‘I was terrified before going on Top of the Pops’ - Johnny Hates Jazz recall the early days

Virgin Radio

27 Feb 2024, 08:00

Ahead of their first ever headline tour, Johnny Hates Jazz visited Virgin Radio to play LIVE and to talk about their career so far.

Original members Clark Datchler and Mike Nocito joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch to play some iconic tracks on the Stool of Rock, and to discuss their beginnings, getting back together after not speaking for “22 years”, and their upcoming run of shows.

Going back to the beginning, Clark said: “Me and Mike probably met when I was 18. Everything centred around a recording studio called Rak Studios in St. John's Wood [London]. And that was owned by the legendary record producer Mickie Most. Mike was an engineer at Rak Studios. I was signed to Mickie as a singer songwriter, and our third member Calvin [Hayes], was Mickie’s son. And so we all kind of gravitated by happenstance together, but [it’s] only the two of us now.” 

Mike added: “I worked with Pink Floyd, The Police, Duran Duran, The Thompson Twins, The Cure. I was able to observe all of these amazing people. I was just the tea boy to start with, just watching them. 

“It was great. So, when Johnny Hates Jazz came along, we were able to make the records ourselves. There was no one else in the room. We didn’t need them.”

Clark told Chris: “We were very much studio guys, in the sense that we practically grew up in recording studios. So although of course we dreamt of being successful musicians and a hit band and all the rest of it, our home, our comfort zone was still in the studio. So we always went back to the studio. That became our place where we could be completely who we were.”

Remembering when the band broke through, Clark said: “No-one had seen us until we got into the Top 40. No-one knew what we looked like, which might have been a good thing, actually! And then, of course, the big thing back then was you needed to get on Top of the Pops, because that would be what would propel you forward and that happened. And it actually spread all over the world then.”

Whilst saying he is “older and wiser” now, the vocalist added: “Back then, I was terrified before going on Top of the Pops. And if anyone watches that first appearance, when we did Shattered Dreams, you can see I'm visibly very nervous.” 

Despite their success, the band were together “about a couple of years” but “there wasn't a second album” before they split.

Regarding teaming up again with Mike in 2010, Clark said: “So, 22 years later, we got together and decided to do a new album, an album called Magnetized. And since then we've done a couple of others. We're going to do another one, coming up, but our big thing, of course, is that we're going on tour this year.”

Johnny Hates Jazz’s tour will run from March until October. The band will also play a special headline show at the O2 Indigo in London on the 19th December. During their visit to Virgin Radio, Clark and Mike - along with guitarist Nick Keeble - played three belting tracks: Shattered Dreams, I Don’t Want To Be A Hero and Turn Back The Clock.


Speaking about I Don't Want To Be a Hero, the frontman said: “Because it's an anti-war song, [it] has remained very topical. So every time we perform it, there's always this sense of present. It's still a present song.”

On Turn Back The Clock, he continued: “When I wrote it, I was a wee lad imagining what I was going to feel when I was older, reminiscing about the past, but I didn't know. And then years later it turns out that it's become much more meaningful to me than it ever was.”

Watch the full session - and read more of what Clark and Mike told Chris - here.

For tickets to Johnny Hates Jazz’s live dates visit johnnyhatesjazz.com.

For more great live sessions and interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.