Exclusive interview with Joe Hammill of popular Tees band Cattle & Cane

Joe Hammill is frontman of popular Tees band Cattle & Cane, where he plays alongside siblings Helen and Fran, while he is also enjoying an increasingly successful career as a songwriter.

Now Cattle and Cane are set to be joined on stage for the first time by the Northern Orchestra when they play the newly refurbished Middlesbrough Town Hall.

Teesside Life

The restaurants I love to eat in are
The Vane Arms in Thorpe Thewles – the food’s class and it’s good for vegetarians like me – and The Fork in the Road in Middlesbrough is very good.

The meal I order most of all is
Pesto pasta – it’s my go-to meal but it’s so hard as a vegetarian to find good meals.

My favourite tipple is
Whisky at the moment. I love whisky on its own. Not on the rocks – that ruins it.

The things I spend too much money are
Guitars. I’ve got too many guitars. I’ve got two Takamine acoustics, a Guild acoustic, a couple of Fender Telecasters, a Dogrow guitar, a banjo and a classical guitar. My thought is to just put it on the credit card!

For a day out, I
Think Saltburn is class. I recently invited my girlfriend Joanna up here for the first time and took her there. She loved Baker Street in Middlesbrough. She said she felt a community existence in Teesside! But I also like visiting places like Great Ayton and Roseberry Topping.

One place on Teesside I’d like to visit is
The top of the Transporter Bridge. I’ve not been to the top but I’d love to do that.

In my downtime, I like nothing better than
Listening to football podcasts. One I like is Quickly Kevin, will he Score? It’s hosted by comedian Josh Widdicombe and is basically about ‘90s football so I’ve been caning that. I need to get away from music sometimes.

My perfect night out involves
Going to a nice bar or maybe a gig somewhere like the Sage. I’ve seen Sufjan Stevens there. He’s the boy.

My perfect night in involves
Nikka whisky from the barrel and Netflix. I’ve just finished a series called Mindhunter, a psychological thriller. It was pretty brutal.

Life’s Loves

A book I love is
Twist of Gold by Michael Morpurgo. It’s essentially a kids’ book that relates to adults as well. It means a lot to me.

A film I love is
Life is Beautiful, my favourite film.

A TV programme I love is
The Undateables – it’s done really well.

A song I love is
Waterloo Sunset – my favourite song ever. I never tire of it.

A personality I love is
Pope Francis. I’m a big fan of his. I like his humility, I like what he says, I like that he doesn’t judge. I think he’s a great person for the world.

A holiday destination I love is
Malta. We recorded some of our last album there, and it was class. I like history as well and there’s loads of it there.

People in Life

I most I like to spend time with
My family, even though I’m in a band with them and we get on each other’s nerves!

The biggest influence on my career was
My dad. He passed away 11 years ago when I was 16 when I was really getting into writing music. He was a big supporter of getting us to learn the guitar and getting into a band. We used to play songs for him to get his reaction. Even today when I write songs I think about whether dad would have liked them.

The people who make me laugh are
My sister Helen and brother Fran, who always have me howling. Helen especially is unbelievably funny.

The person who inspires me is
A professional a writer called Simon Aldred, who’s in a band called Cherry Ghost and has written for Sam Smith and Liam Gallagher. He’s a class songwriter and a big inspiration.

The people who make me angry are
Obnoxious people. When you’re on a train and you hear music coming through someone’s headphones – that’s my big bugbear.

Working Life

My greatest achievement was
Writing a number one single that went Gold in Belgium a couple of years ago. It was called Easy Come Easy Go by a girl called Alice on the Roof.

My biggest disappointment was
That Cattle and Cane’s second album wasn’t better received by the industry. I felt songs like Fool for You and Make Your Vision were really ready to kick on but for whatever reason it didn’t happen.

My business mantra is
You’ve got to keep working, you can’t stop.

The alternative career I might have had was
Professional footballer. As a kid I was a good footballer but I don’t think I had the mental strength. I was good in the games that weren’t really important but when it came to finals I’d maybe go into my shell a bit. So I think I wouldn’t have had the mental fortitude to have been a professional.

The venue I’d love to perform at is
The Globe in Stockton when it reopens. That’s my dream. It’s a 2,500 capacity venue, and by 2019 Cattle and Cane should be able to fill that hopefully. It’s got so much history with the Stones, the Beatles and Cliff Richard having played there.

My favourite Teesside venue to play is
Middlesbrough Town Hall – it has really good sound and looks great. The Empire has been amazing too.