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ERASURE (ANDY BELL) INTERVIEW [2009]

I HAVE IN FRONT OF ME A COPY OF 'TOTAL POP - THE FIRST 40 HITS' AND I HAVE TO SAY, JUST LOOKING AT THE TRACKLISTING, THAT IT'S AN INCREDIBLE LEGACY... HOW DOES IT FEEL FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW TO HAVE ACHIEVED SO MUCH?

It's great isn't it? I mean to be honest I can't even believe it really! I've just taken a bit of a break from Erasure, about a year and a half, and I'm glad I did because it has put everything into perspective for me, what a great songwriting partnership Vince and I have together. Also, with a lot of the tracks - especially the latter tracks - we've been playing them so much on tour in the UK and across America and everywhere and because they haven't always set the charts alight it's easy to get a bit down in the dumps about them. But with this album, when I listen to them back all in one go with a bit of perspective I just think wow, this is really great work! I think it's really high quality work, it's not like we've ever just done something and not really cared about it.

DO YOU THINK ERASURE HAS REALLY GOT THE RECOGNITION IT DESERVES? THE RESPECT?

There's something our manager always says, and that's that we've kind of always been there in the background, and I think in some ways people do just sort of take us for granted. We're always there and we're easy to kind of slag off in lots of ways, because people always like to have a good old moan, but I just think that the works speaks for itself really...

DO YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL FAVOURITES?

Yes, I really love 'Stay With Me' and 'In My Arms' and 'Rock Me Gently'... the slower ones!

ARE THEY FAVOURITES BECAUSE YOU LOVE THE SONGS OR BECAUSE YOU'RE PROUD OF YOUR OWN PERFORMANCES ON THEM?

I think it's both. I really love the tunes, and they're great to sing. I think that's the thing, when you look forward to singing them live, when you look forward to having the chance to kind of sell the song through the performance.

I THINK THAT MAYBE IT TAKES A RELEASE LIKE THIS, WHERE YOU JUST SHOW HOW SUCCESSFUL YOU'VE BEEN, TO MAKE PEOPLE REALISE EXACTLY WHAT YOU'VE ACHIEVED...

I think maybe sometimes people just get a bit fed up with us and think 'oh it's just another Erasure song' so yeah, I think it does help to present our work in one go like this.

AND DESPITE PEOPLE BEING DISMISSIVE OF 'JUST ANOTHER ERASURE SONG' YOU DO HAVE AN INCREDIBLY LOYAL FANBASE OUT THERE DON'T YOU?

Oh yeah, they're really great!

I GUESS THAT MOST OF THEM WILL ALREADY HAVE PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING ON 'TOTAL POP!', BUT THE 'POP! REMIXED' EP IS CAUSING A LOT OF EXCITEMENT FOR THEM...

I'm quite surprised how well it's been going down actually because you know how things go, you kind of have to wait until it's your turn again, it's all very cyclical, and now all of a sudden electro is the next big thing again!

YOU AND VINCE HAVE BOTH DONE MIXES FOR 'POP! REMIXED' HAVEN'T YOU? IS THAT SOMETHING YOU ENJOY DOING?

I love it, I really do. It's almost like working with a completely different palate, and because I'm not singing on them I can kind of do what I like. I really love sounds, electro is in my blood and I love dance remixes anyway because I do a bit of DJ-ing and I really like it and it's nice when you've created something yourself like that. I keep moaning on at Vince all the time to let me into the studio and let me have a go on all the synthesisers, and I think he is slowly coming round and warming to the idea!

I DON'T KNOW IF HE'S EVER PAID YOU THE COMPLIMENT, BUT I INTERVIEWED VINCE ABOUT THE YAZOO PROJECT AND WE WERE TALKING ABOUT ALL THE NEW YAZOO REMIXES THAT HAD BEEN DONE AND HE TOLD ME THAT HE THOUGHT YOUR REMIX WAS THE BEST OF ALL THOSE NEW MIXES!

