TOM Hingley reckons there should always be a bit of stagecraft in music.

A little magic that separates the live performance from listening to the songs at home.

It is a philosophy that the former Inspiral Carpets frontman applies to every gig he does.

He said: “Sometimes I’m doing gigs to 3,000 with a band, other times it’s performing to 15 people in an arts centre somewhere so it’s different every time.

“But I try and approach every gig in the same way. You should always be generous at gigs I think. You should never turn up and go: ‘I’m not in a good mood’ and let that have an impact on the night.

“And what can look like the least promising shows can actually be the most impressive. You’re best off trying to remember it’s about what the audience is getting.”

The approach comes from Tom’s 43 years in music, including around 30 years where he has made a living from it.

He added: “I was always very good at singing. I used to sing in church when I was a kid and then I started to sing in bands when I was just 11 or 12.

“Then when I was about 15, I sold bootleg T-shirts at music festivals. I realised there were ways to make money out of the music industry.

“I had a good head for arts and a good head for commerce so I continued to put on little gigs until eventually I met up with the Inspiral Carpets.

“Their singer at that time, Stephen, left so I became their singer. We had all that success and then it ended but I kept on going because I’m not really any good at doing anything else.”

Even at small gigs, Tom likes to retain that element of showbiz.

The 54-year-old said: “I did a gig the other week and there were two local bands playing. We had a little green room to sit in and every time they came in, they left the door open.

“So what happens then is members of the public start walking past eyeing up all of your possessions that you’ve got in the room.

“There’s a massive difference between people who do it just for a bit of fun and people who do it for a living. Because if you do it for a living you have a defined understanding of what’s front of stage and what’s backstage.

“You don’t really want the audience wandering in backstage as you want them to think it’s some magical place when in fact it’s some middle-aged blokes eating crisps.”

Tom realised the power of keeping up appearances when he saw the Charlatans play at the Royal Court in Liverpool in the early 90s.

He added: “A young fan had twisted her ankle and she was in complete agony.

“She had St John Ambulance people leaning over her trying to help her and she looked up and realised I was the singer from Inspiral Carpets and suddenly all the pain dropped out of her face.

“At that time I was very famous and it made me realised how powerful that fandom thing can be and how ludicrous it is.

“The pain probably came back pretty soon!”

Tom is also marking 20 years since the launch of his solo career.

He said: “I haven’t played with the Inspiral Carpets for almost 10 years but as a solo artist I’ve been all over the world.

“It’s just a continuation of what I did before but I’m just doing it on my own now.”

That is something Tom has made peace with after an acrimonious split from Inspiral Carpet in 2011.

In his memoir he said he was sacked while there are conflicting accounts from the band – but he sees that as water under the bridge.

Tom, who is working on his second book about being a jobbing legacy musician, added: “The time I spent with Inspiral Carpets were the best years of my life and I was very privileged to work with them.

“It didn’t end very well but I’m not caught up in any regrets about that now.

“It’s just a new chapter. It’s time to be positive and look forward because there were times in the past when I was quite embittered about it all. I’m not now.

“I’m very proud of what I did with them. I’m very grateful for it all.”

Tom, who has four solo albums, still weaves Inspiral Carpets tracks into his set and he will be doing just that at Warrington’s Live Bar on August 23 as part of a UK tour.

He will then be touring in New Zealand in the winter. Tom still relishes the opportunity to travel as a musician and particularly loves Oamaru.

It was one of the most successful places in New Zealand in the 19th century before times changed and its economy and development stalled.

Tom, who played at the Parr Hall with Inspiral Carpets in 1989, said: “They film a lot of period pieces there because it has a lot of Victorian buildings that were slung up and never taken down.

“It also has tiny penguins that come out of the sea at night to nest so there are so many beautiful things to see in New Zealand.”

Tom Hingley performs at Live Bar in Barbauld Street next Friday, August 23. Visit