# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Heist - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 5 / 10 / 2022

Heist - Interview


Mike and Allison Targett from cinematic pop act Heist speak to John Clarkson about their first album in eighteen years, ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths’, and their appearance at the Pennyblackmusic Bands Night at the Water Rats in London on the 10th September.

Heist was a popular act on the London indie music scene in the late 1990s and 2000s. The group, which has had various line-ups but has always revolved around the central trio of main songwriter Mike Targett (vocals, guitar), his wife Allison (vocals, keyboards, trumpet) and Tony Oudot (drums), won in 1998 a few months after it formed a New Musical Express Great Unsigned Band Award. It then went on to record two albums on its own Super 8 Recordings label. The first of these, ‘Friday Night at the Trabi Races’ (2000), which took its name from an illegal set of Hungarian car races that some of its inhabitants became involved in to stave off boredom, was a concept album about escape. It combined Heist’s cinematic pop sound with the influence of 60’s spy film scores and composer John Barry. Heist’s second album. ‘A Shopkeeper Will Not Appear’ (2004), built on these themes. It was another concept album, this time being about a shopkeeper (which Mike Targett was at the time), evading reality by going off into daydreams and flights of fancy, and had a strong French influence, taking much of its inspiration from songwriters like Michel Le Grand, Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel. Heist, however, fell into hiatus shortly afterwards when the Targetts moved to the South of France. A third album was long promised but failed to materialise, while Mike Targett instead focused on a covers EP, ‘Mike Targett Sings Jake Thackray’ (2013) and writing four musicals in French. In recent months there has been a lot of development in the Heist camp. The group played its first live shows in sixteen years, two in Germany at the end of last year, and followed this with two shows in Scotland in April. Heist also released a download single, ‘Happy Families’, at the same time, and will be following this with the third album, ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’, in October. It will also make its return to the London stage on September 10th at the Water Rats when it will be co-headlining with Idiot Son the next Pennyblackmusic Bands Night on a bill which will also feature The Volunteered and Simon Bromide. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Mike and Allison Targett about ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages', and their forthcoming Pennyblackmusic Bands Night appearance. PB: When we last spoke to you in 2013 at the time of Mike’s solo covers EP, ‘Mike Targett Sings Jake Thackray’, you were working on the third Heist album then. How many of the songs on ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths’ come from back then and how many of them have been written more recently? MIKE TARGETT: At that time we got as far as recording the title track 'Births, Deaths and Marriages' plus 'Happy Families' and also a kind of meandering epic about British history called 'Gas and Air'. We weren't entirely happy with the way they sounded and they were shelved until a bit of a creative renaissance during lockdown -- seems to have been quite a common phenomenon! The other songs -- all initially just for acoustic guitar or piano and voice -- have emerged sporadically over the last nine years. A new departure for us as the previous two albums were more or less imagined as full cinematic entities before the songs were really written; this time it's the other way round. I think maybe the songwriting is better now. I've had seventeen years of filling notebooks with stuff most of which never saw the light of day and what you'll hear on the album are the few bits I was happy with. On reflection it's perhaps partly my over-zealous sense of quality-control that has stopped us from being more prolific! PB: Escape has always been a major theme for Heist. The painter’s son and the baker’s wife’s daughter both flee the family roost in ‘Happy Families’ and the title track of ‘Births. Marriages and Death’ seems in part to be about evading the monotony of life and finding ways of getting beyond that. Do you see escape as being the main theme of this forthcoming album as well? MT: Interesting question, but actually the answer is no, not exactly. When we started out, I think we more or less invented ourselves. We imagined the kind of band that we wanted to be -- a kind of Scott Walker meets Nancy Sinatra through a psychedelic fairground tannoy, in a completely different universe from everything that was going on around us -- and almost by the act of imagining it we became that band. 'A Shopkeeper Will Not Appear' was the crystalization of that idea -- we imagine or dream our own narrative, and we invent our own lives. The songs on the new album are almost the opposite of that idea. If they have any common thread it's the way in which history - family history and social history generally - cunningly moulds our destinies and the narratives of our lives. The characters in the song 'Happy Families' that you mention are trying to step outside of their history, break the family resemblance, but I don't know if they ever really will. 'Master Potts the Painter's Son' and 'Miss Bun the Baker's Daughter' are defined by their parents, after all. They can't escape the game -- I think that's the subtext. It's about the stuff we can't escape: our stories are buffeted and propelled by grief, joy, struggle, resentment, the search for belonging, things that happened even before we were born. 'Births, Deaths and Marriages' is largely about making sense of all that, the conflicts, monuments and pacts which define us, this list of momentous events which most of us end up winding the stories of our lives around. 