Erasure promo interview CD ( ERASSAY 2 )

 

Q1 (MG): So what's the best thing about a new album, is it the toil of making it and all that entails or is it this time now when you know people who are fans are going to hear the record for the first time?

A1 (AB): I think the best bit is actually managing to get it finished and, afterwards your friends hearing it, people who are very close to Erasure and it seems to be the only time when I see my family is when we've done a new record. Gareth and I were very close to losing our cool with the vocals cos we were finishing them off, as the songs were being mixed.

 

Q2 (MG): What's quite interesting about this is that you put your-selves under pressure, by the sound of it, and I didn't think you were the kind of people who did.

A2 (VC): We didn't really, I mean it started off that the record company said to us you've got a long time, there's not an urgent release or anything and I think we took it too far, we stretched it out too much, you know. And then we couldn't have gone on much longer, I mean we'd been working on it for five months, on and off ... you know.

 

Q3 (MG): Would it be fair to say that there was a plan before you started to make the record, was there any kind of game plan compared to perhaps how you've approached other albums?

A3 (VC): Well only the fact that we'd make the songs longer. We never saw a concept particularly for the album ... for any album ... we just write the songs and this time we wrote more than we needed which is a first for us, so we can ditch a couple that we didn't like which was good.

 

Q4 (MG): Making the songs longer is quite interesting because you have always seemed quite disciplined in making perfect length, radio friendly, people friendly pop songs ... so why make them longer?

A4 (VC): When we write like three minute songs it's not like we write them to be three minutes, it's just the way they turn out ... that's what comes naturally ... we just thought we'd stretch them a bit more and make them more kind of cinematic.

A4 (AB): One of the ideas as well was to not rely so much on re-mixes and extended versions so we thought we'd make our own extended versions before anybody else.

 

Q5 (MG): Did it pose any problems working in a different way? Or did it just mean that you'd have to be sort of broader of mind as you approached it?

A5 (VC): It got more difficult as it went on because first we'd write or record the basic song, then we'd have these big gaps like in the middle or at the end or the intro, and then filling those gaps became more and more difficult as the tracks went on I think. You do run out of ideas eventually.

 

Q6 (MG): What were some of the things you used to fill the gaps then?

A6 (VC): Well we just ripped off sort of everybody we knew really, y'know ... listened to Pink Floyd records and all sorts.

 

Q7 (MG): Pink Floyd of course is incredibly cool now but I know you're a bit of a fan of electronic music of all kinds so it seems appropriate that you do longer instrumental pieces.

A7 (VC): It was a challenge y'know to do it ... actually ... I'm just getting into that sort of music more and more I think.

 

Q8 (MG): Does that mean that what you've established on this record is a pattern for the future in that you're prepared to break with what people might have seen as the conventions of an Erasure record?

A8 (AB): It doesn't mean we're going to turn into an ambient band or anything, and I think with Erasure we always do the opposite to what people expect of us ... so the next time it'll just be two minute thirty second nuggets of Phil Spector or some-thing.

 

Q9 (MG): Do you think that some of the video 8 footage that you shot for the epk on this one gives fans more of an insight into what you're doing or does it feel weird having people follow-ing you with this tiny camera all the time?

A9 (VC): Well, I mean we didn't notice it, I mean they just stuck it on a tripod and it's just clicking all the way through. I think that some of it, shows people that we're ... humorous.

A9 (AB): I think, I think it's very honest and shows how mundane it can be as well in the studio. It's not all glamour.

 

Q10 (MG): You are quite private individuals. Do you find it sometimes quite difficult to reconcile the fact that people need a public image of musicians with the fact that maybe you don't want to give everything about your private lives and how you are as a person away?

A10 (AB): I despair sometimes at the way that artists are sold and particularly video artists cos there is a difference between musicians and video artists and their shelf life is shorter I think. It gets more and more difficult to sell music as a medium without film.

 

Q11 (MG): Is that why videos might be more and more difficult to do as you go on?

A11 (AB): I don't know. A video always seems like you have to have a gimmick... to a song and there's only a certain amount of gimmicks really.

 

Q12 (MG): The newest gimmick of course is that Vince you're not in the videos? It's a pretty good gimmick, is it a never again thing? Will you never again be in a video?

A12 (VC): I'd like not, I'd like not to make one ever again.

 

Q13 (MG): You've involved other artists in this project, were they given creative input or did they have to perform the role that you devised for them?

