FORMERLY REMEMBER THE EIGHTIES.COM
HEAVEN 17 (GLENN GREGORY) INTERVIEW [2012]

YOU NEVER PLAYED 'THE LUXURY GAP' LIVE WHEN IT WAS FIRST RELEASED IN 1983 DID YOU? BUT YOU DID PLAY IT IN ITS ENTIRETY AT THE ROUNDHOUSE IN LONDON LAST YEAR… IS IT DIFFICULT RECONNECTING WITH THOSE SONGS - PARTICULARLY THE ONES YOU DON'T GENERALLY PLAY LIVE - AFTER A THIRTY YEAR GAP?

It's great to finally play these songs live for the first time, especially the ones that we don't normally perform. It was a challenge to work out how exactly we would program the tracks up, and make them sound as near to the originals yet fit into a live contemporary format. We did about half of the tracks each and I made sure Martyn got the most difficult ones. He had the joy of 'Lady Ice and Mr Hex' for example!

WHEN YOU DID RETURN TO THE ALBUM FOR THAT SHOW, AND YOU HAD TO SIT DOWN AND LISTEN TO IT AGAIN WITH NEW EARS, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?

Connecting with the tracks after such a long time was no problem at all, in fact after the reprogramming and the rehearsals the songs felt as new and fresh as the day they were written. It's strange but when you do go back and deconstruct the songs and then rebuild them, you notice parts that you had just forgotten were there… maybe lost or turned down low in the final mix… it's a very enjoyable process. I really think the songs benefit from such close re-attention.

FOLLOWING ON FROM THE LAST QUESTION, HOW DIFFICULT IS IT FOR YOU TO LISTEN TO THE ALBUM "NORMALLY" OR IS IT MORE A CASE OF LISTENING IN A PRODUCTION WAY, AND WORRYING ABOUT HOW TO REPRODUCE EVERYTHING LIVE?

Good question. The thing is normally I wouldn't listen to these albums as a whole. It is only the fact that we have had to go in and take a really close look at them to be able to play them live that made me listen. To be honest it was a pleasant surprise, they sound really good!

WHEN YOU TOOK 'PENTHOUSE & PAVEMENT' OUT ON TOUR A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO YOU HAD A WHOLE PRODUCTION, MULTI-MEDIA SCREENS AND ALL THAT SORT OF THING, ARE YOU DOING SOMETHING SIMILAR FOR THIS TOUR?

We certainly are. The whole look of the show is really important to us both and we will be utilising the screens again, and hopefully it will be a great visual show.

I TALKED TO MARTYN JUST BEFORE THE 'PENTHOUSE & PAVEMENT' SHOWS AND IT SEEMED LIKE HE OVERSEES THAT WHOLE TECHNOLOGICAL PRESENTATION SIDE OF THINGS. HOW DO YOU DIVIDE THE WORK OF HEAVEN 17 BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU, AND WHAT DO YOU GENERALLY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR?

Mart does everything. I just turn up and sing!

I'M PRETTY SURE THAT BACK IN THE DAY I HAD 'PENTHOUSE & PAVEMENT' ON ONE SIDE OF A CASSETTE AND 'THE LUXURY GAP' ON THE OTHER, AND THERE WAS QUITE A BIT OF SPACE AFTER BOTH ALBUMS. WHAT WILL YOU BE PERFORMING IN ADDITION TO THE ALBUM TRACKS TO BRING IT TO CONCERT LENGTH? WILL IT BE A KIND OF EXPANDED EDITION WITH B-SIDES AND UNRELEASED TRACKS AND EVERYTHING?

Yes I think I remember that double-album cassette thing. I was once in Saudi Arabia and I bought a double cassette of 'Penthouse and Pavement' and I was quite surprised to find that it had half of the tracks on it and then some random Spandau Ballet tracks. I think it might have been a bootleg… we won't be playing any Spandau tracks this time round however, but we are still looking into what extra tracks we will perform. I can promise you though there will be surprises. Maybe a few never-heard versions of our tracks and even some Heaven 17 versions of early Human League songs, although not 'Don't You Want Me'!