Ahhhhh, bless him!

DID YOU SEE ANY OF THE YAZOO SHOWS BY THE WAY?

I did, I saw the show in Brighton and I saw the second show in London but for me the Brighton show was the best one... it had a great vibe and was very emotional, really moving. I got applauded when we walked in and I wasn't expecting that and it was very nice, and I got a namecheck from Alison for lending her Vince!

IS IT POSSIBLE THAT YOU AND VINCE MIGHT DO REMIXES TOGETHER, MIXES FOR OTHER PEOPLE, UNDER THE ERASURE NAME?

Sure yeah, if someone wanted us to, that would be a really interesting thing to do.

WHEN WE SET THIS INTERVIEW UP I MENTIONED IN MY EMAIL NEWSLETTER THAT I WAS TALKING TO YOU AND ASKED PEOPLE TO SEND IN ANY QUESTIONS THEY HAD FOR YOU, AND LOTS OF THIS INTERVIEW IS TAKEN FROM THOSE QUESTIONS, BUT I WAS STRUCK BY HOW MANY PEOPLE MENTIONED HOW MUCH ERASURE HAS TOUCHED THEIR LIVES, THE IMPACT YOU'VE HAD ON PEOPLE...

It is really lovely when I meet people and they tell me their stories and everything. To be honest it's quite hard to take it on board really, but I do feel that if a certain song has touched somebody in a certain way then that makes the song worthwhile. It's really nice, and I'm really proud of it, but you do have to keep your feet on the ground!

WHERE THERE ANY ARTISTS WHO TOUCHED YOU IN SIMILAR WAYS WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP, OR WHO STILL DO?

I would say not so much now, but people like Kirsty MacColl and Kate Bush and Blondie still do that, and there's always odd songs here and there that I really love... I love Sinead O'Connor at the moment and I hear things here and there that I like and things I've forgotten that I find again and go 'oh wow' all over again!

DO YOU EVER TAKE THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU MIGHT BE NOW IF ERASURE HADN'T HAPPENED?

No, I don't think about that really. I think I would probably still be doing music and I would have wormed my way in somewhere else. If I hadn't met Vince and was still struggling then I'd probably have tried something like 'The X Factor', something like that!

A FANTASTIC QUESTION THAT SOMEONE SENT IN ASKS WHAT SONGS YOU SANG WHEN YOU AUDITIONED FOR VINCE RIGHT BACK WHEN HE WAS PUTTING ERASURE TOGETHER?

That was two songs, 'Who Needs Love (Like That)' and Vince thinks the second one was 'My Heart So Blue'. I always thought it was a track he originally did with Paul Quinn, 'One Day', but it wasn't, it was 'My Heart So Blue'... it actually got released on 'Buried Treasure 2'...

AM I RIGHT IN THINKING THAT AT ONE STAGE YOU WERE WRITING AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY?

No... Paul (Andy's manager) was writing a book and it does have an Erasure chapter although it still hasn't seen the light of day. I think he's waiting until he feels comfortable publishing it because there is quite a lot of dark stuff in there.

BACK TO 'TOTAL POP!', THERE'S A DVD PART OF THE DELUXE EDITION FULL OF OLD TV PERFORMANCES, HOW IS IT FOR YOU WATCHING YOURSELF LIKE THAT?

To be honest I couldn't watch them, we had the management going through everything and picking the best ones, because for me it's just too much... kind of like looking at an old photo album of yourself and staring at the pictures for ages and ages. Sometimes you get a bit scared and you don't want to see yourself back then, when you were so innocent and stuff, and you don't want to be reminded of how you were or the person you've turned into! It's that whole 'if you only knew then what you know now' thing!

