Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The Human League return after a ten year gap with the irresistible ‘Night People’. An outrageously catchy burst of suburban disco pop with some of the after dark urban drama of classics like Sound Of The Crowd, this is a track that bridges the gap between the League as influential forebears and a bang-on-the-button 2010 contemporary call to arms to clubbers all over the world, whatever decade they first danced in.
The Human League are probably more highly regarded in 2010 than they were in 1981 when they released their landmark album Dare. They’re used to everyone from Madonna to Moby, Pet Shop Boys to Robbie Williams, citing them as an influence. Now the dubstep generation – notably, the acclaimed Darkstar, who cover the Leagues 1982 B-side You Remind Me Of Gold on their current album – have begun to pay homage to the original synthphonic sound of Sheffield.
Then there are the ‘L’ girls, the new generation of synth-driven female pop artists, who have got in on the League-adoring act: La Roux is a known admirer of the electro pioneers, while Little Boots is such a fan she requested Philip Oakeys input on her debut album. Even Lady Gaga professed to be a devotee when she met the fabulous Human League girls on tour recently.
But not surprisingly for a group who were famously described by David Bowie in 1979 as “the sound of the future”, indeed the band themselves were once known as The Future, The Human League have never been about resting on their laurels or relying on past glories to see them through. Which is why, in March 2011, they will be releasing their 10th studio album Credo, as brilliant a distillation of their ideas about pop and dancing, glamour and electronics, as anything they have ever done.
Credo is part of that particular pop lineage that goes from Bowie, Roxy and Kraftwerk to Donna Summer, Chic and Michael Jackson to Lady Gaga, Usher and Girls Aloud. Supremely infectious chart pop music with a twist of subversion. Credo manages to makes itself heard above the brashest state-of-the-art pop productions and brings some of that primitive essence to the milieu, as well as The Human League’s unique quality of apartness.
A nothing less than brilliant remix package accompanies the new single – see below for list and quotes from the remixers on The League …
"Being part of the night people myself, since the early days of disco, I have to say that I really enjoyed adding my French touch by doing a remix of this dedicated song by The Human League. Long live the night people”
"I heard the rumours earlier in the year that Wall of Sound had The Human Leagues record and hassled them all summer to get the parts to 'Night People'. It's classic HL and Philip's voice hasn't changed at all. I tried a few different things and ended up hearing the song as a 4/4 glam rock stomper”
“The Human League has and still is a permanent inspiration in my music. The first time I ever attempted a remix as a teenager was ‘Mirror Man’, I did this using a pause button on an old tape deck. I still have the pause button re-edit somewhere. So to get the opportunity to re work The Human Leagues new single was fantastic, I love Philips voice, its one of them voices that has always sat so perfectly in the mix with synths. I wanted the Emperor Machine mix to sound like a disco version of 2 early league Lp’s ‘Reproduction’ and ‘Dare’ but with a modern EQ. Job done!”
“We are so honoured to remix one of THE bands that inspire us... Tracks like ‘Things That Dreams Are Made Of’ or ‘Being Boiled’ are Villa classics! Night people we are....”
The Human League – Night People is released on 22/11 followed by the remixes on 06/12. The Human League are on tour from November 29th – full dates on the band website.
Courtesy of Wall Of Sound
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
HEAVEN 17: History Will Repeat Itself
Interview with MARTYN WARE
Photo by Tracey Welch
The HEAVEN 17 renaissance continues... following a well received collaboration with LA ROUX for BBC 6Music and not one, but two TV specials featuring the triumphant concert at Sheffield Magna and The Story Of Penthouse and Pavement, Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware are about to embark on a full UK tour celebrating their landmark debut album after a successful European excursion earlier this year.
Martyn Ware of course was a founder member of THE HUMAN LEAGUE before leaving with Ian Craig Marsh to form the production company BRITISH ELECTRIC FOUNDATION (BEF). With its pop subsidiary HEAVEN 17 featuring Glenn Gregory, the success of Penthouse and Pavement and The Luxury Gap with its international hits Temptation and Come Live With Me led to it becoming the priority project over at BEF Head Office. Simultaneously though, Ware was able to maintain a successful production career which over the years has taken in artists such as TINA TURNER, ASSOCIATES, TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY, ERASURE and MARC ALMOND.
