One of the biggest bands of the 1980s are preparing to embark on their first tour for 40 years. Andrew White spoke to Nick Heyward and Les Nemes of Haircut 100.

In 1982, a schoolfriend of mine named Paul was given a brand new leather jacket.

He took a marker pen to it and wrote the words 'Haircut 100' on the back, before proudly donning it and parading round the grounds of the school in Newton Aycliffe we both attended.

"That's a great honour," says Nick Heyward, lead singer of the band which had a string of hits in the early 1980s after I tell him my anecdote.

"To have that effect on people is a dream come true. I personally feel completely honoured by that, it's one of the big reasons for doing what we do."

Generous words, but it's little consolation to Paul, who got a fearful telling off from his mother for defacing his new jacket.

I tell the story to Nick and the band's bassist Les Nemes to illustrate just how big Haircut 100 were at the time.

Not that they need telling.

Pelican West, the band's platinum selling debut studio album, spawned massive hit singles Love Plus One, Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) and Fantastic Day and is still regarded as a classic today.

The Northern Echo: Haircut 100 are to perform in Newcastle next week as part of their first tour for 40 years

Given that, it seems barely credible that it has taken 40 years for the band to get back on the road for their first tour since those heady days.

Haircut 100% Live is a 15 date UK tour throughout October and November. The second date of the tour will be at NX Newcastle next Thursday.

Nick left the band in 1983, amid rising tensions, and embarked on a solo career. Although Haircut 100 carried on with new material, the band split up shortly afterwards.

They reformed for a Bands Reunited show 20 years later and there have been sporadic shows ever since. But the idea of a full-blown tour is a recent one.

Les explains that the catalyst was when Demon Records, which specialises in box sets and reissues, came up with the idea of a 40th anniversary celebration edition of Pelican West.

"Everyone thought it was a great idea," says Les. 

"Over the following months we were all involved in compiling that and getting it together. It seemed like a good idea to pair it with a live gig.

"We decided we'd give it a go at Shepherd's Bush Empire - and it sold out in a couple of hours.

"From there, we got other invitations. We didn't approach anyone, everyone came to us. It was a strange phenomenon. The next logical step was a tour."

After a short series of discussions, the band had been taken on by a management company and were ready to go, a process described by Nick as "fortunate and almost magical".

It mirrors the early evolution of the band, which Nick describes as "a series of happy accidents".

"It was a sense of making it happen on the spur of the moment, going with it and having the passion for music and the dream of being a band. It was our dream, we lived and breathed it," he says. 

That passion for music hasn't left the band members as they look forward to the latest chapter in their story.

The members have different musical tastes - Les says he's still "stuck in the 70s" with an enduring fondness for artists like Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell.

Nick is still seeking out new artists via social media and online radio stations. He cites the "brilliant and beautiful" voice of Kamasi Washington, particularly on the track 'Will You Sing' as someone he has recently discovered.

Both Nick and Les, who chat to each other just like old friends should throughout the interview, agree it was these different and eclectic musical tastes which made Haircut 100 the band it was - and still is - as they look to recreate the excitment and success of the recent Shepherds Bush Empire gig which has so energised them

"It's exciting, that's where the magic happens," says Nick.

Fans in Newcastle can expect to hear a slice of nostalgia with tracks from Pelican West, plus a couple of songs from their second albun - felt by Les to be much underrated - as well as some new music.

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It's an unexpected, but thrilling extension of the Haircut 100 story.

"I came to Spain for a very quiet and slow life and suddenly I'm getting dragged back to the UK," says Les. 

"But of course, I'm looking forward to it. We're just thinking about enjoying the moment."

I reckon Paul would too.

  • Haircut 100 will be playing NX Newcastle on October 12 Thursday, October 12. Tickets available by visiting