With a career now spanning six decades, Robyn Hitchcock remains a truly one-of-a-kind artist –surrealist rock ’n’ roller, iconic troubadour, guitarist, poet, painter, performer. An unparalleled, deeply individualistic songwriter and stylist, Hitchcock has traversed myriad genres with humor, intelligence, and originality over more than thirty albums and seemingly infinite live performances. From The Soft Boys’ proto-psych-punk and The Egyptians’ Dadaist pop to solo masterpieces like 1984’s milestone I Often Dream of Trains and 1990’s Eye, Hitchcock has crafted a strikingly original oeuvre rife with sagacious observation, astringent wit, recurring marine life, mechanized rail services, cheese, Clint Eastwood, and innumerable finely drawn characters real and imagined.
Born in London in 1953, Hitchcock attended Winchester College before moving to Cambridge in 1974. He began playing in a series of bands, including Dennis and the Experts which became The Soft Boys in 1976. Though light years away from first wave punk’s revolutionary clatter, the band still manifested the era’s spirit of DIY independence with their breakneck reimagining of British psychedelia. During their (first) lifetime, The Soft Boys released two albums, among them 1980’s landmark second LP, Underwater Moonlight. “The term ‘classic’ is almost as overused as ‘genius’ and ‘influential,’” declared Rolling Stone upon the album’s 2001 reissue. “But Underwater Moonlight remains all three of those descriptions.”
Hitchcock embarked on his solo career with 1981’s Black Snake Diamond Röle, affirming his knack for eccentric insight and surrealist lyrical hijinks. 1984’s I Often Dream Of Trains fused that approach with autumnal acoustic arrangements which served to deepen the emotional range of his songcraft. Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians were born that same year and immediately lit up college rock playlists with albums like 1986’s Element of Light. He signed to A&M Records in 1987 and earned early alternative hits with “Balloon Man” and “Madonna of the Wasps.” Hitchcock returned to his dark acoustic palette with 1990’s equally masterful Eye before joining the Warner Bros. label for a succession of acclaimed albums including 1996’s Moss Elixir and 1999’s Jewels For Sophia.
Having first reunited for a brief run of shows in 1994, The Soft Boys came together for a second go-around in 2001, this time releasing Nextdoorland to universal applause. Hitchcock joined the Yep Roc label in 2004, embracing collaboration with such friends and like-minded artists as Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings (2004’s Spooked) and legendary producer Joe Boyd (2014’s The Man Upstairs). Beginning in 2006, Hitchcock released a trio of albums backed by The Venus 3, featuring Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Rieflin.
Hitchcock moved to Nashville in 2015 where he quickly found a place among the Music City community, recording 2017’s self-titled album Robyn Hitchcock with an array of local talent including co-producer Brendan Benson. In 2019, Hitchcock joined forces with XTC’s Andy Partridge for the four-song EP, Planet England. Indeed, Hitchcock has proven an irrepressible collaborator throughout his long career, teaming with a boundless series of fellow artists over the years, including R.E.M., Grant-Lee Phillips, Jon Brion, The Decemberists, Norwegian pop combo I Was A King, Yo La Tengo to name but a very few.
Along with his musical efforts, Hitchcock has appeared in a number of films, among them collaborations with the late Jonathan Demme on 1998’s concert documentary Storefront Hitchcock as well as roles in 2004’s The Manchurian Candidate and 2008’s Rachel Getting Married.
An inveterate traveler and live performer, Hitchcock has toured near constantly for much of the past four decades, playing countless shows around the world, from Africa to the Arctic. Locked down in Nashville and London by the global pandemic of 2020, Hitchcock and his partner Emma Swift began their Live From Sweet Home Quarantine livestream series, performing weekly sets joined by their two cats, Ringo and Tubby. 2021 saw the publication of Hitchcock’s first book, Somewhere Apart: Selected Lyrics 1977-1997, featuring 73 songs and 34 illustrations in a beautiful cloth-bound edition from his own Tiny Ghost Press.
His new album Shufflemania! is out on October 21, 2022 on Tiny Ghost Records.