Category Archives: interviews

2021 ➤ Spandau’s Gary Kemp goes solo with a love song for the Radio 2 audience

InSolo, Ahead Of The Game, Gary Kemp, solo, Spandau Ballet, pop music,

Gary Kemp at 61: new suit too on his taster for the solo single

“Don’t you love it when your heart isn’t making sense?
Running on the power of innocence…”

❚ TODAY WE GOT TO HEAR Ahead Of The Game, the new single from singer-songwriter Gary Kemp who goes solo more than two years after his pioneering 80s band Spandau Ballet last performed live. At the age of 61, Kemp describes the song as a love-song for his wife, inspired by Yacht Rock – previously known in the 1970s-80s as West Coast AOR – in other words yuppy escapism with a lush orchestral presence. “I wanted to write a big feelgood song. I unashamedly love elements of Yacht Rock. I don’t like writing songs unless I feel they’ve got a hook in there somewhere so they’ve got hooks. There is a big sound on the album.”

The single was premiered today before Kemp was interviewed by Steve Wright during In The Afternoon on BBC Radio 2 (fast forward online to 2h40m). An album titled InSolo follows on in July on the Columbia label, only Kemp’s second since Little Bruises in 1995.

LISTEN HERE TO Ahead Of The Game


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TWEET FROM CRITIC NEIL MCCORMICK

❏ That was a really lovely dive into Gary Kemp’s very long awaited forthcoming sophomore solo album (just 26 years after the first). Shades of Steely Dan, Pink Floyd & Gary Moore mixing it up with the smooth Spandau prog soul. Lush.

InSolo, Ahead Of The Game, Gary Kemp, solo, Spandau Ballet, pop music,
➢ Pre-order Gary Kemp’s album InSolo at Amazon
➢ InSolo group at Facebook

SPANDAU BROTHERS LORD IT
ON THE HIGH STREET

Marks & Spencer, Martin Kemp, Roman Kemp, modelling

In a Marks & Spencer window: Father and son Martin and Roman Kemp model shirts

 Waitrose, Gary Kemp, interview

In the Waitrose Weekend magazine: Gary Kemp at home in his library

Posted on 21 June 2021
❚ FROM HUMBLE WORKING-CLASS BOYS to self-made taste-makers. . . Above, we see Martin Kemp looking snappy in the window of Marks & Spencer with his Capital Radio deejay son Roman, while their own unique double act finds other outlets advertising Volkswagen cars, chatting on their Weekend Best show for ITV and Channel 4’s Celebrity Gogglebox. . . Further along the high street Mart’s brother Gary Kemp marks his 60th year with an intensely personal solo album and this interview in the current Waitrose Weekend magazine, pictured here at home in his library. . . Onwards and upwards.

GARY KEMP SEES HIS SOLO ALBUM
AS SEVERING THE PAST

BBC Breakfast, interview Gary Kemp,

Gary Kemp today: “If I write lyrics first then they’re for me”

Posted on 7 July 2021
❚ INTERVIEWED ON TODAY’S BBC Breakfast show Gary Kemp – essentially promoting his new album InSolo – explained why it’s been 25 years since his last solo album:

I didn’t feel the need to do that… I always felt connected with Spandau Ballet, and even though we went through all those troubles and fights then getting back together, everything I was writing was put away for them. And it wasn’t until I started working with Nick Mason from Pink Floyd that I really felt I could sever the past and while on that tour I started writing lots of lyrics and if I write lyrics first then they’re for me and they were about me. Then when I got back from tour I set them to music. I wasn’t going to make the album but when lockdown came it was, Right I’d better finish this.

I was at home working remotely and getting in touch with artists which no one had ever done before – Roger Taylor from Queen said Yes I’ll play on one of your tracks. So I worked remotely with him and other bass players and started to build the album and when the studios reopened in the summer we managed to get in and do a lot of stuff for real.
➢ Watch today’s nine-minute interview with
Gary Kemp on BBC Breakfast

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➤ Duran reveal secrets behind their songs

Duran Duran, Simon Le Bon, pop music, anniversary, live concerts, Radio2,

Primed for action in 2021: Roger, John, Simon and Nick

15 APRIL UPDATE: These Duran40 shows were originally
planned for broadcast in April. They are now planned
for broadcast on Radio 2 at 9pm on Saturday 8 & 15 May.

40
YEARS
ON

NEXT MONTH Duran Duran talk in depth to super-fan Claudia Winkleman about their biggest hits and best-loved tracks, to celebrate 40 years together as a band. Each member of the group reveals secrets about the songs and Simon Le Bon gives a rare insight behind the lyrics that he has penned. The guys take us through their catalogue along with chat from Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers and more. Tune into BBC Radio 2 on Saturday 8 May at 9pm and again Saturday 15th for another hour’s worth.

