian Anderson's favourite flute (!), asked Suzi Quatro what one wears under a leather catsuit, and invented several ridiculous editorial ideas such as the regular celebrity cooking column for Prog, Supper's Ready. After being Deputy Editor for Prog for five years and Managing Editor of Classic Rock for three, Jo is now Associate Editor of Prog, where she's been since its inception in 2009, and a regular contributor to Classic Rock. She continues to spread the experimental and psychedelic music-based word amid unsuspecting students at BIMM Institute London, hoping to inspire the next gen of rock, metal, prog and indie creators and appreciators.