FORMERLY REMEMBER THE EIGHTIES.COM
HOWARD JONES INTERVIEW [2005]

THIS WEEK SEES THE UK RELEASE OF YOUR NEW ALBUM, 'REVOLUTION OF THE HEART', WHICH IS EXCITING I IMAGINE?

Yes!

IT'S A NEW STUDIO ALBUM, BUT SOME OF THE TRACKS HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE, THE TITLE TRACK WAS ON THE LAST 'HITS' COMPILATION AND WAS ALSO IN THE SET AT YOUR TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO...

That's right although the version of 'Revolution Of The Heart' on the album is a revised version - I actually changed quite a few things because I wasn't quite happy with it, I changed a few things for the album version which I think work a lot better, and then there's 'Just Look At You Now' which we've been doing live for quite a while now.

SO HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN GATHERING TRACKS TOGETHER FOR THE ALBUM?

It's been two years really - going into the studio in between gigs and gradually putting it all together...

IS IT A PROCESS YOU ENJOY, PUTTING AN ALBUM TOGETHER?

Yes it is enjoyable and I very much enjoyed doing this album because it's very much going back to my electronic roots. It's almost better in way when you almost define an album before you start that way you kind of know where you're going and you can set off along that course...

IN MY MIND I HAVE AN IMAGE OF HOWARD JONES AS SOMEONE LOCKED AWAY IN A BUNKER, SURROUNDED BY COMPUTERS AND KEYBOARDS MAKING PLINKY-PLONKY NOISES OVER AND OVER AGAIN... AM I CLOSE?

Ummm... well no! I always think of myself as a singer/songwriter and what I'm doing is really communicating ideas and it just so happens that I also love technology. I mean yes, I DO love just sitting around and making new sounds but thats subservient to what I'm trying to do and what I'm trying to communicate; it's really about how you use the technology to communicate an idea..

IT'S A VERY CONTEMPORARY SOUNDING RECORD... HAVE YOU MANAGED TO KEEP IT FRESH AND TO LOOK BACK TO YOUR EARLY CAREER AND MOVE FORWARD?

Well I'm always interested in new technology and new things and at the moment there's an explosion of new software for the computer that recreate amazing vintage synthesiser sounds which we used a lot on the album and that was a lot of fun to do, and the other thing is that I work with a gentleman called Robbie Bronniman who is a techno-wizard and he helps to keep me right on the cutting edge of stuff and has an incredible passion for new technology and has a great brain to get his head around it all...

GIVEN ALL THE STYLES OF MUSIC YOU'VE EXPERIMENTED WITH OVER THE YEARS WHAT MADE YOU MAKE THE DECISION TO GO BACK TO THAT ELECTRONIC STYLE?

Well the last album I did was a collection of piano solos... we'd just done the DVD of the Shepherd's Bush Empire concert and part of that show was the 'retro' section where I recreated what I did pre-1983 and I enjoyed doing that and that was really when I started going towards doing an electronic album again...

IT SOUNDS TO ME LIKE THE ALBUM HAS DONE THAT VERY DIFFICULT THING SO THAT IT SOUNDS LIKE IT'S GOT A FOOT IN THE PAST AND A FOOT IN THE FUTURE...

That's great! At the back our minds we were thinking what if we were making 'Human's Lib' today? What would it be like? And it was sort of having the same kind of mental attitude to the new record - I mean I wasn't trying to make 'Human's Lib' again, but all these years down the line what would it SOUND like if we were making it again? And the new album does use some cheeky references to 'Human's Lib', some lyrical things and also a couple of sounds from then...

FUNNILY ENOUGH I NOTICED THAT VINCE CLARKE, ON THE LAST ERASURE ALBUM SEEMS TO HAVE RETURNED TO THOSE... THOSE FAT, CHUNKY BEATS AND SOUNDS THAT HARK BACK TO THEN BUT SOMEHOW SOUND UPDATED...

