With his trademark woolly hat, jacket and jeans, Badly Drawn Boy cuts an unmistakeable figure whether he is strumming his guitar in a festival field or sat in the stand, wrapped in the blue and white colours of Manchester City.
While Damon Gough has established himself as a well-loved Northern institution, his early inspiration for music and the arts, he recalls, was ignited in a Ribble Valley commune long before Badly Drawn Boy’s first album – The Hour of the Bewilderbeast – launched him into mainstream success.
“Before moving to Manchester I lived in a derelict hospital with a load of other artists at Brockhall Village near Clitheroe,” said Gough, who plays the Beat-Herder festival next week.)
“We’d hang about together exchanging musical ideas and stuff – it was like a big party for a few months.
“I had a tiny four track recorder and I really started to make music seriously then.”
He has since released several studio albums, and Badly Drawn Boy’s soundtrack to the film About A Boy, starring Hugh Grant, remains one of his most successful albums and spawned two singles Silent Sigh and Something to Talk About.
“The Ribble Valley was a really nice time in my life and every Saturday we’d go to a club in Blackburn called Jazzy Keks and see all these bands and DJs play.
“I suppose I was a local then because mum and dad lived in Belmont.
“It is fantastic to be asked to play Beat-Herder because it will feel like my local festival in many ways because of the connections I had with that area of Lancashire.
“I love the mad line-up at Beat-Herder and apparently the vibe is amazing.
“I’m planning to stay for the weekend and soak it all up.”
Gough’s other passion is football, most notably Premier League champions Manchester City.
The Mercury Prize winner may have played some big gigs over the years, but he revealed he couldn’t have been more nervous when he was invited to play at City’s former home – Maine Road – after their final ever game there a decade ago.
“I’ve done hundreds of gigs all over the world, and it was probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done,” added Gough.
“Last game of the season at Maine Road, end of the era with people who had probably been going there for 40 years or longer and they wheeled me out on to the centre circle
“City had lost to Southampton 1-0. So I played a couple of songs and then gave a shout out to all the stands and then I went ‘Southampton’ and they all cheered and I said, ‘Do one!’
“As soon as I said it I thought I’d get into trouble for it but the amount of people who quoted that line over to me in the last 10 years is amazing and I don’t regret it.”
Gough appeared set for a football career when he attended trials at Manchester United of all places, but his romance with City began years earlier.
“I think I became a City fan based on those nostalgic memories of my grandmother’s house near Maine Road as a kid.
“My mum’s always been a City fan and growing up in Bolton, it’s inherent that you hate Manchester United anyway.
“The first time I went to the new place (Etihad Stadium)it was like watching TV, we had such a great view.
“The great thing about the British game of old was you’d have a ground right smack in the middle of terraced houses.
“You still can’t beat passing old dears in doorways, washing their doorsteps as you make your own way to the game, though.”
Badly Drawn Boy plays Beat-Herder on July 19.
By Tony Dewhurst