Lloyd Cole’s passion for golf, music, and being amusing

LLOYD COLE first came to attention in the 1980s with his band The Commotions, with whom he enjoyed hit singles like ‘Brand New Friend’, ‘Lost Weekend’, and ‘Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken?’. In the 1990s he disbanded the group and embarked on a successful solo career in America.

This year Lloyd released a four CD retrospective boxset and as part of his current Irish tour he plays Róisín Dubh on Sunday at 9pm.

Lloyd lives in Western Massachusetts with his wife, Elizabeth and their sons William and Frank.

“It’s not so different from where I grew up in Buxton, Derbyshire, near the Pennine Hills,” he tells me on the phone from Hamburg. “Most of my early adult life was spent living in big cities like Glasgow, London, and New York and I would consider myself a city person. I’m actually shocked I’m able to cope with not being in a big city. Where I live now I’m within walking distance of a fairly good bar and I’m within 10 minutes of a golf club.”

During the early 1970s Cole’s parents ran the Chapel-en-le-Frith golf club and at the age of 13 Lloyd learned to play (and love ) the game. Whenever he’s on tour he tries to fit in a couple of rounds in between his gigging duties. Golf Digest placed him 14th in the Top 100 musicians who play golf.

“I’ve fallen down in the rankings in recent years,” he says. “I do have an excuse though in that I’ve had two knee surgeries since the first poll in 2007. I’ve never crossed paths with anyone in the Top 10 but I would like to get above Alice Cooper in the rankings.

‘I think if I have a big goal left in golf it would be to have a game with Bob Dylan. From what I’ve heard he bought some kind of castle in Scotland and when he applied to the local golf club they said ‘Oh, thank you Mr Zimmerman, but we’ll have to put you on the waiting list’! It’s hard to believe that he plays golf. It’s hilarious.”

Lloyd’s former Commotions’ bandmate Lawrence Donegan is a sports journalist and is currently golf correspondent at The Guardian. When the band re-formed for a 20th anniversary mini-tour of Britain and Ireland in 2004 it provided the pair with an opportunity to display their skills on the golf course.

“I was reading Lawrence’s column 10 minutes ago,” Lloyd says. “When we had the reunion both Lawrence and I had great fun with the music but the most important thing was to see who would win the grudge golf match between us. When we got the band back together it was the perfect time frame because we did it for exactly a month. We rehearsed for about two and a half weeks and we played for about a week and a half. It was enough for it to be fun and not a chore at all. It also was long enough for me to realise I’m a folk singer these days and not a rock star.”

Throughout his time with The Commotions, Lloyd was perceived as a moody individual. However anyone who has experienced one of his solo live shows will attest to the fact that he is actually a very funny person in the flesh. Perhaps it is no coincidence that British stand-up comedian Jimmy Carr bears and uncanny resemblance to him?

“It is true - we do actually look alike” says Cole of his comedy doppelgänger. “He’s actually quite a big fan of mine and he’s been to a few shows. I did meet him once backstage at a show in London and he told me a very funny joke that is completely unrepeatable. The big difference between us though is that he has to be funny all the time, whereas I only have to be funny when I screw up a guitar bit.”

Lloyd is one of the most influential British songwriters of the last 30 years. Three years ago he was thrust back into the spotlight when Scottish band Camera Obscura scored a hit with ‘Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken’. The song has been well received by Cole himself.

“It was lovely,” he says. “When I’m 50 and playing in Las Vegas I intend to mince on stage to that song”

Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago.

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