Duran Duran was formed in Birmingham by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor in 1978 and in 1980 happily joined the New Romantic Scene. The group have sold over 100 million records and have had over 14 singles in the UK Top 10. They recently dropped a tribute cover of David Bowie’s Five Years with Mike Garson on piano, none of them looking a day over whateva.

LIVE SHOWS THIS AUTUMN

➢ Duran Duran’s show at Scarborough Open Air Theatre has been rescheduled to Friday 17 September 2021. Original tickets remain valid for the new date and final tickets are on sale now.

➢ Duran Duran’s show at the Isle of Wight Festival has now been rescheduled to Sunday 19 September 2021. Tickets are on sale now. All existing tickets will remain valid for September so please keep hold of them. If you cannot make the new dates please contact your ticket provider for a refund.

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Celebrating 40 years since Duran’s debut single Planet Earth hit the charts

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2001 ➤ Blitz Kids nail the rites for a Tuesday night out

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, Spandau Ballet, pop music, fashion

Before the phrase New Romantics had been invented: Blitz Kids queue for Spandau Ballet’s second pivotal concert at the Scala Cinema in May 1980

20 & 40
YEARS
ON

❚ BBC4 REMINDED UK AUDIENCES this week how entertaining were many of the Blitz Kids who set the New Romantics ball rolling 40 years ago. When the documentary The New Romantics: A Fine Romance was made in 2001, these talking heads were of course 20 years younger than they are today and full of fizz.

However BBC Manchester fell for some faulty memories that had gelled into mythological “truths” to create several laugh-out-loud howlers in the voice-over script as the price of believing odd Blitz Kid fantasies. Another irritation, amid much classic vintage footage, was the repeated montaging of film footage irrelevant to the Blitz club-night run by gender-bending Steve Strange and electro-deejay Rusty Egan, mainly because no more than about 11 minutes of live footage inside the Tuesday-night Blitz exist, and only one of which was used in this doc. That’s history for you. Set in video.

At least we can enjoy the many gnomic quips tossed out by the stars of 1980’s clubworld during the 48-minutes of A Fine Romance…

St Martin’s designer Fiona Dealey on the New Romantic credo: “Dressing for the Blitz was REAL THEATRE. It wasn’t just another uniform.”

Blitz Kid Stephen Linard’s trade secret: “Make-up was the big thing: make-up and Elnett. We used to get our make-up DONE FOR NOTHING down at Selfridges at half-past five and the girls there would do a makeover on you.”

Steve Strange on the term New Romantics: “I’d rather call it THE CULT WITH NO NAME, because the papers can never put one finger on it.”

Rusty Egan on gender confusion at the Blitz: “By the end of the night you’d hope to go home with someone – same sex, opposite sex, NO SEX AT ALL, you were never quite sure.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on their music: “Over the period 78-79 in the rehearsal studio the band gradually changed from a rock-pop sound to a modern SYNTHESISED TYPE DANCE SOUND.”

Duran’s Nick Rhodes on first seeing Spandau Ballet live in Birmingham in 1980: “We saw them play at the Botanical Gardens and when we left we were smiling. We just said: WHAT’S THAT ABOUT?”

New Romantics, Duran Duran, pop music, frilly shirts, Top of the Pops

Happy even to work “New Romantic” into their lyrics: frilly Duran Duran’s debut on Top of the Pops in March 1981

“Boy” George O’Dowd: “Duran Duran brought the FRILLY SHIRT through to the masses.”

Gary Kemp on shooting Spandau Ballet’s video for Chant No 1 at the Beat Route club in 1981: “That was our LAST HOORAH – Spandau being part of this movement.”

Spandau manager Steve Dagger on the early 80s: “There was this COLOURFUL BANG which revitalised pop culture and fashion and London as a swinging city.”

Robert Elms on the clubbing revolution initiated by the Blitz Kids: “It introduced one-off nightclubs, warehouse parties, the deejay as the centre of attention, clubs where they tell you you can’t come in UNLESS YOU LOOK RIGHT. None of that had existed before.”

George O’Dowd speaking as an old Boy: “Strange and Egan were the gruesome twosome of the time – the HINGE AND BRACKET of New Romanticism.”

➢ View A Fine Romance (BBC Manchester 2001,
last shown 2015, on iPlayer now for another month)

➢ Says one observer: “If you stepped out and didn’t get
abuse, you hadn’t done it right” – Daily Mail review, 2001

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy in 2010

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1980 ➤ When Duran Duran put Brummie Romantics on the map

Duran Duran, New Romantics

Duran Duran in 1980: Birmingham’s fluffiest New Romantics

40
YEARS
ON

◼ 40 YEARS AGO TODAY the Birmingham club-band Duran Duran released their debut single Planet Earth, less than two months after signing to EMI. It charted in mid-March, peaked at No 12, and bagged the band a spot on Top of the Pops, Britain’s premier music TV show. They were the first New Romantic band from outside London to make good, and the writer Steve Jansen claims that “inside of three short years, Duran were officially the biggest band on the planet”.