A13 (AB): It just depended on what we wanted for each track. The choir ... obviously needed a melody to sing and although we worked out the chords together and Ruby and Diamanda ... well Diamanda was left entirely on her own. She recorded the vocals in New York. And Gareth and I were there with Ruby and she kind of ... we said to her just ad-lib and she was very happy to do that cos usually when you're doing sessions you have to be very rigid.

 

Q14 (MG): What about when you play records that you've just made Vince, to other people how do you prepare yourself for what their reactions might be or do they always tell you they're great?

A14 (VC): I don't play the records to many people anyway, particularly. I give me mum a copy and stuff. She says "it's very nice" usually.

 

Q15 (MG): What did she say about this album compared to the other records?

A15 (VC): Well she says it doesn't sound like us. Which means it sounds different.

 

Q16 (MG): Does that mean you've achieved what you wanted to?

A16 (VC): Well we weren't aiming to make it different to all our other records, you know there's no game plan it's just the way things turn out.

A16 (AB): I think it's funny when people say "Oh yeah, it's really good, it doesn't sound like Erasure". (laughs)

 

Q17 (MG): But you have a quieter life than many. Looking back Vince, over the career of Erasure and reflect if you will for a moment when you got this band together which seems probably quite a long time ago now, did you consider that it would still be a project which you would still be happy making records in eight/nine years later?

A17 (VC): I don't know, I mean we had no long term plans. The first thing we wanted to do was make a single then we wanted to make an album then we wanted to make a tour and it just went on from there. It feels very natural though, it's like, it feels as though we've always been doing it.

 

Q18 (MG): Because you keep making records people want to hear and so this is perhaps a difficult question but I'll ask it anyway. If I asked you what you'd like to be doing say five years from now, what would it be?

A18 (AB): I would like to think that I could still make music and enjoy singing without thinking whether you're going to sell this record.

A18 (VC): I'd retire to a holiday home in Southend.

 

Q19 (MG): It's great news for the fans that a new album's come round so quickly, can you explain why it's a shorter, or seems to be a much shorter time to get a new record by Erasure?

A19 (AB): Well last album I think was the longest one ever, apart from the very first one we had about three years in between cos we had the hits album, and this album was probably just over a year or it'll be just over a year when it comes out and all the previous albums were, that was the kind of time scale anyway, so we're back, sort of like back to normal.

 

Q20 (MG): Does it mean that you're setting your own agenda as far as getting songs together and not worrying whether you have to go off and do things internationally with the record?

A20 (VC): Well there's no pressure on us to make records at a certain time anyway. You know it's just a case of waiting around until we're inspired.

 

Q21 (MG): Which obviously happened a lot quicker. Let's talk about inspiration then for this record because it does sound to me and I think will sound to fans as though you've moved on from where you were with the last record musically. Is that fair enough?

A21 (VC): Well we've experimented more with this record I think. We decided to develop long instrumental tracks on this album, rather than the normal three minute songs.

 

Q22 (MG): You also recorded the record, in a, as far as I'm aware slightly different manner in that you seemed Vince to work totally on your own with the music with a different producer, from you Andy when you did the lyrics. Let's talk about the music first. Who did you choose as a producer and why?

A22 (VC): I worked with a guy called Thomas Fehlmann with the music and Andy worked with, what was his name?

A22 (AB): Gareth.

A22 (VC): Gareth Jones with the singing, and then we got a guy from America called Francois Kevorkian to mix the album.

 

Q23 (MG): Now you worked with Gareth Jones before, is it important to have other people around when you're doing these specific roles that seem to be quite clearly defined within the band?

A23 (AB): Well the last time we experimented as much with the vocals was when we recorded with Gareth Jones anyway and that was on the "Wild" album. And ... he's a very enthusiastic person and has a lot of patience and I wanted to get the feeling that I was singing in my front room because I think that's kind of the most honest time when I sing. So we set it up in a small room just with some mics and tried to make myself feel as comfortable as possible.

 

Q24 (MG): And do you find you need people who are patient with you? Because both of you I think seem to be in control of what you're doing ... you seem to as I've said before set the agenda for what you do. So what does somebody like a producer, when you're singing, do for you?

A24 (AB): (laughs) Makes me lots of cups of tea ... no .... Because we know each other very well and feel relaxed ... I think it's about not being inhibited and with other people I feel like before I've sang and because they haven't known my voice they'll accept a certain standard and then I won't do any more and with Gareth because I feel more at home I know that we'll get to a certain stage and that's not my best so far and we'll keep going.

