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B-MOVIE (STEVE HOVINGTON) INTERVIEW [2014]

FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE NEW ALBUM 'THE AGE OF ILLUSION' WHO ARE B-MOVIE IN 2014? SPECIFICALLY, WHO WROTE AND RECORDED THIS ALBUM?

The line up on Age of Illusion is the original line-up myself on vocals & bass, Paul Statham on guitar, Rick Holliday on keyboards and Graham Boffey on drums. In our original incarnation we last played together in the USA in 1982. The split was a little acrimonious but time is a healer and we all got back together again for a reunion show at the Metro in London in 2004 and still loving making music together and have been playing live off and on since.

We decided that whilst it's great to play all the old stuff, the creative urge to make new, exciting music still burned strong. After playing the Wave Gothic Treffen festival in Leipzig Germany a couple of years ago we met up with Rainer from Genetic Music who was keen to work with us and decided it was time to make a new album which felt like a new beginning. The album was mainly written by myself and Paul Statham. I suppose we're the heart and soul of it. We love the same music and of course go back along way so it was a very natural process.

IT'S BEEN QUITE A WHILE SINCE THE FIRST B-MOVIE ALBUM 'FOREVER RUNNING' CAME OUT... ALMOST THIRTY YEARS IN FACT, HAS THIS ALBUM BEEN ON THE CARDS THAT WHOLE TIME?

I've always wanted to record an album with the original B-Movie so yes I suppose it's always been in the back of my mind and finally the time was right for it to come to fruition. 'Forever Running' had some good moments but it missed some of the ingredients that made B-Movie special and had that OTT mid-80s production. The original line-up surprisingly never made an album together. Rick and Graham were part of the classic Some Bizzare era sound and over the last few years we've not only become good mates but got better musically too. We still felt we have something to offer and enjoyed playing and making music together. So why not?

I KNOW THAT THE B-MOVIE NAME HAS POPPED UP EVERY NOW AND AGAIN OVER THE LAST TEN YEARS OR SO AT LEAST, PLAYINGS GIGS HERE AND THERE AND THAT SORT OF THING, DID THE BAND EVER STOP OR HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN BUBBLING AWAY FOR YOU?

The band stopped in 1986. Eighteen years later we reformed in October 2004 for a show at The Metro in London. It was something I had been wanting to do for a while. I'd been writing about my experiences in the band and it was such a great story, and there seemed to be unfinished business. I think we were all old enough to bury the hatchet and after a few emails and phone calls we met up in Nottingham and it was just like it was the first time around. We play a couple of shows a year mainly in Nottingham, London, Spain and Germany. Last year we did a short UK tour. It's not a full time career as you can imagine, we all have other commitments but it's got more serious since we made the new album.

WHAT WAS THE WRITING AND RECORDING PROCESS FOR THE ALBUM?

Paul would send me backing track ideas he'd worked on in his studio and I would then come up with lyrical ideas and melodies. I'd also send him ideas that I'd been working on at home. We recorded the drums at a studio in Milton Keynes and Rick did most of his keyboards in Nottingham. The album was mixed by Paul at his studio in London. It was a collaborative effort by everyone. It took around 2 years to complete from start to finish.

'THE AGE OF ILLUSION' IS AN INTERESTING ALBUM FOR ME BECAUSE IT SOUNDS LIKE IT WAS MADE IN THE 80S BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT SOUNDS VERY CONTEMPORARY, DID YOU DELIBERATELY SET OUT TO REFERENCE THE PAST IN THE NEW MATERIAL?

It's what we do best. Our template really is the post punk era - bands like Simple Minds, Foxx era Ultravox and Magazine. We've played quite a bit in Germany and I think that's worn off a bit, so there are elements of modern dark electronic rock in there too. There's one song on the album 'Echoes' which references Bowie and there's a line which goes ' fast forward then rewind, press play unleash the flood of time.' - it's really about fusing old and new elements together and that great songs never go out of date. There's a post punk grandeur about that one.

WHEN I REVIEWED THE ALBUM I IDENTIFIED SOME OTHER ACTS THAT I THOUGHT WERE USEFUL POINTS OF COMPARISON TO THE SOUND OF THE ALBUM, SPECIFICALLY EARLY SIMPLE MINDS AND JOHN FOXX AS MUSICAL COMPARISONS, AND THEN JOHN FOXX AGAIN, ALONG WITH HUGH CORNWELL AS VOCAL COMPARISONS... IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU MIGHT BE COMFORTABLE WITH THOSE?