He celebrated Duran’s birthpangs with a thorough survey of their origins titled Switch It On! – Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran, on the blog gimmeawristband.com which though sadly defunct today, is preserved at the Wayback Machine. As a shorter alternative, Shapersofthe80s documented a few key excerpts from his epic account, where Jansen talked to all the key players involved during the run-up to the band’s chart debut. They are published here with his permission…

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Read Steve Jansen on how other people’s faith put
the Brummies into the charts

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, How Duran Duran’s road to stardom began
in the Studio 54 of Birmingham

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2021 ➤ Olly Alexander fronts new C4 drama series exploring Aids in the Eighties

TV drama, gay issues, youth culture, It’s A Sin, Channel4, Olly Alexander

Gay activist as Aids casts its shadow: Olly Alexander as Ritchie in It’s A Sin

GAY TIMES has teamed up with Channel 4 for a series of video conversations between cast members from tonight’s new series It’s A Sin and artists and activists who lived through the decade, offering social and political context to the themes explored in this LGBTQ+ drama from Russell T Davies. . .

Gay Times, Omari Douglas, Andy Polaris, video, It's A Sin,

Comparing notes: Omari Douglas and Andy Polaris in conversation for Gay Times

❏ “People forget how homophobic and racist it was in the 80s. People would actually say to you bluntly ‘You’re going to die of Aids – this is going to happen to you.” So says Andy Polaris – Eighties pop-singer with Animal Nightlife – to Omari Douglas, star of It’s A Sin. Omari plays a character called Roscoe who is forced to leave home when he’s 17 and his family finds out he is gay. The character quickly finds his tribe and a new group of friends who support each other during the decade that revealed the horrors of a new deadly virus.
➢ Click to watch Omari and Andy’s conversation at Gay Times

TV drama, gay issues, youth culture, It’s A Sin, Channel4, Olly Alexander

Hedonism in Heaven: Olly Alexander on the dancefloor in It’s A Sin

Russell T Davies has given us iconic television shows such as Queer As Folk, Years & Years, Banana, Cucumber, A Very English Scandal, and more. Set during the 80s, his new queer drama It’s A Sin has a soundtrack (guided inevitably by Murray Gold) that evokes the youth, vibrancy and gay sensibility of the era – big electronic anthems that have stood the test of time and changed the musical landscape.

Asked for an iconic tune that he loved, singer-actor Olly Alexander chose for his ambitious and complex character who leads the show Hungry Like The Wolf by Duran Duran. Omari chose Respectable by Mel and Kim, saying: “I just went through a phase of being completely obsessed with them.”

It’s A Sin starts today 22 January at 9pm on Channel 4, with all episodes available immediately after on All 4.

TRAILER PLUS DISCUSSION


❏ At YouTube, the BFI organised a 40-minute panel discussion on It’s A Sin, hosted by comedian Matt Lucas with guests Russell T Davies, exec producer Nicola Shindler, director Peter Hoar, Channel 4 head of drama Caroline Hollick, and from the cast Olly Alexander, Keeley Hawes, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, Lydia West and Nathaniel Curtis. The trailer for the series precedes the discussion.

➢ AnotherMag airs the vital role today of It’s A Sin with its creator Russell T Davies who declares: “Cast gay as gay – you not only get authenticity; you get revenge”

A HIT WITH REVIEWERS

TV drama, gay issues, youth culture, It’s A Sin, Channel4, Omari Douglas

It’s A Sin: Omari Douglas assumes the role of entertainer

➢ Aids drama is a poignant masterpiece – Lucy Mangan in The Guardian: “Humour and humanity are at the heart of this sublime series about London’s gay community in the 1980s, from the creator of Queer as Folk.”

➢ Aids drama is a reminder to find joy in the scariest times – Ed Cumming in the Independent: “For anyone who’s been through the agony of coming out, especially to a hostile family, or who lost loved ones to Aids, this series will be especially moving.”

➢ Living young, free and under the shadow of Aids in the 1980s – Hugo Rifkind in The Times: “Russell T Davies is a thousand miles away from, say, Hugo Blick or David Hare with their darkness and portentous heft. And yet I’m pretty sure he’s a far more important dramatist than either of them.”

➢ A dance in the face of death – Euan Ferguson in The Observer: “Russell T Davies depicts with wisdom how so many, shunned and ‘othered’ for most of their lives, might have chosen to adopt a defiant mood towards yet another orthodoxy, that of scientific reason.”

➢ Aids-crisis drama will break your heart and fill you with joy – Anita Singh in The Telegraph: “Russell T Davies’s best series so far.”

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