He later founded Illustrious with Vince Clarke to exploit the creative and commercial possibilities of 3D sound technology. Through Illustrious, he also conceived Future Of Sound, a not-for-profit organisation to provide a forum for the discussion of new and convergent art forms. Among those involved are HEAVEN 17's guitarist/programmer Asa Bennett and artist Malcolm Garrett, best known for his album artwork for DURAN DURAN and SIMPLE MINDS.
As part of the 30th Anniversary celebrations, the homecoming show at the Magna featuring the Penthouse and Pavement album and the extended cut of The Story Of Penthouse and Pavement are released as a double DVD package. Featuring additional BEF cover gems Perfect Day and Wichita Lineman alongside Ball of Confusion sang by Billie Godfrey and These Boots Are Made for Walking featuring PROPAGANDA's Claudia Brücken, Strong Films have successfully captured the evening's vibrant performance including the futuristic LED screen projections where a variety of visual artists were given free reign to interpret HEAVEN 17 and BEF's music of distinct quality. These digital videos have been included as bonuses along with rehearsal footage to give a unique multimedia insight into this special live presentation.
Also being released is a deluxe 3 disc collector's edition of Penthouse and Pavement featuring a CD demos from 1980 with versions of songs from the 'Pavement' side predating the Linn Drum Computer. These showcase a unique hybrid funk driven by crashing early HUMAN LEAGUE style rhythm sounds. In addition, there are alternate mixes of instrumentals like Music To Kill Your Parents By, Uptown Apocalypse and A Baby Called Billy from the BEF Music For Stowaways sessions.
In the midst of a busy promotional schedule for the Penthouse and Pavement tour and its related artefacts, Martyn Ware took time out to talk to The Electricity Club about his career and the resurgent interest in HEAVEN 17.
How was it playing Back To The Phuture night at Bestival in September? I understand you played And That's No Lie?
It was an amazing event actually. We did an hour with Elly from LA ROUX on Radio Bestival or whatever, so that was before we even went on stage, that was quite fun. It was in a big top, we headlined that night. It's kind of a warm-up because the main days are Friday, Saturday and Sunday but there was like 8500 people there. The big top was completely full but more to the point, it was about 90% people under 30 and they all got it. It was not a shock as such but very heartening to see that people were digging it and presumably, most of them weren't familiar with a lot of the songs!
Elly from LA ROUX joined you on stage for Sign Your Name. Are there any plans to work together in the studio?
We're constantly talking about doing stuff. It's not so much us. Elly, she's writing a new album and I think she's trying not to be too distracted. But we are intent on working together. Obviously at some point, we've still got an intention of possibly re-releasing Temptation with her singing the lead part.
I spoke to your backing singer Billie Godfrey earlier this year and she suggested that Are You Ready? from Before After might be good as a LA SEVENTEEN collaboration?
*laughs* She would do cos she co-wrote it! We love Billie. I do like that song; we've only performed it live once I think at The Scala so we may revisit that. We've got seven albums worth of stuff to pick from so you can't fit everything in, it's impossible!
You have a UK tour this November playing the whole of Penthouse and Pavement. Have you arranged anything different for the forthcoming shows?
Me and Glenn were discussing the tracklisting for the new tour and he put a provisional one together. I looked at it and it was two hours long! Even hardened HEAVEN 17 fans would find it a bit wearing! We do have a lot of stuff and we will do a couple of interesting 'new' things on the tour.
Anything you can give away?
Not yet, we haven't really narrowed it down but we are planning to do at least one track HEAVEN 17 track that we've not done before and then another BEF track.
How did you find touring Europe in your own right earlier in the year?
Photo by Lori Tarchala
Tremendous, it was a lot of fun. It was great touring on a sleeper bus, everyone loved it. Not particularly comfortable but Glenn liked it because he could hold court and it was like being in his own pub travelling around! Of course, I've given up drinking now which is not a good thing when you're touring. It's good fun for us, not a chore and I'm sure we'd think differently if it was like 50 odd dates. A short tour, we look forward to very much. Also, the people we work with are all so professional, a lot of them work with other bands and say they enjoy working with us a lot. It's a nice vibe. It's driven by a love of music and everybody gets on. Isn't that the ideal kind of job to have?