It's hard not to be really. The late 70s/early 80s were a very exciting time in music and we wanted to get back to the essence of why we got going in the first place - that fascination with technology, though not being ruled by it, big melodies, music on a big scale that's imbued with romanticism and imagination. The stories on the album are told from a fifty-something perspective but still reference the pursuit of dreams and far off places which is a trait of mine. The bands you mentioned are heroes of ours. I'm honoured to be compared to John Foxx and I am a fan of the Stranglers though others in the band are not so keen.

WHO WERE YOUR EARLY INFLUENCES? WHICH BANDS AND ARTISTS MADE YOU WANT TO START THE ORIGINAL B-MOVIE?

We formed back in 1978 so post-punk bands with an arty edge like Ultravox!, The Cure, Wire, The Only Ones, Gloria Mundi, OMD were influential. Bowie and Eno too of course. As we developed our sound we consciously and subconsciously began to assimilate influences from elsewhere, bands like The Doors, early Floyd and Hawkwind!

DO YOU THINK THAT B-MOVIE GOT WRONGLY LUMPED IN WITH THE FLEDGELING ELECTRONIC MUSIC SCENE? YOU WERE MANAGED BY STEVO WHO COMPILED THE FUTURIST CHART IN SOUNDS AND NATURALLY GOT INCLUDED AS A RESULT, AND THEN YOU WERE ON THE SOME BIZZARE COMPILATION ALONGSIDE DEPECHE MODE AND BLANCMANGE AND PEOPLE, AND YOU TOURED WITH DURAN DURAN... YOU EXPERIMENTED WITH ELECTRONICS BUT DID YOU EVER CONSIDER YOURSELF PART OF THAT SCENE?

Everything happened so quickly. We released a couple of indie singles on a local independent label which led to a play or two on the John Peel show. We were just one of many new bands emerging at the time. It was quite disparate with no real focus but we were aware of what was going on and were ambitious to break out of the Midlands. Stevo put a name to this scene and we were happy to appear in his Futurist chart alongside The Human League and Throbbing Gristle. Even though we were quite conventional in line-up we were into the spirit of experimentation. Our problem was that we were more interested in the music than fashion, which soon took over. We were never comfortable with the new Romantic tag though it has to be said we went along with it mainly forced by the record company. I think we were just a bit too introverted and intense for that scene.

I THINK I READ SOMEWHERE THAT SOFT CELL ONLY GOT THEIR RECORD DEAL BECAUSE THE RECORD COMPANY WANTED TO SIGN YOU GUYS, AND YOUR MANAGER INSISTED THAT THEY HAD TO TAKE BOTH BANDS, IS THAT RIGHT?

I honestly don't know. An urban myth I think. Certainly we were signed before Soft Cell and our first single did much better than theirs but you'll have to ask Stevo. I hate to think of us as the fall guys. I'm sure Soft Cell would have been massive anyway with or without B-Movie.

YOU'VE BEEN PLAYING GIGS SPORADICALLY OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO MORE? OR EMBARK OF ANY SORT OF FULL TOUR?

We have a show in Birmingham on May 3rd with special guests Blue Zoo. Then we're off to Germany in July for a one off show. After that we have no plans. I'm sure there will be more gigs but I doubt there will be a full tour.

FINALLY, YOU'VE WRITTEN A BOOK HAVEN'T YOU? WHICH SOUNDS LIKE ROCK AND ROLL MEETS THE WORLD OF WINE-MAKING... CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THAT?

In late summer 2006, I was sitting in a mate's back garden feeling bored and slightly worse for wear, when I suddenly had a eureka moment and announced to my friends that I was going to make my own wine with my name on the label. The motivation was really that I wanted to replicate the feeling of when i made my first record with B-Movie - the thrill and excitement of producing something yourself that bears your name. The book charts my attempts to make the dream a reality. I also decided that it would be fun to include excerpts from my career in music to illustrate the journey from rock musician to winemaker, so there are flashbacks to the recording session of 'Remembrance Day', live experiences in Spain and America and then the come down after as I had to face up to reality. I did succeed in the end and I still have a couple of bottles of the wine. It was just a mad idea but a great adventure and something I would love to do again. The book is HERE, note that I am wearing a B-Movie t-shirt on the cover shot!

B-MOVIE - The Age of Illusion (2014)

B-Movie's new album 'The Age of Illusion' is available now.

APRIL 2014

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