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I'm fully prepared for people to slag off my music; 7 DAYS PLAYLIST Laurence Fox is putting television sleuthing behind him to concentrate on a fledgling music career. MARION MCMULLEN speaks to the Lewis star about his new album and discovers he's already braced for a critical backlash.

Byline: MARION MCMULLEN

LAURENCE Fox is happily ticking items off his bucket list ... starting with the release of his debut album.

It's taken him two or three years to write and record all the tracks, but Holding Patterns comes out next month and Laurence cannot wait.

"I'm very excited, really excited," he says with a happy laugh. "I can't wait to see what people think and whether they like it. Weirdly I'm not feeling nervous at all. It's done now and the most important thing is that I like it, if you know what I mean. I really wanted to get the album out. It's been a fulfilling experience. I can tick it off the bucket list."

Among the first people to hear Laurence's musical output were his wife, pop star turned actress Billie Piper, their children Winston and Eugene, and his own parents.

"Family are honest," he says. "If you play things to a stranger they are likely to go 'that's brilliant,' but family are honest. Some tracks they love and some they don't. You can't please all the people all the time. My Dad (actor James Fox) has been very approachable and very supportive as well.

"We have the same existential struggle. The album has taken two or three years so it's quite precious."

Laurence is one of five children and is part of an acting dynasty that includes his uncles actor Edward Fox and theatrical and film producer Robert Fox. His cousins Emilia and Freddie Fox and his sister Lydia are also established actors.

Laurence and Silent Witness star Emilia signed up last year to Bear Grylls' Mission Survival on ITV and were challenged to survive in the South American jungle with celebrities like Dame Kelly Holmes and singer Jamelia.

| Laurence, with wife The tough challenges included crossing a crocodile-infested river, drinking their own urine, hunting for tarantulas to add to the cooking pot and gutting a fresh pig carcass for a team meal.

Laurence is best known on TV though for playing DI James Hathaway in ITV crime drama Lewis. Together with Kevin Whately as Lewis, the ninth series of the Inspector Morse spin-off ended last year with Lewis heading off to Australia with his new partner forensic pathologist Laura Hobson leaving Hathaway in Oxford to cope with any future killing sprees among the famous dreaming spires.

pictured Billie Piper The end of Lewis has given Laurence time to work on his music, although at the same time of Holding Patterns release he will be back on stage playing Charles De Gaulle at London's Park Theatre alongside Tom Conti as Nazi collaborator Philippe Petain in the world premiere of The Patriotric Traitor, written and directed by Jonathan Lynn.

"Everyone's thrilled about the timing," he jokes. "I'm actually on my way to having my hair dyed and my moustache dyed for the part. My wife is going to America in 10 minutes and then I have some radio to do. It's one of those busy days."

| With Kevin popular TV " The 37-year-old is not worried if he comes under critical fire for daring to try to develop a music career alongside his acting one. "I'm sure there will be many nay-sayers," he says. "I come fully thick-skinned for mass slagging off. I don't mind if anyone has an opinion at the end of the day as long as they hear the album first.

He says hearing his debut single Headlong played on BBC radio for the first time was a surreal but very rewarding experience and reaction to his music so far has been very positive.

Laurence first posted his songs on Soundcloud back in 2012 and they quickly racked up many thousands of plays.

Whately in the drama Lewis Spurred on by the online encouragement and live performances, he released his debut EP, Sorry For My Words, the following year. It charted in the iTunes top 20 and garnered support from BBC Radio 2. Now Laurence has finally recorded some of the songs he has quietly been working on for years. Headlong has been played in heavy rotation on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show and he also performed the track live on the Dermot O'Leary Show recently.

He's looking forward to doing a series of promotional gigs to tie-in with the album release and is no stranger to live music. He performed at Glastonbury in 2013 and says that was far more nerve wracking than any acting role he has ever done. "It's very exposing and I was very nervous," he says, "going back to Glastonbury is on my bucket list as well."

So what else is on that list? "Going to America is one that we've not done yet. We've got kids so we'll have to see."

Laurence has also auditioned and been screen tested in the past to be a Bond villain and says he would still enjoy turning up and causing some serious mayhem for 007 in a future movie.

"I don't plan too far ahead. You never know what's going to happen. There's no point. You can have all that energy going into waiting for what's going to happen in the future.

"I think it's time now for the howling of the fox."

| Go to laurencefox.co.uk for album details.

CAPTION(S):

| Laurence, pictured with wife Billie Piper

With Kevin Whately in the popular TV crime drama Lewis
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jan 24, 2016
Words:897
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