MARTYN TOLD ME THAT 'PENTHOUSE & PAVEMENT' WAS BORN OUT OF 'A SENSE OF INJUSTICE AND REVENGE' AFTER THE WHOLE MESSY HUMAN LEAGUE SPLIT. DID THOSE THINGS FUEL THE MAKING OF 'THE LUXURY GAP' TOO OR WAS THE LANDSCAPE VERY DIFFERENT BY THEN?

That's right. 'Penthouse and Pavement' was done in a rush of excitement, revenge and bravado but by the time we got round to writing the demos for 'The Luxury Gap' the whole lay of the land had changed. We were all living in London by that time and the cultural differences between Sheffield and London certainly went some way to influencing the tracks on 'The Luxury Gap'. Music technology was moving forward fast as well, and we were eager to be at the head of all those changes and that also had an impact on the tracks. I still remember the day Ian came in to the studio with his Fairlight. "How much!" I said, "You could have bought a new flat for that…"

WHAT SORT OF AN EXPERIENCE WAS IT ACTUALLY MAKING 'THE LUXURY GAP'? YOU WERE MAKING IT AT A TIME WHEN EVERYONE SEEMED TO BE MAKING ELECTRONIC MUSIC AND YOU KIND OF GOT BUNDLED IN WITH THE COMMERCIAL END OF THAT WHOLE 'NEW ROMANTIC' SCENE… WAS ANY OF THAT A PRESSURE? TO COMPETE WITH WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON, OR TO MAKE A RECORD THAT STOOD OUTSIDE THOSE EXPECTATIONS?

We were never really a part of any 'scene' in fact we pretty much kept to ourselves really. We certainly didn't feel any pressure to sound or look like any other bands, and if anything we would have tried very hard not to sound like any one else. I think we were just different. We worked in an unusual way, we wrote in an unusual way and we recorded in an unusual way… we were not a normal rock and roll band. I think we might be getting there now though!

I HAVE A FEELING THAT YOU'VE GONE ON RECORD SAYING THAT 'LET ME GO' IS ONE OF YOUR FAVOURITE HEAVEN 17 TRACKS, DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER FAVOURITES FROM 'THE LUXURY GAP'?

Yes 'Let Me Go' is my all time fave Heaven 17 track, but 'Come Live With Me' is a close second. I love 'Key To The World' - which is still as relevant today as the day it was born - and I adore 'Lady Ice And Mr Hex', one of the most elegant drug related songs I can think of. It really is a good album, no wasters or fillers, just close to the bone good tunes.

YOU PROBABLY GET ASKED THIS EVERY TIME YOU DO AN INTERVIEW, I KNOW I'VE ASKED ABOUT IT BEFORE, BUT WHERE ARE YOU AT WITH THE IDEA OF DOING NEW HEAVEN 17 MATERIAL AT THE MOMENT. THE ANSWER NEVER SEEMS TO BE AN OUTRIGHT 'NO' SO WHAT NEEDS TO BE IN PLACE FOR THAT TO HAPPEN?

It's a hard one that… I, we would love to spend time on some new Heaven 17 tracks but it's a different world now, do people even still want new Heaven 17 songs? Answers on an electronic postcard please! We do have half-written half-baked ideas around and I'm pretty sure that one day soon we will actually do it… there I've said it!

HEAVEN 17 - THE LUXURY GAP [2012]

TOURDATES

OCTOBER
23 - O2 Academy Liverpool / 24 - O2 ABC Glasgow / 26 - O2 Academy Newcastle / 27 - O2 Academy Sheffield / 29 - O2 Academy Birmingham / 30 - O2 Academy Bristol

NOVEMBER
1 - O2 Academy Bournemouth / 2 - O2 Academy 2 Oxford / 3 - O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London / 10 - Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg / 11 - Fabrik, Hamburg / 12 - C-Club, Berlin / 13 - Live Music Hall, Köln / 14 - Anker, Leipzig / 16 - Forum, Bielfeld / 17 - Het Depot, Leuven

OCTOBER 2012

© ThisIsNotRetro.com – Not to be reproduced in any form without written permission. Link to the site but please don’t steal our content – thank you for your understanding and support!

WOULD YOU LIKE TO COMMENT?

You will need to log-in (on the right hand side of the page) to post a comment.

© 2002 - 2017. THIS IS NOT RETRO / REMEMBER THE EIGHTIES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.