Tag: Howard Jones (Page 2 of 6)

CIRCUIT3 The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything

“My debut album sold out… so I spent all the money on more synths…Why not?”

‘siliconchipsuperstar’, the debut album by CIRCUIT3 slipped out quietly in December 2015 but became one of the surprise independent success stories of 2016. Behind the CIRCUIT3 persona is Dubliner Peter Fitzpatrick, whose new synths have now been put to good use on ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’, the long-awaited follow-up to ‘siliconchipsuperstar’.

But some things in the music biz never change, whatever the level and it has been that difficult second album. “Midway through the writing and recording of the album I paused to write a completely different album and look after my mental health”, Fitzpatrick recalled, “It was worth it. I feel better and I’ve got the next album already written. Every cloud eh?”

With a body of work that explores mental health, politics, human rights, love, contentment and dreams which feature Martin Gore in leather, in a CIRCUIT3 interview with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, Fitzpatrick added “With so much populism and division undermining our society I want to focus on the value and not the price.”

It was a dream about a leather clad Martin Gore that his friend Brian McCloskey had that inspired the lyrics to the excellent album opener ‘Safe To Sleep’; dressed in that iconic Vox Humana Polymoog made famous by Gary Numan, its booming sound is offset by breathy girl whispers from Nicola Stephanie Sangs.

Referencing corruption and various abuse scandals in Ireland, big blocks of sinister human host from a Behringer VC340 vocoder expose that ‘Dirty Little Secret’. The feistier ambition of ‘Sold My Soul’ punches to illustrate Fitzpatrick’s assertion that “At some point you have to do or die” while ‘Electric’ does what it says on the tin with bleeps and a big synthetic brass line.

Dealing with the spectre of depression, ‘DNA’ is a sombre but positive statement on how to accept and work around it. It’s a steadfast take on a subject that Rodney Cromwell touched on  with‘Black Dog’, utilsing crystalline synths and effective use of Compurhythm while allowing a confession that “some days are better than others”. 

Rigid and melodic, ‘Fall In Love Again’ expresses that feeling of finding happiness while attached to a sprightly Clarkean backdrop. But that joy becomes tempered on the emotive ‘Face In The Crowd’; dedicated to Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy of Kurdish ethnic background whose image made global headlines after he drowned in the Mediterranean, the song needs no explanation as a sad musical eulogy to a wasted life and the lack of compassion in today’s societies.

‘Breaking Point’ offers some political reflection and highlights the absurdity of the current divisive stand-offs. Amongst the impressive layers and different textures that waft in and out, Fitzpatrick socks it to those pompous power hungry posh boys: “But you took back control? How are you feeling about it in the cold?”

Sparse raindrop arpeggios from a Jupiter 4 shape ‘The Rain’ which could be Howard Jones’ ‘Don’t Always Look At The Rain’ from ‘Human’s Lib’ reimagined by Philip K Dick; it acts as an embracement of the rain, because it makes the sunshine seem much brighter. It is a musical coping strategy with a touch of Guinness that should be embraced; the late Rutger Hauer would be proud for all sorts of reasons.

Closing with the previously released ‘For Your Own Good’, if the idea of a dystopian Howard Jones album fashioned from the roots of Synth Britannia appeals, then ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’ is for you. Channelling middle aged angst and concerns about steps to the right in a world that is becoming more and more like punk never happened, this album is melodic vintage synth ear candy with a dose of gloom.

“I want to keep getting better at songwriting and making music that people want to listen to” that CIRCUIT3 synthpop chap said.

“With the new album ‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’, I feel I’m doing that. I’m keeping the flame alive for those sounds and hopefully developing my songwriting along the way” – well, as far as CIRCUIT3 is concerned, Fitzpatrick has achieved that!

‘The Price Of Nothing & The Value Of Everything’ is released by Diode Records, available as a CD, vinyl LP or download from https://circuit3.bandcamp.com/






Text by Chi Ming Lai
28th September 2019

HOWARD JONES + CHINA CRISIS Live at The London Palladium

The Grade II listed London Palladium saw the double-bill of HOWARD JONES and CHINA CRISIS reunited after the two acts shared the same bill over twenty five years ago, albeit reversed.

CHINA CRISIS were one of the bands, along with OMD, that helped give Jones exposure when the artist was first starting out, so it was fitting that the two acts should again share the same stage.

Because of the requirements of the headline stage set, CHINA CRISIS performed in front of the Palladium’s curtains with a streamlined set-up, their normal seven piece line-up condensed down to four with Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon flanked on either side by synth player Jack Hymers and saxophonist Eric Animan.

