Hefner tonight. Fronted by singer/songwriter Darren Hayman, they were one of the forerunners of the Urban Folk movement which took up residence in the UK in the early 2000’s.
Although not known very well outside the UK, Hefner did have a following and a solid fanbase, including one very influential fan; John Peel. Peel was very supportive of the band, showcasing whatever new single they had out, booked them on sessions, and even, in this case, hosted a live concert from Liverpool, broadcast in October of 1999.
Sadly, the band were together for a relatively short period of time (short by todays standards), having been together from their 1995 inception to their breakup on December, 2001. They reunited for a one-off concert in 2005 as a memorial for John Peel, who died in October of 2004. After that, they have declined offers to reunite, with Darren Hayman saying he would only consent to reuniting if it was with the original members of the band. He has gone on the record repeatedly as being against bands reforming.
Members of the band have spun off into other directions, with Darren Hayman having a successful solo career as well as collaborating on a number of side-projects.
So, if you missed Hefner the first time around, or are just hearing about them now, this is the closest you’ll get to catching them live. Not a dynamic band by any stretch, their strength lay in Hayman’s songwriting abilities, which were biting, clever, sophisticated and razor sharp. During their brief lifespan, Hefner released 4 albums, 5 compilations and live albums, 6 eps and 14 singles – a prodigious output for a group who often referred to themselves as “Britain’s Largest small band”. It’s interesting when you consider that a short time after their demise, the interest in Urban Folk or New-Folk took off, with bands like Mumford and Sons capturing much of the limelight.
Sometimes you’re just ahead of the curve.