'Gas and Air' has to do with that too. PB: You have listed people such as the French composer Michel Le Grand, John Barry, Jacques Brel and, of course, Jake Thackray as being influences in the past. What do you see as being the main influences on this new album? MT AND ALLISON TARGETT: Well, there's a bit of Sparks in there. And a bit of Momus. mid-period Beatles, Flaming Lips circa 'The Soft Bulletin'. And the ghost of Mott the Hoople. Plus the usual French stuff like Ravel, and some Bernstein and Sondheim for good measure. PB: When do you hope to release ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths’? The world has changed a lot since you last released an album in 2004 , with both the rise of digital music and the return of vinyl. In what formats do you hope to release it? MT AND AT: The release date is October 29th 2022. Given the global vinyl crisis we've decided to go all retro and do CD and download only initially, with some records to follow. PB: The cover of the ‘Happy Families’ has a photograph taken in the 1960s or 1970s of a man, who is obviously something of a character, standing on a pedestal outside a massive block of flats. Who is that man and where was the photo taken? AT: Some of the songs on the new album are related to my family history. That photo is a polaroid of my dad in Trafalgar Square, London, perhaps 1978. I can only imagine that he was full of fun and joie de vivre as I never met him. I just have some stories and photos that I've collected from the family members that I discovererd in my search for him. PB: The first two albums were recorded using the computer technology of the 2000s. Has this one been recorded using the technology of the 2020s? Has there been a lot of updating of equipment to make this album? MT: None, in fact. We've bought some vintage cymbals and a great old analog mixing desk. And installed everything in a converted cowshed in France. We have a bank of old computers running Windows XP which store everything -- the 2020s are nowhere to be seen. PB: You have spent the last two decades living on a farm in South France raising chickens and running a studio? You’re now preparing to move back to the UK permanently. Why have you decided to return now? MT AND AT: Well, it's time for a change - our kids are older now and we're a bit more free to roam. Also, some of our work here is done: whilst avoiding making the third Heist album for the last 17 years, Mike has written four musicals in French which we've staged regularly here, but they have perhaps run their course now, and there are no immediate plans to write more (in French). In any case the studio in France will continue to function and is in fact thriving: we recently recorded and produced David Christian (Comet Gain)'s album there which was great -- we both played on it along with members of The Clientele and Teenage Fanclub amongst others. We'll continue to use France as a base for mucical projects. It's a great relaxed environment where time stands still. PB: Heist have been through various line-ups, but have always consisted of a central core of yourselves and drummer Tony Oudot? One of the main reasons for the hiatus was that you were both busy bringing up your family. Has it also been difficult to keep things going with Tony in London and yourselves in France? AT: No, not at all. Tony was here the day we moved into the farm and is part of the family. He spends lots of time here in France with us, working on Heist stuff, enjoying the change of scene from his life in London and joining in our other musical projects. PB: You returned to live work last year with gigs in Hamburg and Kassell? Why did you decide to go to Germany to play your first gigs in eighteen years? What kind of experience was it stepping back onto a stage after a long absence? MT AND AT: Germany's always been a second - third? - home for us. We have an incredible loyal following there. The gigs were organized by German friends and fans who had heard that the new material was nearly ready to be aired. PB: Your other two gigs have been in Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland in support of A New International. How did those Scottish dates come about? Allison, you were brought up in Scotland. Had you known A New International from their Starlets days? AT: Heist played in Glasgow with the Starlets many moons ago. Biff Smith, A New International and Starlets’ frontman. has always been a Heist fan and we kept in touch through social media. I encouraged him to get A New International together for the gigs with Heist supporting. He is an amazing showman, their live performance is mesmerising and it worked really well for us to play together. PB: Those shows were the first to feature your new keyboardist Nicola Jones. Who is she and what is her musical background? AT: Nicola is our neighbour in France who turns out to be an incredibly, naturally talented musician. She had never played in bands before and we have been playing music together over the last fifteen years. She plays keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, accordion and has a brilliant voice. Above all, she loves music and loves playing. PB: You’re co-headlining our next London Bands’ Night on September 10th at the Water Rats with Idiot Son and playing your first London gig since 2004. What can we expect from you that night? What other plans do you have for the near future beyond that? MT: For the Water Rats we're going to try to do a balance of new material from 'Births, Deaths and Marriages' and songs from 'Friday Night at the Trabi Races' and 'A Shopkeeper Will Not Appear', which we haven't played in the UK for a very long time. After that we're hopefully heading out into Olde England with Andy Thompson from Idiot Son to do a gig or two to be announced soon, before then returning to London to launch the album with a little party at the Hope and Anchor, Saturday 29th October, which will include some very special guests. Tickets for that will be on sale at the Water Rats show. It'll feature more new songs and possibly some French stuff... PB: Thank you. Heist will be co-headlining with Idiot Son the Pennyblackmusic Bands Night at the Water Rats in London on September 10th. Tickets for the gig, which will also feature The Volunteered and Simon Bromide, cost £8 in advance from www/wegottickets.com and £10 on the door.

Band Links:-

Play in YouTube:-

Picture Gallery:-
Heist - Interview

Heist - Interview

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit


Interview (2013)
Heist - Interview
Heist singer Mike Targett speaks to John Clarkson about his first release in eight years, which a five-song tribute EP to bawdy 60's/early 1970's singer-songwriter, Jake Thackray
Interview (2004)
Interview (2002)


With the black watch and Moon Under Water, The Water Rats, London, 31/3/2022 (2022)
Heist - With the black watch and Moon Under Water, The Water Rats,  London, 31/3/2022
We preview our next London gig which will take place at The Water Rats on the 31st March with Heist, the black watch and Moon Under Water.


Births, Deaths and Marriages (2023)
Outstanding third album and first is seventeen years from orchestral pop act Heist, which reflects on the impact of history on all our lives and how it continues to have a hold and effect on the present

most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors