FORMERLY REMEMBER THE EIGHTIES.COM
ERASURE (ANDY BELL & VINCE CLARKE) INTERVIEW [2007]

WE'RE HERE TO TALK ABOUT YOUR NEW ALBUM 'LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD', BUT BEFORE WE GET ONTO THAT I'D JUST LIKE TO GO BACK ONE STEP TO 'UNION STREET' YOUR ACOUSTIC ALBUM FROM LAST YEAR... HOW MUCH DID GOING DOWN THAT ROUTE AFFECT THE NEW RECORD?

VINCE CLARK - I think it just made us want to do an electronic record again! It was a great experience to work with all those musicians and to not have the pressure of writing every single melody line, every single bass-line or even the pressure of knowing if the song was good enough to include on the album. But we did it and it was a great experience but it did make us want to make this record as an electronic record and perhaps it's made the record even more electronic because there was no consideration for using any acoustic instruments on this record at all. You try these different things and you come to know what you really enjoy doing and what is interesting to us is what we started out doing...

IT IS A VERY ELECTRONIC RECORD ISN'T IT? A REAL FULL ON POP-DANCE ERASURE RECORD. DO YOU KEEP UP WITH DANCE CULTURE AT ALL, OR CONTEMPORARY MUSIC IN GENERAL? IT DOES SOUND VERY CONTEMPORARY...

ANDY BELL - Yeah I do, but it's mostly through shopping on iTunes really... you just think of the name of a track, go to the track and then you find all these different versions by people which then leads you somewhere else. There's one album called 'Blow Up' which came out in 2006, electronic sounding with real bass and stuff and there was a track on it by Debbie Harry called 'Uncontrollable Love', a fan had given me a really rough version on demo CD, and this was the finished version which led to people like Alden Tyrell and there's a track called 'We Like Moroder', and anything that's got Moroder in it I'll have! So there was all that sort of thing and then when we were writing I would go to Vince, 'oh I've got these tracks on my iPod, listen to this', and we'd have a listen to something to create a vibe, just to get going with the writing...

DID YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WANTED THE ALBUM TO BE BEFORE YOU STARTED WORKING ON IT?

VC - Well we wanted it to be an up-tempo album, we were sure about that... we had this idea after the last Erasure tour - prior to the acoustic - to play live but to make it into a disco and then bloody Madonna ripped us off! We were going to have the whole thing with the lights and the mirror ball and everything, and we were going to do all the old songs....

AB - And which we ARE still going to do!

VC - Yeah we are... like a remix type of tour...

AB - But old Madge pipped us to the post!

VC - But we still wanted to keep the record up-tempo.... our songs were getting slower and slower and slower as we were getting older and there was a real danger that we might just stop, zero tempo, no bpm's!

HOW DOES THE WHOLE WRITING PROCESS WORK FOR YOU NOW, WITH YOU IN THE USA VINCE, AND ANDY IN THE UK? IS IT A CASE OF SENDING MP3'S BACK AND FORWARDS OR SOMETHING?

VC - The writing we did together...

AB - Yeah, Buddha had to go to the mountain!

VC - I've just had a baby so I was kind of stuck in America, so Andy was kind enough to spend six weeks over there, in Maine.

SO A NICE QUIET PART OF THE US THEN? NOT REALLY THE SETTING FOR SUCH A UPBEAT ELECTRONIC ALBUM...

AB - Well it's a bizarre thing because we did the acoustic album in Brooklyn which is the home of electroclash and then we go and do an electro album right in the middle of the woods in Maine... Portland, Maine by the seaside.

I GUESS YOU'VE SORT OF ALREADY ANSWERED THIS BUT HOW MUCH DOES THE PLACE AFFECT THE RECORD?

VC - I think that if you're in a nice place, a nice environment, and you're feeling good in yourself and you're at peace then I think that comes across in the music, but it's not like we were recording the sounds of birds outside, or crashing waves or anything, but just to feel at peace...

AB - To feel really healthy... and there's inspiration for the words with the turning of the leaves and stuff like that, and also just being by the sea is fantastic for daydreaming and that's good for the soul, for the melodies and the lyrics. But also because we hadn't written for ages we had all these ideas kind of bubbling...

DO IDEAS KIND OF HANGOVER FROM ONE PROJECT TO THE NEXT... IF THEY DON'T WORK FOR ONE ALBUM DO YOU SAVE THEM UP FOR ANOTHER TIME?

VC - Very rarely, we like to start with a clean slate... no I think the only thing we went into this with was the up-tempo thing.

WHAT COMES FIRST IN THE SONGWRITING PROCESS? IS IT SOME NOISES, SOME WORDS, A TITLE?

VC - We work with a guitar or a piano and a little tape recorder and we just sit in a room and I'll play some chords and Andy will sing a little bit of a melody, and we'll do little sections of melody and maybe compose and record eight bars of chord changes and melody changes and then just jigsaw all the bits together.

TODAY IS THE ACTUAL UK RELEASE DATE FOR 'LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD' - DOES THAT RESONATE FOR YOU, OR HAS THE ALBUM BEEN FINISHED FOR SO LONG FOR YOU THAT IT DOESN'T HAVE QUITE THE SAME IMPACT NOW?

AB - Well I think it's quite exciting but you sort of can't get your hopes up too high. For us it's pure grass roots stuff, fans going out and buying it so you never really know what it will be like... and we have this HMV instore tonight and I'm just hoping that someone's going to be there you know?

