Cover feature Suspending the madness: Hayden Thorpe
On his debut solo album ‘Diviner’, the former Wild Beasts frontman finds spiritual freedom in surrendering yourself to the universe, and the power of carving out new beginnings.
Hayden Thorpe’s mum has given him plenty of pep talks in his life, but one in particular was needed more than most. Driving him from his home town of Kendal to the Oxenholme Lake District train station in January of 2017 - a journey the pair have taken countless times, and one they know like the back of their hands - the message was simple. “Step out. Face it.”
Just a few weeks before, over the Christmas break, Hayden and his Wild Beasts bandmates had convened at their local pub to settle on the hardest, most painful but necessary decision of their lives: they were to break up. Critical darlings that had progressed beyond belief in their decade and a half, the decision, as Hayden puts it, to “ring the bell” on the band came as a surprise for most. Rather than sliding away quietly over a number of years with dwindling interest and softened enthusiasm, the four-piece, in a similar way to The Maccabees before them, bowed out with what seemed like so much more still to give.
Unable to process the decision they had made immediately, his motherly heart-to-heart came at the start of a trip to Los Angeles, somewhere he went, he says, “to suspend my reality for enough time to deal with [the breakup]”. There were few plans or rules for the trip, more just getting time as far away from the blustery Lake District winter as possible, trying to process the news, and formulate some form of a plan for what comes next. There was one stipulation for his accommodation in LA though: it had to have a piano. “I didn’t know what that piano represented at the time - all I knew was that you couldn’t move it,” he says simply. “This was an immovable object, the most solid, earthbound object in this house, and I can rely on the mechanics of it, I know these sequence of notes. There is order.” What came from this trip - almost as a surprise, or a voice from within - was first solo single, ‘Diviner’.