Yes, I think that's a good way of putting it - updating those sounds...

TALKING OF 'HUMAN'S LIB' - WHEN YOU MADE THAT FIRST ALBUM DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA OR EXPECTATION THAT IN TWENTY YEARS OR SO YOU MIGHT STILL BE DOING THIS?

Ummm... blimey! I tell you, I really wasn't thinking in those terms, I think that when you're in your twenties you just don't think like that... I do now, I think what will I be doing in ten year's time but then I think I was just so pleased to be doing what I had always wanted to, that I was just thinking about the next album and thinking 'am I going to be able to keep it going?'...

I think I knew that at any moment it could disappear and evaporate so I'm very pleased that I've come this far; not with the same level of fame or recognition but actually that really suits me and I can now just get on with my work really. My goal now is to make my work available... I don't have to be on TV and I don't have to be on the radio but I want it to be available to anyone who wants it.

HAS YOUR PAST SUCCESS PUT YOU IN A POSITION WHERE THERE IS NOW LESS PRESSURE ON YOU FROM A FINANCIAL POINT OF VIEW SO THAT YOU HAVE MORE FREEDOM TO DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?

Well I think now that, as artists, we can now be very much more independent... I mean now I don't have the backing of a major label and in fact have my own label, D-Tox, for licensing my work, and I have my website and it's all very much an independently run thing... so yes, I don't have massive financial pressures and I don't have to make hundred thousand pound videos, but everything I do I really want to be of the highest possible standard so if it takes a year and a half to make a record then whatever it takes. There's no compromise on quality and I fiercely defend that - I don't want to just chuck out records just because I know I have a loyal following who will buy them - I want them to get the highest possible quality. People are always asking me for tracks that I don't use but the thing is I haven't used them because I don't think they're good enough and so you won't hear them and I won't be releasing them.

DO YOU ENJOY THE WHOLE BUSINESS SIDE OF RUNNING D-TOX?

Well... there's not much to do really. I have this fantastic guy called Glenn Kelly who runs the website and you know, he's brilliant... I talk to him a few times a week about things and then I just get on with making sure I've got the music coming through and doing the shows, and my management company do all the things like getting the licences around the world and everything so I don't really deal with anything - that's not my thing at all.

DO YOU EVER FIND THAT NOT HAVING A RECORD COMPANY LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDER MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT TO ACTUALLY FINISH THINGS...

I think you have to be driven by your own desire to do things and I think that is actually harder to do then when you have someone saying that you have to do this by then... but that's exactly the kind of authoritarian lifestyle that I don't want to live. I want to be motivated by doing my own thing and as an artist I feel that I'm very active - so I'm writing constantly and working on new projects and I still feel an incredible motivation.

PRESUMABLY THE PROCESS OF RELEASING A RECORD BEING WHAT IT IS, THE 'REVOLUTION OF THE HEART' ALBUM HAS ACTUALLY BEEN FINISHED FOR SOME TIME NOW?

Yes... I'm already working on the next album now - I've pretty much written it and I'm just working on a way to record it... it's not going to be like this album; I do all types of different things and that's how I keep my own interest. I want variety in my work and the next album will be a collection of songs that will be quiet and acoustic I expect, but I'm not sure yet... it might be that it will have an electronic element to it but I haven't yet decided how to approach it. I've got eight songs written - actually nine if you count 'White Flag' which everyone seems to like and seems to think I should record...

THAT WAS THE DIDO SONG THAT YOU COVERED FOR THE 'HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME' TV SHOW WASN'T IT?

Yes, and for some reason it particularly suited me and it's probably worth doing, so then I've got one more song to write and then work out the best way to record it and I'll have another album ready to go sometime next year...

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT WRITING AND RECORDING A SONG?

