The violinist's tale. Helen O'Hara decided she was going to be a violinist at the age of 9. She was good to her word. Longlisted for the Penderyn Music Book Prize 2023.Read More
Carpet Burns is Tom Hingley’s account of his life as lead singer of Inspiral Carpets, one of the big three bands of the Manchester movement who, along with The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, changed music for a generation. Tom’s own words provide an account of what it felt like to be in the eye of a pop hurricane and what happens when the hits end and the arguments kick in.
A cool as f**k memoir. There’s no overriding sense of bitterness or regret in [Hingley's] eminently readable memoirs, a first-hand account of a fascinating era in British pop, conveyed with atmosphere and colour.
Often witty and at times poignant, [Carpet Burns] charts the band’s barrelling rise to success during the heady Manchester years of the late 80’s and early 90’s, before bearing out the adage that what goes up must come down. As the first and only account of the band it’s a must for all Inspiral’s fans and devotees to popular culture of the time (want to know where Noel Gallagher first cut his teeth). The book could also act in part at least, as a how-to or how-not-to guide for surviving the music industry, a business not famed for providing soft landings or after care.
Louder Than War
Tom Hingley may no longer be a member of Inspiral Carpets but he’s definitely got some tales to tell from when he was! Covering his time as singer with the band, his place in the Manchester music scene and his current career his autobiography is a page-turner full of anecdotes and memories.
The Yorkshire Post
While The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays had the swagger and velocity, of the so-called ‘Holy Triumvirate’ that rescued British pop, the Inspiral Carpets have somehow been squeezed out of the picture. But part of their charm was the fact they weren’t cool and when it comes to music their output far outweighed that of their rivals. Carpet Burns offers an intriguing glimpse into the music business at the time.
The Madchester explosion chased indie kids onto the dancefloor and made stars of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets. The dark horse of the slew of tomes inspired by these three acts is arguably ex-Inspiral Carpets vocalist Tom Hingley’s Carpet Burns, which contains fascinating insights into the band’s relationship with their roadie/future Oasis superstar Noel Gallagher and a side-splittingly funny chapter about their anarchic Top Of The Pops appearance with The Fall’s Mark E Smith.
This is one of the best of its kind books I’ve read in a while. Tom Hingley is certainly near the top of the pile when it comes to compiling his memoirs.
Oh my God! Every band is the same. I couldn’t put it down.
A brutally honest and open account of the Inspirals journey through the nineties. It does not just concentrate on the success and the highs, it is also a very candid recollection of the band’s fall from stardom. This is what makes this book so very special. Most memoirs or autobiographies written by musicians, often highlight the success and achievements only. This book is different. It takes you on a worded tour of the rise and subsequent fall of the band right from the very beginning to the end. It is a colourful narrative of the good, the bad and the wild times (believe me, eye-opening in parts).
Jim Bob, Carter USM
A superb book. I felt like I was reading a true story, which is not always the case with autobiographies by musicians.
Every now and again a book comes along charting a period of music history in such an accessible way, with such a clear and honest voice that when you finish that story you feel slightly lonely for a while.
An insight to many things in life and no mistake, this is thoroughly recommended.
The autobiography chronicles Hingley’s middle-class Oxfordshire childhood, from being the seventh and youngest child of an academically gifted though emotionally distant Oxford Don, through his rise to the heights of Manchester pop royalty and on to the inflated egos, arguments and inevitable split. Hingley is refreshingly articulate and honest, not shying away from recollecting incidents which make him look the spoilt rock star or where he came out second best. The fact that Tom is able to talk about it so frankly, would suggest he is now a man at peace with his past and his present.
Manchester City Official Match Programme
Carpet Burns provides a first-hand look at the Madchester movement from a man at the heart of his adopted city. Anyone interested in tour life and the impact Manchester’s music scene had will quickly devour every word.
Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture
An excellent memoir.
The Big Issue
An entertaining and refreshingly frank memoir.
Hingley has an eye for detail that is evidenced by the brevity of his book. He has astutely left more out than he has included, a rare talent in a world over-long with anecdotes.
The Oxford Times
Entertaining to read, particularly poignant and interesting reflections on an era which gave young outsiders an outlet for anger and a glimmer of hope.
Inspiral Carpets Appreciation Society
Tom’s book about his life as the singer of the Oldham 5 piece is a real eye-opener, and takes you on a real rollercoaster of the ups and downs of being in a band at the heart of the Manchester music scene. A memorable frontmen, a great singer, and now an accomplished author.
A well written and above all honest account, you are not going to expose yourself emotionally as Hingley does throughout the book without being sincere. I loved this part of my life and this book was written in a way that took me back with such clarity that I felt I could close my eyes and reach out and touch it.
Tom lays down his life in print with a brutal honesty that few would dare to approach, some of the anecdotes will have even the hardest faced reader rolling around on the floor or crying like a baby in a random pattern.
This is a fascinating and unique book about a unique and fascinating life. Memoirs are made of this.
A short excerpt from Tom Hingley's 1991 tour diary featured in Carpet Burns.
20th May 1991: Milan, Italy
Packed up, had a club sandwich downstairs, jumped on a minibus and went to the airport, where the security were doing spot-checks on people. We flew on a horrible seventies plane with no overhead lockers, and it felt pretty unsafe. I slept a little and read the Observer newspaper. There was a ropey landing in Milan. Got to the baggage terminal and the sniffer dogs picked Mark Coyle out and he was searched. The guard said, in heavily Italian accented English, ‘My dog says you have drugs.’ Mark responded in thick Mancunian, ‘Your dog’s a liar then.’ They let him go eventually.
