Karl Hyde: 'It’s interesting how one’s moral compass can shift when you become a parent'

The Underworld frontman tackles fatherhood and homelessness in two distinct MIF shows

Fatherland is a play about what it means to be a dad. How did it come about?
It was driven by Scott Graham, the director. His idea was: what are the things that you wish your father had said to you, and what are the things that you wish you’d said to your father? We decided to go to our hometowns [Hyde grew up in Bewdley, Worcestershire] and interview people from our families and schools to explore the ‘legend of father’, the stories that are passed on. It’s partly an exploration of what it is to be male, growing up in 21st century England, and it’s partly an autobiography of these three guys who went off to make something and found out an awful lot about themselves.

Do you feel the subject of fatherhood is under-explored?
Yeah, it’s not something we hear discussed that often. A lot of us were raised, for good or bad, in an environment where men toughed it out. You put up with whatever was happening and you brought your paycheque in. But there’s a lot more subtlety going on behind the scenes.

How did your own experiences of fatherhood feed into the work?
I was surprised at how much I could relate to everything that every father said, even those with quite extreme viewpoints. It’s interesting how one’s moral compass can shift when you become a parent because you now have to protect some vulnerable young people.

You and your father appear as characters in the play. Is it strange to see yourself portrayed by an actor?
It’s weird in auditions when someone starts saying my words and Scott’s directing them as to the inner workings of my mind. It’s a bit like therapy, really.

Your other MIF show, Manchester Street Poem, is a mixed-media installation about homelessness. Why that topic?
It started off by my kids asking me what was going on when they saw people living in a shop doorway. The answers that I was giving were vague and pathetic, so I thought I’d find out and see if there was anything to be done to help. But I’m not flying any flags here. I wanted to offer this piece to people with lived experience to hijack Underworld and to use it as an opportunity to tell their stories.

What did you learn from observing Manchester’s homeless problem first-hand?
Homelessness is on the increase and there are many reasons for it. There are issues with mental health and addiction that need to be properly addressed and funded. We’re all living on the same island, we’re all part of the same tribe, so there’s got to be something wrong with our systems that puts so many people out on the street.

You’re always working on a range of different projects, but does Underworld remain the anchor?
Yeah, without question. That’s the core of what I do. Rick [Smith, Underworld partner] is the only person that I’ve worked with where I constantly feel that I’m at the very edge of what I’m capable of delivering. When we get together there’s a powerful sense of excitement. That keeps me coming back.

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Fatherland review – three dads and a ladder give a voice to angry Britain
This thrilling play about three sons who go home to their dads – and their childhoods – shows verbatim theatre’s power to heed the forgotten

Michael Billington

06, Jul, 2017 @2:07 PM

Article image
Fatherland: look back in anger, love and pride
Simon Stephens grew up in Stockport, and couldn’t wait to leave. Now he has built a verbatim show, with Underworld musician Karl Hyde and director Scott Graham, about returning home – and putting yourself in your father’s place

Lyn Gardner

16, Jun, 2017 @12:09 PM

Karl Hyde: Edgeland – review
Underworld's Karl Hyde turns in a strangely underpowered solo album, writes Killian Fox

Killian Fox

20, Apr, 2013 @11:05 PM

Article image
Brian Eno and Karl Hyde confirm second collaborative album
Following their first joint effort Someday World, Eno and Hyde unveil High Life, a new LP inspired by 'the polyrhythmic music of Fela Kuti and funk'

Sean Michaels

29, May, 2014 @8:17 AM

Article image
Brian Eno and Underworld's Karl Hyde to release joint album
The Underworld singer felt like he was 'nine years old again' working with Eno on Someday World, which features guests from Coldplay and Roxy Music

Tim Jonze

25, Feb, 2014 @5:29 PM

Article image
Foals’ Yannis Philippakis and Underworld’s Karl Hyde hit the studio
The two artists have been making music together. While there’s ‘no agenda’ at this stage, Philippakis says the tracks will be released

Sean Michaels

18, Feb, 2014 @8:38 AM

Article image
Eno · Hyde: Someday World review – an alluring but sketchy soundclash
Brian Eno and Underworld's Karl Hyde collaborate on an album of contrasting elements that come together well – for the most part, writes Lanre Bakare

Lanre Bakare

01, May, 2014 @8:15 PM

Article image
True Faith review – the exhilarating art and afterlife of Joy Division and New Order
Manchester Art Gallery
Featuring bootleg footage, classic covers and haunting paintings, this terrific show is a reminder of how art was at the core of Manchester’s most enigmatic band

Adrian Searle

04, Jul, 2017 @5:56 PM

Article image
New Order: eschewing heritage rock for a conceptual synth orchestra
Not for New Order the safe haven of a classic album tour. Instead, the band are artfully reconfiguring their back catalogue

Dorian Lynskey

01, Jun, 2017 @11:00 AM

Article image
New Order + Liam Gillick: So It Goes review – a suitably theatrical Manchester return
There are intensely emotional scenes as New Order revisit their back catalogue on a grand scale with synth orchestra, airing songs not heard for 30 years plus rapturously received tributes to the band’s fated predecessor, Joy Division

Dave Simpson

02, Jul, 2017 @11:38 AM