phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
Tired of Pretending: An Interview with Chrissie Hynde

Tired of Pretending: An Interview with Chrissie Hynde

3 October 2017 |

As lead singer and rhythm guitarist of The Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde blazed a trail for female musicians with her defiant attitude, sultry vocals and a nagging ability to write edgy, cutting, brave new-wave, pop and rock records. The evidence… how about record sales topping 25 million? Now the 66-year-old is back on the road with The Pretenders for a full UK tour.

Despite a triumphant start to her music career – The Pretenders’ eponymous debut album reached number one in the UK and still sits at no.13 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Best Debut of All Time List – the band’s yearning for consistency has been constantly marred by drug-related issues (and deaths), and an ever-changing line-up. Yet Hynde, despite being as brazen and ballsy as any musician on the scene, has always maintained an air of rock mystique, and will go down in music folklore as one of the most iconic performers of a generation.
 
“It’s always good to be out and playing live – it’s where our hearts are,” Hynde notes. “We do this every couple of years and it keeps the connection going… both with each other and the audience. You can’t take anything for granted these days; you can’t assume people will always still want to hear you.”
 
In 1973 a 22-year-old Chrissie Hynde caught a flight from her home town of Akron, Ohio, to London in a bid to better her life. Immersing herself in the capital’s counterculture, the precocious upstart landed a job at New Musical Express as a journalist, followed by a stint at Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s fabled SEX boutique on Chelsea’s Kings Road. Unable to obtain a work visa following failed attempts to marry two of The Sex Pistols (she asked both Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten) Hynde went back to America briefly, before returning to the UK where she successfully fulfilled her dream of starting a band, The Pretenders.


 
Given her truly rock ‘n’ roll rise to fame, it comes as little surprise to find Hynde suitably unimpressed by today’s musical carousel of X Factor wannabes and overly-coiffured popettes. “There isn’t enough ‘f*ck off’ in music today,” she remarks. “And there’s too much attention paid to fashion – it seems as if it’s meant to carry the music now... to compensate for it. But really, who cares what I am wearing? Some dumbass might, but that’s their problem. Most of the time I just look like a roadie.”
 
Hynde may not like it, but she is undoubtedly something of a fashion icon herself. That mop of jet black hair, band t-shirt swagger and trademark snarl are all noted in 70s punk mythology, along with Patti Smith’s louche white shirts and Debbie Harry’s slinky pillow case dress. Despite maintaining her distinctive American twang, Hynde has lived in North-West London for over four decades, and it was from there that she raised her two grown-up daughters Natalie (with Ray Davies of The Kinks) and Yasmin (with Jim Kerr of Simple Minds). The singer is happy to admit, though, that had she not embarked on a family, she perhaps would have lived a more nomadic existence.
 
“As a creative person I have always moved around a lot with what I do, always looking for that creative spark, yet I never wanted to move out of this neighbourhood,” she reflects. “Having kids cements you even more to an area – you don’t want to disorientate them.
 
“Might I have lived in every borough of London if it was just me? Perhaps. But we’ll never know.”



Laying down roots doesn’t seem to have affected Hynde’s musical output much, having released 10 studio albums under The Pretenders moniker, and one solo record. Activism, too, has always been a principal element of her persona. A devout vegetarian, Hynde is also strictly anti-fur and admits to being arrested “a couple of times.” However, despite the relative nihilism, she remains keen to be remembered for her unwavering song writing that has inspired a bevy of female performers over the past three decades. This is easy of course given that her canon includes such classics as Brass in Pocket, Don’t Get Me Wrong and I’ll Stand By You.
 
“You know, the bit I really like is playing shows, playing with a band. Everything else is a bit tedious. You do what you have to do. I’m not too bothered about whether a record does well or not because I’ve never really cared that much,” she says languidly, before adding with a wry smile… “I’m not supposed to say that, because I’m supposed to be more ambitious, but the truth is I hope it does okay, because then I get to tour. But that is as much as I invest in it emotionally.”
 

The Pretenders play London’s Eventim Apollo (Sunday 8 October), the Brighton Dome (Tuesday 10 October), Bristol’s Colston Hall (Wednesday 11 October) and the New Theatre Oxford (Wednesday 18 October). More information can be found here.