The band opened with ‘Black Man Ray’ from 1985’s Walter Becker produced ‘Flaunt The Imperfection’ and the eight song performance featured early singles ‘Christian’ and ‘African & White’. Alongside them were ‘Fool’ from the Pledge Music funded ‘Autumn In The Neighbourhood’ and the superb ‘Arizona Sky’ from ‘What Price Paradise’, a single that deserved to be a bigger hit than its No48 UK chart position suggested.

‘King In A Catholic Style’ added some audience participation and with the exception of the Kenny G-style sax which nearly threatened to spoil ‘Wishful Thinking’, it was an engaging set with Daly’s amusing between song banter keeping the audience entertained throughout.

It was a pity that the band were only allocated 30 minutes; another 10 would have surely allowed tracks such as ‘Tragedy & Mystery’ and ‘Hanna Hanna’ to get an airing.

HOWARD JONES took to the stage solo, sat at the grand piano and kicked off his set with the song that he played at Live Aid, ‘Hide & Seek’; although renowned for his usage of electronics, it is easy to forget what a gifted pianist he is too and the inclusion of this ‘Human’s Lib’ track prompted an early sing-a-along in the Palladium crowd.

Backed by the ever faithful Robbie Bronnimann on synths and Robin Boult on guitar, there was new band addition in youngster Dan Burton on synths and electronic percussion who looked like he probably might have still been a baby even when the ‘Revolution Of The Heart’ album came out in 2005!

For those in the audience expecting a perfunctory run through of his greatest hits, tonight would have provided a bit of surprise with the majority of Jones’ new album ‘Transform’ being given the lion’s share of his set with 8 tracks in total.

This included the recent single ‘Hero in Your Eyes’ with a back projection of Jones’ beloved Roland Jupiter 8 and Moog Prodigy from the track’s promo video.

Unsurprisingly the three BT collaborations were also played with Jones strapping on his keytar and coming to the front of stage for some of the material. Worthy of a big mention was the staging and lighting throughout; where many electronic acts skimp on budget and imagination when it comes to their backdrops, Jones’ staging was absolutely superb throughout.

There were recognisable nods to NINE INCH NAILS with some of the lighting design, but it was refreshing to see an artist treat the presentation of their material as a spectacle and not just trot out generic back projections with little or no thought and imagination. There are many acts from Jones’ era that should take note!

At one point, Jones’ iconic dancer Jed Hoile appeared on the back projections during a powerful rendition of ‘Equality’.

Eventually a patient Palladium audience got the hits that they wanted in the form of ‘What is Love?’, ‘New Song’, ‘Like To Get to Know You Well’ and ‘Life in One Day’. A short encore break saw Jones and his band come back on for the anthemic ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ and funky ‘Transform’ track ‘Stay With Me’.

Tonight’s show was superb entertainment throughout, The Palladium providing a fitting backdrop for both acts. It was a timely reminder also that HOWARD JONES remains on top of his game with his new material.

Where some bands from this era are happy to wheel out the same sets year after year, it is refreshing to witness an artist who is not afraid to take risks with both their song selection and visuals.

The ‘Transform’ tour is an extensive one and will take in US dates later on in the year and also feature a visit to Japan; so if you are able, do try and catch one of the UK’s finest synth performers, you won’t be disappointed.

With thanks to Asher Alexander at Republic Media

‘Transform’ is released by Dtox Records as a deluxe 2CD with book, standard CD, vinyl LP and download

HOWARD JONES 2019 35th Anniversary ‘Transform’ tour with special guests CHINA CRISIS continues:

Leicester De Montfort Hall (29th May), Manchester Bridgewater Hall (30th May), Edinburgh Queens Hall (31st May), Gateshead Sage (1st June)

Please visit http://www.howardjones.com/ for details on US and Japanese live dates






Text by Paul Boddy
Photos by Chi Ming Lai
27th May 2019


Electronic pop stalwart HOWARD JONES’ new album ‘Transform’ features another singular-worded title after the 2014’s multimedia-based project ‘Engage’.

‘Transform’ sees a welcome full-on return to (almost) pure synthesis for Jones after exploring more singer/songwriter acoustic piano/string avenues during the past few decades.

‘Transform’ also sees a rare artist collaboration in the form of Brian Transeau aka BT, the respected dance producer best known for his pioneering trance work including ‘Flaming June’ and his intricate production work for US boyband N-SYNC on the track ‘Pop’.