YOU CAN'T REALLY WORRY ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE THAT CAN YOU? YOU HAVE AN AMAZING FANBASE...

AB - Well we do, but you never know...

VC - I think we only began to appreciate quite recently really just how loyal people are - I mean you do see the same faces at concerts and stuff but we really didn't appreciate our fans as much in the past as we do now - they're more near and dear to us now... they know more about us than we do!

IT FEELS LIKE YOU'VE REALLY STEPPED UP THE TOURING AND EVERYTHING OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, IS THAT IN PART DOWN TO A RECOGNITION OF HAVING SUCH A LOYAL AUDIENCE?

VC - Well we do tour every album, but we did have a bit of a lull...

AB - I didn't realise it had been so long from after we did 'Erasure' in 1995 right up until we did 'Cowboy' we hadn't been on tour for about three years... I didn't realise that had been so long!

THE TOURING YOU'VE GOT LINED UP FOR THIS ALBUM IS PRETTY EXTENSIVE ISN'T IT?

VC - We really decided that we wanted to concentrate on America this time round which is why we agreed to do the 'True Colors' tour, because we're playing places and being exposed to an audience that we don't normally reach. Then our manager suggested that we just extend it and go out and do more shows and we really are getting out to places we haven't played for years...

IS TOURING SOMETHING YOU ENJOY?

VC - It's... I just had a baby so it's going to be sad to go away for a time you know? My son gets upset when I leave, he did when I came back here to the UK on Saturday... especially in the mornings when I'm usually with him. But touring is fine, the traveling is really boring and the waiting and hanging around is boring but the being onstage is great, and it's great for your ego!

AB - Once you're onstage it's fine but it's all the lead-up and everything...

I SUPPOSE WHEN YOU'VE DONE THE FIRST WORLD TOUR YOU'VE SEEN ALL THE PALCES YOU MIGHT WANT TO SEE...

VC - Well... you don't really see anything, when you go to places you don't really see anything, you just see the hotel and the airport - I know that's a cliche but it's true!

THE 'TRUE COLORS' DATES WILL BE A BIT OF A DIFFERENT TOURING EXPERIENCE WON'T IT, ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THAT?

AB - Yeah I'm really looking forward to it, and I'm glad it's only 45 minutes because that makes it a great warm-up for us for our own tour, but also just being with Debbie and Cyndi Lauper and seeing The Gossip as well... it should be a good vibe, but it's only fifteen shows so it's not too much like hard work!

DIDN'T YOU JUST RECORD A TRACK WITH CYNDI LAUPER?

VC - Well we kind of did a track...it's still in the making but we did a song that we wrote for this album which we didn't actually put on the album but Cyndi did a duet, she did some vocals for the track and hopefully it will come out... we haven't got the right mix yet so we don't know yet...

IS IT SOMETHING YOU MIGHT PERFORM TOGETHER ON THE TOUR?

VC - No... I don't think so.

WHAT IS THE MOTIVATION FOR YOU TO KEEP ON BEING ERASURE?

VC - The pleasure we get out of doing it... the satisfaction of that you know? You make a record and just go 'God... where did that come from?'

AB - I think about what else I could do... maybe have a bar or something like that, but I think that even if I did I would still have to keep coming back to this!

SO IS COMMERCIAL SUCCESS STILL AS IMPORTANT FOR YOU?

AB - Well it's always nice - when it happens it's lovely... when we had albums at number one we didn't really think about it too much but then that goes away and you start thinking that it would be really nice to have top ten album... but then all these questions start popping into your mind... you start thinking 'Are we being greedy? Aren't our egos satisfied enough?' do you know what I mean? It would be really nice but you don't want to focus all your energy into having a top ten hit...

WHAT'S THE BEST BIT OF THE WHOLE BUSINESS OF BEING ERASURE? I ASSUME IT'S NOT THE SITTING AROUND DOING THE INTERVIEWS!

VC - For me it's the writing... the writing process is just miraculous!

AB - I think it's that you're always learning all the time... for me it's making my voice better, and like Vince says, the writing...

VC - It's very comfortable... we've had uncomfortable moments and it has taken us a long time to really get to know each other...

AT THE BEGINNING I GUESS IT MUST HAVE BEEN VERY DIFFERENT BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T REALLY KNOW EACH OTHER...

VC - Yeah it was, it does take a long time because when you write with someone you're kind of exposing yourself because you put yourself in the position where you're up for criticism from the other person... not that Andy is ever going to say to me 'That's shit' or vice versa, but we now have an understanding such that if one of us isn't one hundred percent behind the idea then the idea gets dropped. I think that's the key to our relationship and our longevity.

SO WHAT'S NEXT FOR ERASURE, AFTER THIS ALBUM AND THIS TOUR?

VC - He doesn't know this yet, but we've been talking about making a nursery rhyme record and I've been thinking that what would be really cool would be to make it really gothic... almost like a Tim Burton soundtrack, and there are some nursery rhymes which are quite sinister but we'll need to write more, so I'm thinking that maybe if you take something like the legend of someone from the past, from Victorian times or something... something like, not Jack The Ripper because that's too severe, but someone like that so we almost write the ballad of such and such, and put that to a dark, gothic film soundtrack. I'd like to to do that....

MAY 2007

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