I was at the Cologne show and it was a mad evening that went on for ages due to a few technical hiccups but you really rose to the occasion with Glenn doing a few acoustic renditions. What are your personal memories of that night?
Is that the one where the drum kit fell apart?
Yes, and someone threw some underwear at you!
Oh, I loved that! The underwear was great! The one I particularly remember was Hamburg at Fabric. It was astonishing, just doing loads of encores until we ran out. The reception that we received generally in Germany was just outstanding, we weren't really expecting it. We thought we'd be well received but as a curious pleasure rather than in some cases, ecstatic! So if we get that kind of response on the British shows, we'll be very happy.
Photo by Tracey Welch
Which song did you find the most challenging to recreate for the live environment?
I'm Your Money, it's difficult because it's such a particular sounding record that. We weren't writing songs with the anticipation of playing them live so I'm Your Money is very... say for instance we waved a magic wand and it was exactly the backing track that we did... we can't do because we don't have the original tapes. But if it was exactly the same backing track as we did in the 1981, I think it would really jar on the ear! It's incredibly repetitive and monotonous but on record, it sounds great. So you kind of have to back off on the frequencies that really hurt and really make it work in a different way. What's made it work for us is the brilliance of Julian Crampton on the synth bass; he's given it all sorts of funky inflections. It's leaning toward that FUNKADELIC thing which is great. It wasn't difficult in terms of programming; it was more in terms of vibe.
I've noticed Glenn has a habit of missing his cues live. What's the thing you always hope you don't do during a gig?
Losing my voice towards the end is a big issue because I do a lot of singing, probably more than people realise. The focus is on Glenn obviously and Billie but when are only touring with one girl, which is what we're doing with the Penthouse and Pavement line-up, what we normally use the second girl for plus all the unison and harmonies stuff with Glenn is me and it's tough on the voice. What's particularly tough is the whole monitoring set-up is for Glenn which is fine for him because he's got in-ear monitoring and he's the lead singer so he can have what he wants basically...I normally have to put up with what's left! *laughs* So you can easily strain your voice if you're not careful. It doesn't matter on one-off gigs particularly but on a tour you've really got to be careful.
Have you had any voice training or anything?
No, but I know how to breathe and how to achieve what I want economically and when to do chest and when to do falsetto, what my break point is; and I've learnt through just literally being streetwise about it, what works and what doesn't. Like Glenn, my voice has got more powerful over the years... if we were to sing acappella, I'd out-sing Glenn in terms of volume! Also, I've got a tendency in winter to get chest infections if I'm not careful so it's always an issue for me... it's happened on two tours so far and it's a horrible thing when you have to sing through that! *laughs*
HEAVEN 17's profile had been enhanced by the LA ROUX collaboration and the two Penthouse and Pavement programmes on the BBC including the documentary.
That was amazing! It's an endorsement of the idea that you should just do stuff rather than think about it too much because a good friend of ours, Joe Strong of Strong Films had wanted to do proper HEAVEN 17 documentary about that period of our development for a while. He'd heard all the stories when we were out getting p*ssed and thought it would make a good story. So we did it for our own reasons and we were just going to release it on DVD.
It was just one of those fortunate coincidences. Joe has a lot of contacts in the BBC and at the time, he mentioned to somebody that he just finished editing and this person said "that's good because we're just doing an 80s season on BBC2, would you like to launch it?". Originally, the idea was to have two solid hours of HEAVEN 17 on BBC and we were going "this is insane!", you couldn't buy that kind of exposure! The only other band that's got that kind of exposure this year as a legacy act is THE ROLLING STONES!
Of course, it cost quite a lot of money to push it though and get it all edited and we're still trying to make the money back but the point is, if you show faith in quality material and it's shot well and the story's interesting, it creates a virtuous circle of people having confidence that you're doing things for the right reason. That means a lot in the BBC in particular because they're not so commercially driven, they just want good quality stuff.
