CONSIDERING his contribution to the British music scene over the years, Nick Lowe is wonderfully self-deprecating.

Next weekend he comes to Manchester with his Quality Rock and Roll Review featuring the American band Los Straightjackets.

“I haven’t done a British tour for 15 years or so,” he said. “So I really do not know what is going to happen or if anyone is going to show up. It is my own fault as I have neglected playing here so I really don’t know if people think that I’ve dropped off the perch or what have you - we’ll have to see.”

Now 70, Nick was at the forefront of the new wave scene being one of the key performers with the Stiff record label. He produced the likes of Elvis Costello and Graham Parker and has written many songs including I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass, Cruel to Be Kind and I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll), a major hit for Rockpile.

For his new tour he has teamed up with the men of mystery Los Straightjackets - a band who all wear Mexican wrestling masks.

“They are so worth seeing in their own right,” said Nick. “I’m a pretty lucky fellow to get hooked up with them.”

Following the release of his last album, the Christmas themed Quality Street in 2013, Nick was rocked by the sudden death of two of his closest musical collaborators, drummer Bobby Irwin and producer Neil Brockbank.

“That rather took the wind out of my sails and I thought that was it for making records,” he said. “I thought that side of it was over for me. But when I teamed up with the Straightjackets it seemed to make sense as a small independent businessman to demonstrate that the shop is open and to have something on the merch table.”

He released the EP Tokyo Bay last year and for the current tour has produced a second EP, Love Starvation.

“I’m not deluded enough to think these records could have any really serious success but they will certainly make a fine souvenir of the evening,” he laughed.

Ask Nick how he sees himself and he is very definite in his response.

“I think of myself as a songwriter for hire. I’m a hack really,” he said. “But it’s a bit like having a craft that’s dying out like dry stone walling or thatching a roof.

“It’s the craft of songwriting that interests me, I’m definitely more of a craftsman than an artist.”

As someone who has spent much of his life writing songs, Nick is the ideal person to shed some light on to what most of us see as a dark art. Or maybe he won’t....

“The older I get the more mysterious it becomes,” he said. “When it comes to ideas for a song, you don’t know how to turn it on or indeed how to turn it off.

“Some of my pals who are songwriters find they get better results if they work at it. They go to work every day and lock themselves in a room.

“Sometimes I go to Nashville on writing trips and you will meet someone in the morning who you have never met before and work business hours and write a song together. It’s a curt handshake and then you are thrown together trying to make this thing work.

“I do enjoy the Nashville trips but working that way in general doesn’t work for me. I have to wander around until I get an idea.

“I can remember when I was younger I used to panic like mad - I was under a lot of pressure in those days - and would grab the first idea that came into my mind. You’d force it through to make a song but it wasn’t great. You just have to relax and let it come – at least that’s how I do it.”

For his current tour with Los Straightjackets Nick will be performing some of his newer songs but he admits he’s quite prepared for them to take a life of their own when they hit the stage.

“It’s funny how a song changes,” he said. “You try and cover all bases when you make the original recording but after you’ve played it live for a while it’s amazing how subtlely it changes.

“Songs will get a life of their own or they just don’t want to work. Occasionally you get one that’s not got enough to it.

“The good ones have a little bit of grit in there; something to make a pearl. Sometimes they seem like they are pretty good but fundamentally they are flim flam, You can’t really second guess it.”

Nick Lowe and Los Straightjackets, RNCM Manchester, Sunday, June 9. Details from 0161 907 5200 or