Bitter Sweet Chippy Tea

The Verve's lead singer Richard Ashcroft

The Verve's lead singer Richard Ashcroft

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A staple item of countless trips to the local chippy has an unexpected celebrity fan in the shape of one of Wigan’s most famous musical exports.

Ex-Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft revealed the fish and chip establishments offering pea wet and gravy are one of the things he misses most about life in the borough.

He also spoke about his love of down-to-earth North West communities forged during his upbringing in Wigan during a candid online interview ahead of the release of his new solo album These People.

St Helens music journalist John Doran, who conducted the interview, took the singer best known for his band’s hits including Bittersweet Symphony on the trip down memory lane by asking if he missed Wigan and the region where I grew up.

Ashcroft said: “I’ve been on searches round London for gravy-making chip shops for years.

“Back in the day if you didn’t have enough you could get half of everything, so chips, half the gravy and pea wet, that lovely little sprinkling of juice that didn’t cost you anything.

“Salt and vinegar was a freebie as well so why not cake the top of the scallops with three inches of salt?

“I miss the loves, the contact. My mum being a hairdresser as a kid I was always in the shop amongst people.”

Ashcroft also spoke about his band’s early gigs as a student at Winstanley College, saying it was then he established his attitude towards performing which still holds true for his live shows today.

He said: “The hardest gigs in the world for anyone starting are those in front of your peers, the worst haters in your college and your town.

“I decided from day one I would confront that head on. Instead of being a lamb to the slaughter you’re the lamb and I’m going to slaughter you.

“Even now when I go on stage it’s more like a boxing fight for me than a cakewalk where we’re all going to have a great time together. It’s a mental and physical challenge.

“The hunger comes from the odds being stacked against you and I fed off that. It’s a classic ‘don’t tell me where I’m going’.”

Ashcroft spoke about his new album These People, which he said was about having a clearer idea of his own artistic vision in a fast-changing world suffering from “the decline in freedom of speech and the arts”.

He also revealed his ambition to collaborate with Liam and Noel Gallagher from Oasis on a musical about their youth and paths to success.