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HEAVEN 17 (GLENN GREGORY) INTERVIEW [2008]

THE HUMAN LEAGUE, ABC AND HEAVEN 17 IS PRETTY MUCH A DREAM BILL FOR FANS, WHO'S RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WHOLE IDEA OF THE THE STEEL CITY TOUR? WHO DO WE HAVE TO THANK?

Well the idea has been talked about for quite a few years now, we realized it was a great idea to get the 3 bands to play on the same bill and we all have at some point played together but never all 3 on the same stage. I don't really think there is one person you could thank… I suppose a great big group hug of all 3 bands and all the managers would be the best thing to do.

WHAT WILL BE THE HEAVEN 17 LINE-UP FOR THE TOUR? IAN CRAIG MARSH SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISSING IN ACTION (OR INACTION!) FOR A WHILE NOW, WILL HE BE ON THE TOUR?

The line-up for us will be a new one for this tour it will be myself and Martyn with Billie Godfrey and Mesha Bryan on BV's with a newcomer Joel Farland on electronic percussion and Asa Bennet on keyboards and guitar. We've yet to start rehearsals so have not yet decided on what songs we'll be playing. Ian is busy doing something on his own and won't be joining us on the tour...

HEAVEN 17 STARTED PLAYING LIVE VERY LATE IN THEIR CAREER, LOOKING BACK DO YOU WISH YOU HAD STARTED PLAYING LIVE EARLIER?

The honest and simple answer to that question is yes… but the thing is it's impossible to say what might have happened if we had played live earlier… I might have completely hated it by now and never want to sing those songs again, so I'm just happy that we are gigging now.

I must say I absolutely love it and am always amazed at the fantastic reaction we get, especially when we play songs like 'Temptation' or 'Let Me Go'… I think 'Let Me Go' is my favourite song to sing actually - or maybe 'Come Live With Me' - I'm working on a new version of 'Penthouse and Pavement' to perform live at the moment, and that's sounding pretty good too!

I SUPPOSE THAT BY NOT PLAYING LIVE FOR SO LONG YOU MISSED OUT THAT WHOLE CIRCUIT OF PLAYING HORRIBLE TINY PUBS... BY THE TIME YOU STARTED PLAYING LIVE HEAVEN 17 WAS VERY WELL KNOWN WASN'T IT? WAS IT A BLESSING OR A CURSE DOING YOUR GROWING UP IN PUBLIC AS IT WERE?

I did play quite a few horrible pubs back in the day, although not as Heaven 17, so yes I am glad we didn't have to do all that. I suppose I have The Human League to thank for that; after the split Virgin Records just carried on with both halves of the original band and I walked into a ready-made deal and infrastructure so it was all very painless. Although I did have quite a hard act to follow...

I'M PRETTY SURE THAT YOU'VE PLAYED ON A BILL WITH ABC BEFORE, BUT HAVE HEAVEN 17 AND THE HUMAN LEAGUE EVER PLAYED TOGETHER BEFORE?

Yes we have played together but only once, and that was in Bournemouth at a big School Disco live night, and it was really good fun… lots of school girl dressing up and waving their grown up bits at us! All very entertaining, if not a little off-putting, when you're trying to remember your words…

YOU'VE ACTUALLY RECORDED WITH MARTIN FRY HAVEN'T YOU? SO I ASSUME YOU AND MARTIN ARE FRIENDS, WHAT ABOUT YOU AND THE HUMAN LEAGUE?

Yes I'm good friends with Martin, he's really good fun and also such a fantastic showman. I'm really looking forward to spending time with him on the tour, he really makes me laugh. As I live in London now and Phil, Joanne and Susan live in Sheffield I very rarely get to see them, but the tour will sort that out... I'm sure we'll all have a ball!

HOW MUCH RIVALRY EXISTED BETWEEN THE HUMAN LEAGUE AND HEAVEN 17 BACK WHEN HEAVEN 17 WERE STARTING OUT? DID YOU ALL FEEL YOU HAD SOMETHING TO PROVE? DO YOU THINK THEY DID?

The first Heaven 17 album and the first post-split Human League album were both recorded at the old Human League studio in Sheffield. We used to split the time and Phil and Adrian would do days and we would do nights. It was really funny actually… I don't think there was any animosity or rivalry that was anything more than fun really.

I have always been a huge Human League fan and a big fan of Phil's voice, so all I wanted to do was make sure I sounded as good as him… you'll have to ask him if I achieved that!

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE ABC TRACK? A FAVOURITE HUMAN LEAGUE TRACK?

Ohhh that's a hard one… I can listen to the first three Human League albums and think every song is my favourite as it starts! I guess I always loved 'Louise' but then I love 'Being Boiled'... and 'Night Clubbing'… of course 'Don't You Want Me'… OK, I'm going with 'The Sound Of The Crowd'… I think!

For ABC... well again there's so many brilliant tunes. 'Tears Are Not Enough' I think is one of the best, and 'When Smokey Sings' but I do really like 'Skyscraping' from the album that I worked on with Martin.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOUR SET ON THE TOUR? ALL THE FAVOURITES I GUESS, BUT ANYTHING ELSE? WILL YOU BE BRUSHING THE DUST OFF ANYTHING OLD OR TRYING OUT ANYTHING NEW?

Well I don't want to give too much away, but we might be dusting a off a few from the attic and maybe working out new ways of performing old favourites... although there are some that just need to be done in the way that people remember them and want to hear them again.

I keep trying to work out a way to do 'I'm Your Money' but unfortunately haven't been able to make it work for live as yet… still trying though!

DOES YOUR HEART EVER SINK AT THE PROSPECT OF GOING OUT AND PLAYING ALL THE OLD HEAVEN 17 STUFF AGAIN AND AGAIN?

Not at all… as long as the audience love 'em so do I! I even sit down and play them on guitar sometimes and it's amazing how different they sound on an acoustic guitar. That doesn't mean we'll be doing Heaven 17 unplugged…. that's not a bad idea though… hmmmm...

IS IT POSSIBLE THAT ANY OF THE SHOWS WILL BE FILMED FOR A STEEL CITY TOUR DVD OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT?

I think it would be a real missed opportunity if it doesn't get filmed. We've not yet had any production meetings but I will put it on the agenda!

WHAT ELSE ARE YOU UP TO AT THE MOMENT? WILL THERE BE ANYTHING NEW FROM HONEYROOT? ANY NEWS ON MARTYN'S BEF PROJECT? UGLY EVEN... IS THERE A CHANCE YOU'LL DO MORE WITH THAT?

Honeyroot yes… in fact I have just sent a file of the new single 'It's All Good' to be mastered. It's coming out mid August I think… and it sounds great I promise! Martyn is supposed to be working on a new BEF project but he's such a busy lad that I don't know when it might be ready… I'll give him a nudge later! As for Ugly, I'm afraid not. It will always and forever be that one release.. I don't even have a copy you know?

IS THERE THE CHANCE OF ANY NEW HEAVEN 17 MATERIAL AT ANY TIME SOON?

We are thinking about putting together something for the tour. At this stage we're looking at maybe recording some of the new versions of old tracks that we will perform, and maybe a few brand new tracks, and perhaps a couple of covers. It's all still at the talking stage though... actually, isn't it about time for a new mix of 'Temptation'!?!

JULY 2008

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