Tell us what you think

You may also like

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee– It’s International Coffee Day!

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee– It’s International Coffee Day!

Move aside tea. A life source for many, and a passion for others, coffee has become Britain’s favourite hot drink. Yes, the traditional cuppa will always…

A Journey of Self-Discovery: An Interview with Filmmaker Arshad Khan

A Journey of Self-Discovery: An Interview with Filmmaker Arshad Khan

A deeply personal documentary, ‘ABU’ traces filmmaker Arshad Khan’s journey as a gay man, an unwelcome immigrant and a Pakistani Muslim. 'ABU' - father in Urdu – is…

Fun for the Whole Family: Half-Term Activities

Fun for the Whole Family: Half-Term Activities

Finding something to do with the whole family isn’t always the easiest task. However, from indoor rainforests to a theme park devoted to all things LEGO,…

Win a Deluxe Afternoon Tea for Two!

The Langshott Manor - Win a Deluxe Afternoon Tea for Two!

Afternoon tea within a 16th Century Manor House? Yes please!   

Halloween Entertainment at Blenheim Palace

Halloween Entertainment at Blenheim Palace

Looking for something to do this October Half-Term? Head to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire for a fantastic family day out!

Spice Up Your Life: Britain’s Top Curries

Spice Up Your Life: Britain’s Top Curries

We’re a nation that loves a Sunday roast, fish and chips, and a fluffy Victoria sponge. However, one of the country’s most popular dishes is a…

Unmissable October Events

Unmissable October Events

While Halloween may be the quintessential October event, it is also right at the very end of the month. So make the most of the…

The So: To Speak Festival of Words Returns for its Second Year

The So: To Speak Festival of Words Returns for its Second Year

The So: To Speak Festival of Words celebrates Southampton’s bustling culture with an exciting range of events.

Independence of Vision: ‘Bomberg’ at Pallant House Gallery

Independence of Vision: ‘Bomberg’ at Pallant House Gallery

Revered as one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century, David Bomberg’s work has, for too long, been neglected. However, in Pallant House Gallery’s major…

Most popular

Fun for the Whole Family: Half-Term Activities

Fun for the Whole Family: Half-Term Activities

Make the most of the half-term with our guide to family friendly museums, and attractions across the UK.
Relive the Magic: Top 5 Harry Potter Locations to Visit

Relive the Magic: Top 5 Harry Potter Locations to Visit

Go behind the scenes and discover the slightly off-the-rader Potter locations across the country.
An Apple a Day: How to Celebrate World Apple Day!

An Apple a Day: How to Celebrate World Apple Day!

From sweet pies to pints of cider, we’re a country that devours the humble apple in any incarnation. We look at the best events, places and ways to bite into a crunchy, sweet and juicy apple across the nation for World Apple Day 2017!
Independence of Vision: ‘Bomberg’ at Pallant House Gallery

Independence of Vision: ‘Bomberg’ at Pallant House Gallery

Marking the 60th Anniversary of David Bomberg's death, ‘Bomberg’ is a fascinating look at one of the greatest, but often forgotten, British artists of the 20th Century.
The UK’s Best Kebab Shops

The UK’s Best Kebab Shops

Forget about those dodgy, greasy kebabs you’ve eaten on the way home from a night out. A great kebab is an artform, and we’ve found the country’s finest masterpieces.
A Cultural Guide to Liverpool

A Cultural Guide to Liverpool

Football, top-notch grub and The Beatles - Scousers are fiercely proud of their city’s culture. See why with our guide to Liverpool’s thriving cultural scene.
A Journey of Self-Discovery: An Interview with Filmmaker Arshad Khan

A Journey of Self-Discovery: An Interview with Filmmaker Arshad Khan

Culture Calling speaks with the filmmaker about his heartfelt and moving documentary ‘ABU’.
Top 5: Halloween Half Term Activities

Top 5: Halloween Half Term Activities

Keep the whole family entertained with the best Halloween-themed events this October
VIDEO: Memorable Music Gigs

VIDEO: Memorable Music Gigs

You never forget your first or favourite gig. We spoke to some festival goers at this year's Weyfest to dig a little deeper.
A Music Lovers Guide to Leeds

A Music Lovers Guide to Leeds

Explore the best of the city's thriving music scene

Your inbox deserves a little culture!