On screen, he’s the archetypal Geordie. but maybe the rough edges around JIMMY NAIL have been rubbed away as he prepares to tour his

new album, The Nail File. Words: Jonathan Trew

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AS JIMMY NAIL gears up for a 37-date concert tour of the UK. his fans will be relieved to learn that the dark patches under his eyes are the result of long hours and hard work rather than an ill-judged. eye-liner-aided attempt to ease himself into the androgynous

world of rock ’n‘ roll. For while Nail‘s fans like their man a bit tattered around the edges. they ._ would draw the line at any hint of indie feyness pretty sharpish. 3'15 {1» .;

Throughout Nail‘s career. his roles on both screen and concert

22 THE UST 5—19 Mar 1998

of the gruff Geordie. A character who may have started off on the wrong side of the tracks but. however many dubious scrapes he winds up in. you just know that his heart is in the right place and his feet are firmly on the ground. Whether back in the early days as 02

a big hail full of peopie, ‘ii’iéi'i *‘s a treat after playing the hack

3;? g... 35am where there are two or three ge-agiiie slowly drinking pints.’

stage have been grounded in that team-s; u’ ::5

in Auf ll’icdcrsc/u'n Pvt. as the eponymous Spender or as the aspiring musician in ('mcmlilt’ Shoes. Nail has been cast as a rough diamond. the lovable rogue who done good. Sure. it's a cliche; but like all cliches. it contains something universal that makes it endlessly popular.

In person. it‘s easy to see why Nail has found this niche in the market. Taking a brief break from shooting a new film. Still Crazy. he seems easy-going and affable. He chuckles a lot. His accent. while still obvioust as Geordie as Newcastle Brown. is softer than expected.

He comes across as a mix of seasoned entertainer. shrewd businessman and genuine bloke. Ask him who he thinks will be in the audience at his concerts and he gives the standard showbiz reply: ‘lt seems to go right across the board. from young kids who go along with their parents right up to grandmas and everyone in between.‘

Then he adds. ‘1 don‘t really know who my demographic is' and ‘demographie leaps out as the kind of word used by a dyed-in- the-wool marketing man. 011 the other hand. Nail can come over all coy and describe his musical successes as ‘a very flattering surprise' and jokingly pinpoints his sole motivation for getting out of bed in the morning as ‘contractual obligations‘.

Nail. a former welder. has talked in the past about how people who come from modest backgrounds will often appreciate success more than those who are handed it as a birthright. Part of his make-up is formed from his own due-paying past.

‘I remember playing some place where there were literally more people in the hand than the audience.‘ he says of one of his gigs around Newcastle when he was a nipper in the 70s. ‘If you can get through those gigs. then you are OK for the rest. When it‘s a big hall full of people. then that‘s a treat after playing the back room of a pub where there are two or three people slowly drinking pints. As the set goes on. you keep an eye on each gulp of beer and hope that when the people get up they are going to the bar and not getting up to leave.‘

Now that Nail has successful careers as a scriptwriter. actor and singer. which role does he prefer?

‘When people are happy. they sing in the shower.” he states cryptically. ‘l‘ve never yet heard of anyone acting in the shower. Draw from that what you will.’

Jimmy Nail plays Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 18 Mar; Aberdeen Music Hall, 19 Mar; Dundee Caird Hall. 21 Mar; Edinburgh Playhouse, 22 Mar.