And it's led to all sorts for us. It's led to a massively increased amount of live work because we've just signed to William Morris Agency who are huge. And at the very outset from when we signed to them, we said "there's no point in getting signed to a bigger agency if we're going to get lost in their vast slate of artists but we want establish ourselves as credible artists from that period and we want top perform as credible artists, not just some trixy 80's pop band! That's where we want to go, can you help us?" And they said "That's fine, then if you do it properly, we can get you into all sorts of festivals." We've hardly scraped the surface in terms of festivals across the world, we've done a couple in Europe but the rest have been in the UK. We've never yet played properly live in America which is amazing frankly seeing as we had a No1 record in the Billboard Dance Charts in the 80s with Let Me Go.
So we have a vision for the future for the first time in a long, long time. We have a structured plan and we got David Stanbury who's our new manager... we're really putting some effort and money into it. For the first six months of this year, we were running at a loss. But now it's paying back. It's a big thing to do when you don't have the support of a record company, much harder. There's lots of things you can do that don't require big time logistic support like The Electricity Club and lots of other blogs around the world. We've put a lot of effort into it, we believe in what we're doing and we believed what we were doing in the past was really good and we believe that we're good at performing it. So do fortunately, the audience.
How did you convince Phil Oakey to discuss the break-up of the original HUMAN LEAGUE on the documentary?
What it was, we were going up to Sheffield to perform at a charity gig for a friend of ours Dave Kilner from Radio Hallam who unfortunately died. We'd done some filming when Glenn and James said "can't you just ring up Phil?" cos we're mates now. But he's notoriously difficult to contact, let alone get him to approve anything! So they kept bugging me and bugging me. I said I'd give Phil a call and see what happens! I said "we're in Sheffield City Hall... it will take about quarter of an hour, would you come down?". And he said yes! I couldn't believe it! So I took my little flip HD camera, set it up on my home tripod... it came out looking like CCTV footage in an interrogation room which I quite like because we didn't have any proper lighting or anything! But we didn't have anything planned. He didn't say "don't ask me about this", I just asked him as a mate what he thought and he was very candid.
You're working a lot with Mark Jones and his Back To the Phuture brand. Of course, his Wall Of Sound label have signed THE HUMAN LEAGUE... you know what I'm going to ask? Any chance of you and Phil Oakey writing or recording together again?
I don't know, I personally would love to do it. I don't have any issues left. Some of the best creative work I've ever been involved with was writing with Phil, he's a brilliant lyric and leadline writer. What can I say? The first two HUMAN LEAGUE albums Reproduction and Travelogue have some genuinely fantastic moments on them. Still 'til this day, I think things like The Black Hit Of Space and Marianne are unsurpassable in that genre to be honest. I'd love to work with Phil, it might be a bit strange after all these years but I personally would love it.
I understand Phil might be doing a solo album in parallel with THE HUMAN LEAGUE so I don't know if...
... there's an opportunity possibly! Yeah, he seems a lot more open to collaboration now. He's always done a bit before, he did Together In Electric Dreams and that stuff with ALL SEEING EYE at one point but it's good for him to spread his wings a bit because he's got an iconic voice and songwriting style. It's not for me to say but there is a possibility he could work in different environments other than THE HUMAN LEAGUE. Sometimes it's just good to free yourself to do something with no expectations.
So have you got anything going on outside of HEAVEN 17 at the moment?
I'm doing the new BEF album Dark. I'm a bit nervous about saying which tracks I'm doing in case anyone nicks the idea but I suppose I could tell you one of them... last week I just finished Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time by THE DELFONICS. It sounds amazing even though I say so myself, I'm so pleased with it. It's done in a kind of darker fashion.
Are you able to say who's singing it?
I don't know, I haven't got any singers yet, I've just done the backing tracks. I'm still open to suggestions if you've got any ideas! But it has to be either established artists or contemporary artists who are quite high profile, that's the only thing! I've got plenty of people suggesting complete unknowns to me and I just haven't got room for that because I've got to sell some albums. Talent we're not short of but I need to get some famous people on board.