The driver isn’t at the airport when we arrive, so we get some expensive cars to take us into Milan; the cars race one another. I book into hotel room 16, horrible, so I change it, but even my new one has blinds that won’t close. I get two hours sleep, and then we go out with Franco and Anthony from the record company to the nearby Buga and Fabio restaurant, then we go by underground to a club to watch The Fall perform. The record company had given us some large inflatable sausage-shaped balloons which had ‘Inspiral Carpets’ written on the side. Noel went right up to the front of the audience and started pushing and hitting and sticking one in Mark E. Smith’s face; it was hilarious. There were about 150 punters there. We take the tube back to the hotel. I call Alison and she tells me that The Stone Roses have won their court case against Silvertone and are now free to pursue a new recording contract with a new company. Big news. Good for them!
21st May 1991: Milan, Italy. Rolling Stone
Woke up at 9:30am, thought that Mansi had forgotten to get my CDs off the bus before he got rid of it. I call Graham who tells me that Craig had them. We went to the offices of the Italian record company – they are very stylish and cool – and nearby is a very beautiful covered market. At the offices we watched the video for the new single, ‘Please Be Cruel’. It’s really good and doesn’t need the re-edit we thought it might need. I did four interviews while everyone else went shopping. Went to the venue; it’s really nice and has about a 1000 capacity. The soundcheck is a bit grim, but I don’t complain. Ate mental bacon, egg and tomato sauce sandwiches, went back to the hotel, washed my socks and pants in the sink, and talked to Tony English at Russells about our merchandising deal for ages. I reckon that he should conduct the negotiations. Couldn’t speak to Alison, Paul was at home (Holly’s dad). He told me that Alison had gone to view a house with her workmate, Bruce Atkinson. I told Paul about Holly getting hit at school by a child called Dmitry. Back to the venue in cabs, the gig was okay, about 400 in – polite, but nice. We end with ‘The Wind Is Calling Your Name’. Tim Booth came backstage; we were flirting with mad Italian girls, gave them autographs too, he came back to the hotel to pack bags and go to sleep. I argued on the phone with Alison about whether she should come and visit us in Barcelona.
22nd May 1991: Rimini, Italy
Come down, get in the minibus and drive to Rimini. It’s quite a nice drive through the Italian countryside. On the motorway we make a tinny and smoke some hashish. The police stop us for absolutely nothing. I argue with Graham about leaving the window open. We arrive in Rimini and there are loads of Africans in robes. The driver is grumpy and tries to take the bus under a low railway bridge that would have ripped the roof and our heads off, but we shout at him to prevent it. We arrive at the hotel – Carlton-by-the-Sea, really sunny and beautiful. Graham buys a volleyball and we go on the beach for a game of ‘60 Seconds’, which I really enjoy (a game where you have to keep the ball in the air for a minute). Clint throws the ball to a dog on the beach, it catches it with its canines and punctures it. We all laugh as the air farts out. We decide to revise our travel plans and instead of driving, we’ll fly to Switzerland the day after the gig, to give us an extra day in Rimini on the beach soaking up the sun. We go to the concert at 4pm, it’s an old pizza restaurant/brothel, which traded in the Fascist period, and has been continuously open since. It’s called Perestroika; nice vibe outside where we are playing on a stage in the garden. Soundchecked, the speakers are uneven, go back to the hotel where I listen to Ella Fitzgerald, then drive to the gig, no one there apart from a few female English students. Gig very quiet, encore with ‘Further Away’. Martyn is angry with the rest of the band, saying we didn’t put enough effort into the performance. Graham somehow loses his shoes.
23rd May 1991: Rimini, Italy. Day Off
Clint decides to go with the crew bus to Switzerland with Meagan, and in the process annoys the crew again by throwing one of them off their bunk and moving their possessions. The crew retaliate by throwing some of Clint and Meagan’s stuff off the bus. Mark carries Clint’s ghetto blaster around, and manages to lose the back of the battery cover, but doesn’t really care less about it. Not wise to make yourself unpopular with your crew, I reckon. Have breakfast with Graham downstairs. We realise that the hotel is nearly empty due to it being out of season. Go on the beach and find a replacement ball after getting some lira. Play ‘60 Seconds’ again with Martyn, Mansi and Graham. Craig is ill, going down with a cold. We have a pizza in a restaurant opposite the hotel then chill out in the evening, go to a taverna and have a drunken meal and pay in dollars from the Milan promoter. Sit in the bar looking at two football matches on the TV, simultaneously with MTV. There are posters of The Clash and The Stone Roses on the wall. Go back to the hotel and finish off the skunk with Craig. We watch a thunderstorm over the sea. The lightning is striking the sea in impossible snaking patterns, a multicycle goes past with people on it, very surreal-stoned.
Of all the iconic musicians and scenes that emanate from Manchester, Simon Wolstencroft is the one who joins up the dots. He learnt his chops playing with Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke, but turned down The Smiths because he didn’t like the cut of Morrissey’s jib. He parted ways with his schoolmates Ian Brown and John Squire before The Patrol became The Stone R..Read More