But he's got a tough side too – he refused to cancel a string of shows despite breaking his leg!
The horror accident happened earlier this year when Richard slipped coming down the stairs at a friend's house in Barcelona.
"I snapped my fibula like a twig. I was nearly sick when it happened," recalls Richard. "They put me on all these painkillers and when I came round I went 'Am I dead'?
"The band explained they were going to cancel the tour and I said 'No, let's do the gig'. There were 80,000 people in a square in Barcelona, I got wheeled on and then moved to a drumstool, and it worked fine!
"The thing is we got the tour done. We did the Latitude festival and Elbow were on after us, and Guy Garvey wheeled me on wearing a yellow high vis jacket.
"We looked like the couple off of Little Britain! You just have to get on with it, though. A lot of musicians these days cancel gigs if they break a nail."
The Sheffield singer visits Glasgow on Friday to play the Barrowland, and is thankfully in better health now.
His album Standing On The Sky's Edge is one of the year's best records and deservedly netted a Mercury Music Prize nomination, letting Hawley have another crack at an award he was "robbed" of in 2006, according to eventual winners The Arctic Monkeys.
His new album sees guitars taken centre stage, along with an angrier tone. For Richard, it was a record that he wanted to strip back to basics.
"It was just two guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, so that when I was in with the rest of the band you could see the whites of their eyes in the recording studio."
It's a harsher album than much of Richard's previous work, but ties in with how he consistently wants to challenge himself and attempt new things.
That means the 45-year-old tends to stick to his guns, something he's not sure the younger generation of bands do.
"I do find it interesting that in modern times no-one would dare to write I Am The Walrus or Strawberry Fields or Riders On The Storm, or even Bohemian Rhapsody," he says.
"A lot of young musicians are being told that you need to do this and this to get a hit – I guess it depends on what you want to achieve and whether you're prepared to compromise.
"I've never been very good at compromising. I think the word compromise is one of the dirtiest words in the English language."
Collaboration is a word he approves of, however. Having previously worked with everyone from girl group All Saints to guitar great Hank Marvin, he's now got two Scottish partnerships on the cards.
I'VE been working with Sharleen Spiteri of Texas (inset) and doing some things with Edwyn Collins," he says.
"With Sharleen it's just writing songs for the fun of it. They're thinking of doing another record at some point so they might surface there, and with Edwyn it's for a film project, but that'll be announced later in the year."
l Richard Hawley, Barrowland, Friday, £20, 7pm.