The concept works and I'm really pleased with it. Glenn's obviously going to do it and Martin Fry from ABC's agreed to do one. I've not asked Elly from LA ROUX but I'd be surprised if she said no... and so on and so forth. There are various people, contemporary singers that I like. I really like the singer from EVERYTHING EVERYTHING, I like his voice a lot. I think he might be suitable for something quite dark. I'm thinking about getting some actors in as well. I quite like the Rod McKuen kind of direction or William Shatner, depending on how you look at it *laughs*
Some of them are...some of them are very similar and we just polished them up. But the biggest revelations are the demos that we found that were lost for 30 years literally of Play To Win, Penthouse And Pavement and Soul Warfare which are awe inspiringly different and funky. They sound like 'rare groove' versions of HEAVEN 17. Both myself and Glenn had completely forgotten they existed. Just for those three tracks alone, I was so vibing on that... I think that's worth the purchase price alone. But there's a whole bunch of half baked/half finished experiments, there's about half an hours worth of different experimental tracks that never turned into anything which we found as well which was really exciting. That CD is pretty damn good actually, I must say! And it was all made 'round about this time thirty years ago.
With those three 'Pavement' demos you just mentioned, can I just ask what you were using rhythmically on those because I'm assuming you didn't have the Linn Drum Computer at that point?
No, it was just immediately prior to us getting the Linn Drum so those original demos we'd have been using the Roland System 100. If the whole album had sounded like the 'Penthouse' side, then it would have been based on these demos if you know what I mean. But the guitar and bass playing, this was when we first met John Wilson and there was no pressure on him, he was pouring out... very relaxed playing and super funky! He was a very young guy bear in mind, so we go into a professional studio... he still great on the album but now you can hear the difference. He was very relaxed in Sheffield, kind of loose in that great way but down in Townhouse when we recorded him, he was more pin sharp but not quite as loose.
Can I ask whatever happened to John Wilson?
Yes, you can. He recorded with us for three albums and then he just kind of disappeared. He worked with various people as a session player for a while but he was always incredibly shy, he wasn't made for the rough 'n' tumble of the music business. And I think what happened if I remember rightly is somebody didn't pay him for a bunch of sessions he did. These are the sort of things you have to roll with the punches or else you'll never have a music career, disappointment happens on a weekly basis! But he just couldn't handle it, he was very religious and I think he just thought "I don't want any of this" and went back to his bedroom... I think! For all I know, he might be out there playing, we'd love to contact him and offer him some work.
You were harnessing a lot of new digital technology like the Linn Drum Computer at the time which was one of the distinguishing features of HEAVEN 17 at the time. How did that open up your horizons as to what you could achieve musically for the album?
The Linn Drum became within a day, the new direction... that and discovering John Wilson were the two things that defined Penthouse and Pavement. I just got on well with programming it. It appealed to my mentality because you had to approach it from breaking the song down into bars and then at the end of a section you fill, it appealed to the logical part of my brain very much. It got to the point where I could programme really complex stuff in an hour for a 4-5 minute song. That would be the definitive thing, it's not like "it kind of sounds alright, what shall we do?" because the sounds were very solid and good. They responded to an experienced engineer or producer toughening them up or compressing them.
It was our idea of heaven after subjecting ourselves to desistitudes of live players. Suddenly, we controlled something that sounded kind of real so it was the ideal bridge for us from the purely electronic world to the apparently real world. But it was rhythmic surrealism because there was loads of stuff I could do with the Linn Drum that was physically impossible for a drummer... and that I got criticised by various drummers saying "you couldn't even play that!" But well, that's good because then we're doing something no-one else has ever done before!
So how does Joel McFarland, your live drummer find doing all this stuff?
He regards it as an amazing challenge. He's got a first class degree in percussion from The Royal Academy of Music, he's one of these dudes who could do the EVELYN GLENNIE thing with multiple mallets and stuff. He can play STOCKHAUSEN, all that sh*t! His favourite thing is Linn Drum programming so we've got the actual original sounds and we just put them into his Yamaha brain, the central processing unit for his drum kit and we just wind him up and let him go!
