Andy Bell

Andy Bell

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Monday, 30 October 2006
INTERVIEW

After his massively successful spring tour,“The Erasure Show,” Andy Bell’s solo debut album has arrived. Electric Blue delves into Andy’s first true love, disco. And this album will force you to hit the dance floor. Yes, it’s that good. After years of collaborating with Vince Clarke and once Depeche Mode, Andy decided to step out of the shadow of Erasure (the band is so not breaking up, so don’t start any rumors) to deliver 14 superb songs. The album includes a duet with Jack Shears (Scissor Sisters) and Claudia Brucken (Propaganda and Act). As live dates are being planned for late 2005/early 2006, I steal a moment away to talk with Andy Bell and his always appealing “boy next door voice…”

First off, I would like to say congratulations on your new album, Electric Blue. I think it’s fantastic. I’m a huge admirer of your work, I just caught the Erasure show a couple of months ago at the Avalon in Hollywood.

Oh yeah?

Yes, there wasn’t a body in the room that wasn’t up and dancing. How was this experience putting together Electric Blue different for you in terms of writing and recording outside of the context of Erasure?

Well, it was really a bit of an off the wall thing. When Erasure finished our other tour in the spring, these two guys actually had had given me a four track CD and asked me if I would be interested in collaborating with them on these songs and I said sure. They were Phillip Larsen and Chris Smith (who have previously worked with Erasure, Moby, The B-52’s, Stereophonics and Goldfrapp). Half of the tracks were collaborated with them, the other half of the songs were left up to me. The difference was that I would write the songs and melodies to these tracks, whereas with Erasure, we always would write the songs first. What was great was that I didn’t have anyone to answer to except myself, really. It felt more of like a hobby.

How was it collaborating with Claudia Brucken and Jake Shears?

It was fine. I thought it might have been quite boring to have the whole album you know with just me…

No, Never!

I mean Claudia was just great, I’ve met her a couple of times at Christmas parties, I didn’t realize how much of her stuff I had in my collection. She is very professional. With Jake, I was invited to go see them [Scissor Sisters] in London, and they dedicated a song to me, which was quite touching. We met them backstage after the show and got drunk and I thought maybe he would like to do a song, so we met up later in New York, put together some vocals and that was [the track] “I thought it was you.”

So, it takes getting drunk with you to nab a duet with Andy Bell, is that what you’re implying?

(Laughing)

It’s rare to hear an artist nowadays kind of expand on the “artist’s path,” I really believe that the struggle is a continual experience no matter how many years you’ve been successful in your work. Do you have any thoughts for other struggling artists on how to keep on creating, fueling, and maintaining artistic pursuits?

Yeah, well I can say one thing, I do get quite cynical with the whole industry, it’s very corporate. Kids are being sold by rock and roll through MTV and it’s quite crass. There are certain things I wouldn’t do, like they wanted me to do some thing on VH1, “home with the stars” kind of thing. I am not a media whore. I wouldn’t want to do that. I love groups like Sparks, who are still making fantastic music until now. The only way you can drive your frustration or distaste of the whole thing is by making music. People who carry on making music against all odds, they are the best, I think.

I recently just watched your video for “Crazy” and thought that was highly creative and unique. In certain scenes you’re in a straight jacket, you’re fenced in, you’re out of reach of this faceless lover. What was your idea behind this symbolic display?

Really, this had nothing to do with me. We met up with these two guys including Alan Alb who was suggested by the step mom of Phillip Larsen. It’s all computer-generated graphics. They were real fans and I really loved their work, so it was a marriage of the two.

You seem to delve more into the disco realm more on this album, do you want to comment on that?

Well, that is really where I am most at home. Obviously, I’ve been working with Vince for so long. I always wanted to do a pure, dance record. I remember the first gay club that I went to, I was greeted on the dance floor by the songs of Donna Summer, so ever since then I’ve just wanted to do my version of that thing she does.

I find myself listening to this album while driving and longing for a dance floor, it just makes you want to dance. If you could pick a specific moment in your career or before you met up with Vince Clarke that depicts your struggle for success as an artist, what would that be?

I’ve always made the most of what I’ve got, really. I mean I used to live in a house of social workers, and it was a like a squat kind of thing, they were all working, I was kind of unemployed living in this shelter. But my ultimate goal was to join a band and make music. Do live gigs, that’s what it was. I always had Vince Clarke in my mind’s eye. When I answered that ad [Clarke placed an ad to find a musician to collaborate with] I thought, “Wow, this is unbelievable,” something I had in my mind’s eye the whole time. I met him and thought, “Well, have a really good day. Whatever happens, enjoy the audition…” and then they called and said, “Do you want the job?” And I said, “Yes!!”

That’s inspiring to hear, to just shut the world out, focus on your passion and continue to keep on keeping on with your dreams in your mind’s eye. Thank you so much for your time. I thoroughly enjoy each and every song on this album, and I look forward to your next tour.

Yes, I will be DJing on tour soon…

Thank you again, take care and congratulations.

Thank you.

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