I SUPPOSE I COULD ASK THE SAME QUESTION ABOUT THE LIVE TRACKS ON THE THIRD CD, I MEAN YOU'VE TOURED A HUGE AMOUNT AND BEEN PRETTY MUCH EVERYWHERE BUT WHAT SORT OF MEMORIES DOES IT STIR UP FOR YOU?

Well I can't always remember! If a tour was filmed that I can kind of remember it from that, but I think what they've done with the DVD is they've made it look like one concert which brings Erasure through the years and up to date, but I can only really remember bits and bobs of it, where we were at a particular time and things like that. If I actually sat down and watched it all the way through then it might well all come flooding back, especially things like the Milton keynes Bowl show which was a show that was tagged on after something like a year and a half of touring and we didn't even feel like we were there then let alone now...

YOU'RE WORKING ON A SOLO ALBUM AT THE MOMENT AREN'T YOU?

Yeah, I'm really just trying to get it finished... it's been a bit hard doing it and I have stalled quite a few times. I worked with a few people and I didn't feel like it was going right with them so I had to stop and find new people to work with, so it has all been a bit up and down but thankfully I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel now! I've been doing some stuff with JC who worked with Erasure on 'Nightbird' and I've got a meeting coming up with Pascal Gabriel so I might be finishing it all off with him..

IN AN IDEAL WORLD WHEN ARE WE LIKELY TO HEAR SOME OF THAT?

Well, hopefully by the end of the year I think, maybe toward the end of Autumn. I hope so because Vince and I are supposed to be getting back together then to do some writing and stuff so it would be quite nice to be doing both things at once, that sort of spurs me on a bit, having a few things going on at once.

DOES THE SOLO WORK GIVE YOU THE CHANCE TO DO THINGS THAT YOU CAN'T TRY IN ERASURE?

Yeah... I can't help being pop but it pushes me more into a dance area which I really like and maybe it's also a bit darker than Erasure would be.

AND YOU TOUCHED ON THE FACT THAT YOU'RE GETTING BACK TOGETHER WITH VINCE LATER IN THE YEAR, IS THAT FOR NEW ERASURE MATERIAL?

Yes it is, and I'm so looking forward to it. Like I say, with this solo poject having been a bit up and down it really makes me appreciate Vince... with us it's just so easy, we just get on with it and we don't have to pay anyone else or anything like that, it's all just really easy with him!

WILL YOU DO THAT IN AMERICA?

Probably yes, Vince has his new studio up in Maine and I can already hear how excited he is, just doing the remixes and things that he's been doing...

ARE YOU ABLE TO GIVE AN IDEA OF WHAT SORT OF DIRECTION THE NEW ERASURE MATERIAL MIGHT TAKE?

Not really no, because the way it works in Erasure is that we write the songs first and then take them into the studio, but I am kind of hoping that this time we might be able to create a few things in the studio, you know? Working up some sounds and then getting inspired by those sounds, which is something I do when I'm working on my own. I just get some sounds going with the people I'm working with and just grab a mic and sing along and see what comes out!

AND IS THERE THE POSSIBILITY OF ANOTHER ERASURE TOUR ON THE BACK OF THE NEXT ALBUM?

Hopefully in 2010 yes, we've had a show offered to us in Dallas in Spring 2010 with a 200 piece choir although it does depend on whether we can get everything together in time, but hopefully there will be a tour around that...

YOU'RE KNOWN FOR PUTTING ON SOME GREAT TOURS, GREAT PRODUCTION VALUES AND EVERYTHING... IS THAT A PRESSURE ON YOU AT ALL? HAVING TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING BETTER EACH TIME?

No it hasn't become a pressure, the thing that gets hard is how to keep it exciting with just the two of us, how to create a show out of thin air really! Something we have talked about doing is a kind of remix tour with different versions of songs, we'd like to try that. Also I'd quite like to do something that is very surreal and theatrical, it doesn't have to be 'Bedknobs & Broomsticks' but something quite strange and twisted and weird! There's lots to look forward to!

FEBRUARY 2009

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