 

Q25 (MG): It's a confidence thing as well isn't it that somebody will give you frank advice when you need it, and encouragement as well when you need it. But Vince, you've always seemed to me to be the kind of person who makes music from within yourself and I'm intrigued to know what a producer working with you would actually do?

A25 (VC): Well it's someone to push you really, and making record after record there's always the temptation to use the sounds which you know work ... working with Thomas was good because he's worked a lot of ambient sort of stuff, he's worked with The Orb, a lot of tracks that are well over three minutes long, and I was very worried that when we came up with the idea of making the tracks longer that I would get bored after three minutes. You know or not know where to put the parts or where the track starts losing interest and he was really good at that ... cos he's done that sort of thing before.

 

Q26 (MG): You seem to be both prepared to experiment with having other people around then rather than some artists who either have a very clearly defined role of where things are going or are frightened of letting other people in.

A26 (VC): I think in order that you don't repeat yourself it's important that you let someone else in.

 

Q27 (MG): Why did you record the music at home ... is it just that it's easy?

A27 (VC): Yeah, it's just convenient it's in the garden. Also I have a lot ... the equipment that I use is not easily transportable. And I can just leave it set up in my own little studio and I just know exactly where everything is.

 

Q28 (MG): You seem though when you're recording an album also to divide up the roles ... I get the impression Andy that you're not there when Vince is doing the music and vice versa. don't you ever feel like being there or have you been down that road before and found it's not as useful?

A28 (AB): We used to do it like that but I think it's really painstaking for both of us and we really appreciate each other's craft, but when you're sitting in the studio for eight hours listening to the other person it's kind of ... it gets a bit boring you know.

 

Q29 (MG): When the music has been created by Vince it must be some-times very difficult to work on the lyrics because there is something that is like a 'fait accompli', or am I reading it wrongly?

A29 (AB): Well when we write the songs, which is on the guitar or piano, the melody is already sorted, and we have, I always write some rough words and it's very difficult to escape those words sometimes and then when the music comes back, it can sound like a new song because of the interpretation, and that's really inspiring for the words and a lot of the time I feel the words don't match up to the music ... to the quality (laughter).

 

Q30 (MG): You certainly have an understanding of each other don't you, and that's the secret of why you've continued to not only be successful, but also enjoy working together, so what you're saying by that is that you sketch things out before you actually go in, Vince, to do the music. You work from a sketch.

A30 (VC): Nonsense lyrics and stuff. I mean I don't think it's a problem having words that are in a different mood to the music at all, I think that's quite interesting.

 

Q31 (MG): It means that there's more for people to get on a record.

A31 (VC): Yeah I mean on this record there's a couple of intros that are really quite dark and then it goes into a really happy little words. I think that's quite good though.

 

Q32 (MG): Which are the tracks that you both like?

A32 (VC): I like, I don't know what it's called though ... I like song 4 ... what's that called?

A32 (AB): Sono Luminus.

A32 (VC): That's my favorite track.

A32 (AB): I like both tracks with Diamanda which is "Rock Me Gently" and "Angel".

 

Q33 (MG): Do you think you've set the musical agenda for not just this album but for perhaps the next two or three albums for Erasure, d'you feel good about this new sound?

A33 (VC): Well there's bits in that maybe didn't turn out as well as we'd hoped but I don't know that we'll get into long tracks again.

A33 (AB): Vince is like Mr. Opposite. Once he's done one thing it's back the other way.

A33 (VC): I'm thinking of two minute songs next you know (laughs). Sixties type singles.

 

Q34 (MG): So a new album so quickly, how come you managed to do that when most bands take two or three years, and indeed you have done before?

A34 (VC): Well we just felt inspired to get writing again and we didn't tour the last album so there was time to do it, to write. We went off to Dublin for a few days, did some writing there that came relatively easily so we thought we'd go into the studio and make another record.

 

Q35 (MG): There's no question 35 in the question+answer booklet, just an answer on the CD, so make up your own question!!. Seeing as though they were talking about the new album maybe Mark Goodier asked if the album title changes from when they start recording it to when it's finished, and Andy's saying Vince is good at coming up with album titles?. (or something).

A35 (AB): Yeah they do change. Vince is always really good at that, at choosing names and things.