Well it really depends on the type of music it is - with the 'Revolution Of the Heart' album it's not like conventional writing; it's not like you write the songs first and then go into the studio to dress them up. Because it's so electronic it has to be written as you evolve the track and the sound will influence how it goes, like an organic process - you start off with a beat or something that sounds amazing, often I just have a huge chunk of music that I started on, and then just chop it into some sort of form and then write around that and I use a piano a lot for that and then it kind of mutates. But then the next album I'm going to do, all the songs will be completely written and it will be just about arranging and recording them, it really depends what sort of style I'm working in!

IT SOUNDS LIKE A VERY STUDIO/INSTRUMENT BASED PROCESS - NOT SO MUCH FLASHES OF INSPIRATION IN THE BATH OR IN THE CAR...

It's very much about responding to sound and what a sound creates and then writing a song around that... for me that is!

IS IT FRUSTRATING FOR YOU TO BE WORKING ON THAT WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY TO BE TALKING ABOUT THE CURRENT ONE?

Oh no... no, I'm really, really proud of the new record and I think it's maybe one of the best albums I've done and I'm very happy to talk about it!

YOU'RE ALSO PLAYING LIVE A LOT AT THE MOMENT AREN'T YOU? YOU'VE PLAYED LOADS OF SHOWS RECENTLY AND THERE'S MORE SHOWS BEING ADDED TO YOUR SCHEDULE ALL THE TIME...

Yes, I love to play and I love to perform... there's two parallel things going one, one had there's the full-on electronic show which i love doing, and then there's the acoustic shows which are very intimate and much more sort of 'behind the scenes' looks at the songs, and I'm very fortunate because people do tend to like both things...

I THINK IT'S GREAT FOR AUDIENCES TO BE ABLE TO SEE THOSE SIDES AND I'M GUESSING THAT FOR YOU IT MUST BE GREAT TO BE ABLE TO PLAY BOTH THOSE SIDE...

It is, it's absolutely wonderful to be able to be able to do both...

A LOT OF PEOPLE EMAILED ME QUESTIONS FOR THIS INTERVIEW AND THE ONE THAT CROPPED UP ALL THE TIME WAS 'WHEN WILL YOU PLAY A CONCERT IN MY COUNTY?'...

In my position it's really difficult... I am performing gigs all the time but it depends on your profile in each country, it depends on the promoters needs... sometimes they only want big artists who are going to fill big places... something that has been happening recently is that enthusiastic people have been organising their own shows and for me that's fantastic because I get to work with people who really care about me and work so hard and really do it as a labour of love and the shows usually are fantastic as a result, so maybe that's an answer to that question, if people really want me to come they might have to think about organising it themselves, but I am constantly performing anywhere we can make it work and I would love to play shows everywhere... and I like the idea of people organising shows because it's the corporate model that I don't like; it's not very humanistic and things that are real and not based on hype I really do get a tremendous joy out of them...

TOUCHING ON WHAT MUST HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST EVER SHOW FOR A MOMENT... WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF PLAYING LIVE AID?

We were on tour in America at the time so I had to fly back and I was completely jet-lagged and didn't know where I really was, but it was a fantastic day and I don't think we'll ever be able to beat it... I met so many people that day, people I'd always wanted to meet like Paul and Linda McCartney and David Bowie...

I THINK FOR OUR GENERATION LIVE AID WAS OUR MOMENT - IF YOU ASK ANYONE WHERE THEY WERE FOR LIVE AID DAY THEY WILL REMEMBER... IN MY CASE I WAS PARKING CARS IN A DEBENHAMS CARPARK AND IN YOUR CASE YOU WERE PLAYING LIVE TO BILLIONS OF PEOPLE!

It was a great example too of how amazingly kind people are and I hate it when people sum up the eighties as one thing; as a time when it was all about greed - I absolutely detest that... as if a whole generation of people were just interested in themselves, it's just not true and Live Aid was a great example of setting the record straight for the decade.