What did you use for percussion on the more electronic 'Penthouse' side, was it an analogue drum machine?
I think it was all System 100 although we did have a Roland TR606 but the sounds were so terrible! And the only other drum machine we had was a Doctor Rhythm.
The subject matter in Penthouse and Pavement is still relevant in the current climate. Musical trends are cyclical but so it seems are politics and economics. What are your thoughts on that?
Incredibly sad! But I've got a funny story for you... somebody on Facebook today said "Can't believe it! Miners are celebrating, Liverpudlians are celebrating! Is Margaret Thatcher dead?" It just made me laugh, it's very good isn't it?
I think what is doubly ironic is one of the lines on the first song of Penthouse and Pavement is "History will repeat itself"... and it has! And oh my god, we've got some suffering to come! I mean morally and conceptually, I fear for the working classes in Britain. I think there will be civil insurrection. And I've lost count of the number of people who say we should reissue (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang!
Are there any plans to take The Luxury Gap out live in the future?
Yes! Glenn in his traditional role as sceptic is 'um-ing' and 'ah-ing' while in my traditional role as 'bull in a china shop' is going "of course we're going to do it"! So it's somewhere between the two. It's looking quite likely that we'll be doing another European series of dates in late Autumn next year. And we almost certainly will do The Luxury Gap there as a trial before we bring it over to Britain.
It's a different kind of album to do live because I think it's going to require an extra keyboard player because of all the brass and the strings. We don't really like putting too much on the backing track, you can end up sounding a bit karaoke if you're not careful. But then it's a cost issue, it's all difficult. For instance, the European tour we did... even though it did very well at the box office, it just about broke even because of the production we were carting around with us. It's a bit more economical in Britain because we'll be selling more tickets anyway. It's fine here but in Europe, you have to show faith and spend a bit of money to break the market.
The Luxury Gap sold a lot more than Penthouse and Pavement, it was more directed at the general public rather than the cognoscenti. That's the definition of popular music, if you can do it intelligently then you've got the best of both worlds. I'm very proud of The Luxury Gap, it a very good album. Musically it's very intelligent, there are certain elements that are superlative frankly like having THE PHENIX HORNS ESQUIRE, Temptation etc. Some of the lesser known tracks work really well, you've got Simon Phillips on drums...
... Lady Ice And Mr Hex is one of my favourites
Yeah, I mean it's a brilliant piece, certain elements of it are serendipitously brilliant but then I'm a big fan of How Men Are looking back on it. I think it's an underrated album and that was when we were probably in our most daring and creative phase. I regard Penthouse and Pavement as the most ground breaking of the albums but that's primarily because of what was going on around it at the time.
I think after How Men Are, several things happened. There was an overall moving away from daring music that was going on in the British music scene towards a more structured marketed thing. We weren't new anymore so the only path we had to go down was carrying on writing good pop songs. And during How Men Are when we were trying to get on Top Of The Pops to do Sunset Now, Glenn exploded his cartilage in his knee on the day we were meant to film that and he had to go to hospital. And nobody but nobody f***ed off the BBC in those days! If you ever f***ed up their schedules, you never got on Top Of The Pops again and that's exactly what happened! Which is really wrong but that's just the way it was! That kind of killed the promotional activity on that album which is a real pity... not abroad but just in Britain.
So consequently when it came to making Pleasure One, we'd lost our confidence a bit because it felt like we were slipping. So we started employing more session players and moving towards a more traditional rock sound. And that wasn't a deliberate decision. We lost confidence not in our songwriting but in the sound that we had, so it like really lost a bit of identity...
... yes, it happened to THE HUMAN LEAGUE, OMD, ULTRAVOX; it happened to the whole lot of you!
We wanted to move on but there wasn't anywhere to move on to from a sound point of view. We couldn't go back to being all electronic, it seemed like we had to keep trying new stuff but in the end, it sounded a bit more old fashioned. Having said that, I think Contenders is one of my favourite tracks we ever did, I really like that. But generally, the album wasn't fantastic I have to say!
And Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho was the nail in the coffin; we'd completely lost our way by then as far as I was concerned! We were retreading some ideas and some of the things we were doing were not working. I think we all knew it had run its course at that point. But ironically, it wasn't that we'd run out of musical ideas, it was just that vehicle because at that time, I was doing TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY's album which showed myself, Glenn and Ian that we'd still got creative ideas but we'd lost focus on what HEAVEN 17 should be at that point.
Photo by Tracey Welch
The break did you good as you came back with Bigger Than America in 1996.
I really like that album, it was our attempt to get back to the electronic sound. I said we've only got one chance to do this 'retro' thing and show people because everyone was in the middle of that 'dance' thing at that time. We thought we'd show them what these original sounds are like in a song context and things like Dive, Bigger Than America and We Blame Love, they're really good.
But you had a setback almost straight away. Any thoughts about how that album disappeared off the radar?
It was bad timing, we signed to an imprint that was owned by the guys who did SNAP! They then basically lost interest in their label about a month after our record came out and it reverted back to Warners in Britain who'd got no interest whatsoever in the album so they just killed it!, They were just terrible, they'd got no idea and didn't particularly like it. It was just marking time really. Which was a pity because there was some good things on that album, it could have been more successful. I think we might re-release it on our website.
You've re-released your last album Before After through the website as a limited edition of 100, each in unique artwork. How did this idea come about ?
What happened was we originally couldn't find anybody to put it out so we pressed some up ourselves to sell it and then it got picked up by another label. But we'd forgotten there were 100 that we'd pressed up that were just sitting around in a box. So these albums are still in the wrapper, we might as well sell these. And then we came up with the idea from seeing an exhibition of an artist who had done 50 different covers for a 12 inch single. And I thought wouldn't it be great to do 100 different album covers and do it as an art piece, signed with a letter of authenticity. It'll help pay for the next album that we make or whatever. And so we did it and it came out really well. They're all excellent, the great thing is people have started going when they get their copy "oh, I've got Number 43 and this is what it looks like... " and because they're all completely different, they post them up on line. It's really nice. We'll sell them at the gigs as well and it'll sell out once we start touring.
Photo by Tracey Welch
What's next for yourself? Will you do another ambient project with Vince Clarke?
We're not going to do anymore new stuff on Mute but there is ten years of Illustrious output which I've never released. So I might do a big boxed set in some interesting format which I've yet to determine.
I love Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle ...
... it's good isn't it? We've got seven or eight hours of this stuff, some of it's really good. I'm sitting on it really because I know somebody will want to buy it eventually. Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle is not facile stuff, some thought went into it and it's beautiful... it's not whale song or terrible spa music! And that album was rendered in binaural so it does mess with your head when you listen to it on headphones.
I'm just negotiating doing a Future Of Sound event in Sydney Opera House next June which is going to be called Future Of The Centres. I'm probably going to compose a new piece for that together with various other artists. I've been talking to The British Film Institute about doing a soundtrack to a quite important Russian science fiction film from the 1920s which I can't reveal what it is. That would almost certainly be on at the BFI in the middle of next year. I'm looking at various other compositional stuff with the BFI where they're re-examining what was new over the years. I'm hoping to be the music curator for that. There's quite a lot of stuff coming up.
The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Martyn Ware
Additional thanks go to Peter Noble at Noble PR and Kayleigh Watson at Name PR
The deluxe 3 disc collector's edition of Penthouse and Pavement is released by Virgin Records on 22nd November 2010
The Penthouse and Pavement Live in Concert with The Story Of Penthouse And Pavement double DVD is released by Blink TV on 15th November 2010 and will be available at the merchandise stand during the tour.
HEAVEN 17's 30th Anniversary Penthouse and Pavement Tour
Ticket Hotline - 08700 603 777 or www.seetickets.com.
Dates include: Edinburgh HMV Picture House (22nd November), Glasgow O2 ABC (23rd November), Manchester Ritz (25th November), Birmingham HMV Institute (26th November), London HMV Forum (28th November), Oxford O2 Academy (29th November), Brighton Corn Exchange (30th November), Bristol O2 Academy (1st December)
by Chi Ming Lai
23rd October 2010