YOU WERE WELL KNOWN IN THE EIGHTIES FOR BEING A SPOKESMAN FOR VARIOUS VEGETARIAN AND ANIMAL RIGHTS CAUSES, ARE YOU STILL INVOLVED IN THOSE TODAY?

Well I'm still a vegetarian, I'm a bit loathed to be involved in the sorts of things that animal rights activists are doing at the moment - I find it absolutely disgraceful and sickening to be honest... I still very much support those things but with respect for all life and human life first of all. I think that if you can't respect a human being then you can't respect animals...

ON AND OFF YOU'VE ALSO BEEN WORKING WITH ALL SORTS OF OTHER PEOPLE... PARTLY THROUGH D-TOX AND PARTLY OUTSIDE THAT, NOTABLY YOUR WORK ON THE LAST SUGABABES ALBUM... IS THAT SOMETHING YOU LIKE DOING, ALMOST HIDING BEHIND OTHER PEOPLE...

Well I enjoyed working with them because they're such great girls and I think that the track that we did with them was the edgiest track on the album - I thought it was much more representative of what they were actually about, but really now I have so much work of my own now that I won't be looking for that kind of work... unless someone really makes a big effort perhaps, but I've really got enough on at the moment with my own work... the trouble is that those things always take you away from other things you should be doing.

IS THERE ANYONE YOU'D LIKE TO PERFORM WITH OR RECORD WITH?

Not really no, I just feel the definition of an artist is that you do what you do and that is your function. If I was a keyboard player or a bass player then I might have ambitions to play with people but I don't really have that and I know that I want to do my own thing and that I want to encourage other people to do the same... to be what they are which is unique individuals... to be happy with who you are and that is how I would define an artist...

AND THAT NEED FOR INDIVIDUALITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN A THREAD IN YOUR WORK HASN'T IT? FROM 'THROW OFF YOUR MENTAL CHAINS' TO NOW...

(laughter) Exactly... you've got it!

WHAT SORT OF THINGS DO YOU LISTEN TO? NOT JUST FOR INSPIRATION OR 'WORK' BUT GENERALLY?

Well I've put all my albums onto iTunes and I've got around 10,000 songs on there and I tend to just put it on shuffle mode - it's got everything on there; classical music, hip-hop, rap... it's got everything - it's a very eclectic mix. I love listening to all types of music but there's only really two artists at the moment that really stand out for me and that's Rufus Wainwright and Robbie Williams - I think he's a true artist, I mean he's a tortured soul but his lyrics are so good and his dedication to his work is so great... so those two people right now...

DO YOU MAKE AN EFFORT TO KEEP UP WITH MUSIC OR DO YOU JUST COME ACROSS THINGS AS AND WHEN...

Well I don't go down to the record shop and buy the top ten every week or anything - I do it in a natural way; I listen to the radio, I listen to what my kids listen to and they are huge consumers of music, and I listen to my own collection but I tend to let things find me and then get really into it...

WHAT IS SUCCESS FOR YOU NOW WITH THIS NEW ALBUM?

My life hasn't gone the way that I have a huge record company behind me putting a ton of money in so my aims are really just for it to be available, in as many parts of the world as possible and we have done pretty well with that already... obviously the website is the first place you can get it and then there are licensing deals around the world... but making it available is the goal and what happens then is really up to people desire to have it and it's not up to me to thrust it or force it or push it on anyone... I'm not a pushy person and I've never been one so it really has to be about people wanting it, and to me that's real and because you have to make a bit of effort to get the album once you have it (laughs) you'll appreciate it more. There are statistics that say that one out of every three albums bought are never listened to, one is only listened to once and I don't really want my music to be like that...

WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU?

I'm thinking about the next album as I said, and I've got to record that and work out the best way to do that and then loads of gigs - there's loads of shows set-up for next year and I want to play and perform as much as I can all over the world and really put 100% effort into that... I just love this and I have such a passion for it that I just want to be doing it for a really long time...

OCTOBER 2005

© RememberTheEighties.com / 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.