The album kicks off with the first of three BT joint works, ‘The One To Love You’ which plays to the strength of both artists, spotlighting Transeau’s exemplary sound design and Jones’ distinctive songwriting style. If anything, the song is highly evocative of the work of JON & VANGELIS with its LinnDrum programming and CS80-style synth textures and means that ‘Transform’ really hits the ground running.

‘Take Us Higher’ is the first of two shuffling 6/8 time signature numbers on ‘Transform’ and it’s interesting seeing Jones approach this kind of direction after it being appropriated by many synth-based artists down the years from GOLDFRAPP through to AESTHETIC PERFECTION.

The other is the previously released ‘Eagle Will Fly Again’ which first appeared on the soundtrack to the ‘Eddie The Eagle’ feature film. In his recent interview with ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK, he revealed that working on the film along with the process of remastering his first two albums had reignited his love of older synths and drum machines, thus informing the overall electronic aesthetic of ‘Transform’.

Also from the ‘Eddie The Eagle’ film, ‘Hero in Your Eyes’ illustrates this usage of vintage gear both in the track and the promo video; featuring his early signature analogue equipment including a Roland Jupiter 8, Moog Prodigy and Sequential Circuits Pro One. Like many of the tracks on ‘Transform’, the track is a perfect mixture of vintage HOWARD JONES combined with a modern production sheen.

The title track to ‘Transform’ is the second joint work with BT and provides an uplifting combination of JAM & LEWIS-influenced production alongside sweeping portamento monosynths and lush analogue synth chords. The song breaks down in the middle with robotic vocodered vocals and like ‘The One To Love You’, showcases a perfect musical fit between the two artists.

‘Beating Mr. Neg’ is an epic sequencer-driven piece which explores the flipside of one of Jones’ favourite topics, positivity; in the song, negativity is given a character to represent that all familiar nagging voice of doubt in our heads. Sonically the uplifting chorus is reminiscent of some of OMD’s more recent work and then at the four minute mark breaks down into an ambient coda with the “I can win this time” line floating over 90 seconds of heavily reverberated pianos.

The third of the trilogy of BT collaborations, ‘At The Speed of Love’ drops the tempo with ‘Vienna’ inspired electro percussion; although not the strongest track here, it is beautifully produced and does provide a welcome change of pace.

‘Transform’ ends in upbeat fashion with the funk-inflected ‘Stay With Me’; the usage of some Nile Rogers’ rhythm guitar and vocodered vocals driving the track along.

It’s been four years since HOWARD JONES’ last work ‘Engage’ and ‘Transform’ shows that this time period has been put to highly productive use; the key strength of his highly recognisable and emotive vocal remains unchanged since his imperial heyday and his new material shows that he is still pushing and capable of producing quality synthpop.

Long-term fans will undoubtedly love the songs here, and those that have maybe not delved into his work for a while should certainly investigate ‘Transform’.

‘Transform’ is released on 10th May 2019 by Dtox Records as a deluxe 2CD with book, standard CD, vinyl LP and download

HOWARD JONES 2019 35th Anniversary ‘Transform’ tour with special guests CHINA CRISIS includes:

Birmingham Symphony Hall (23rd May), Southend Cliffs Pavilion (24th May), London Palladium (25th May), Cardiff St David’s Hall (26th May), Leicester De Montfort Hall (29th May), Manchester Bridgewater Hall (30th May), Edinburgh Queens Hall (31st May), Gateshead Sage (1st June)





Text by Paul Boddy
Photos by Simon Fowler
10th May 2019

A Short Conversation with HOWARD JONES

Photo by Simon Fowler

Celebrating the 35th anniversary of his debut album ‘Humans Lib’, synth veteran HOWARD JONES will be touring UK theatres in May.

The tour also signals the launch of his brand new album ‘Transform’ which features the sparklingly catchy ‘Hero In Your Eyes’ and ‘Tin Man’, a distant musical relative to early B-side ‘Change The Man’ with its piano motif. Both songs reflect the long player’s distinctly classic synthpop feel with electronically derived rhythms and sequencers.

As well as driving numbers such as ‘Eagle Will Fly’ and ‘Take Us Higher’, the other songs on ‘Transform’ range from the chanty electro-funk of ‘Stay With Me’ to orchestrated ballads like the emotive musical thanksgiving of ‘Mother’.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK was extremely pleased to be able to speak to HOWARD JONES during a break from rehearsals for the forthcoming ‘Transform’ tour.

Is there a spiritual theme or concept to ‘Transform’?

I’m coming from the point of view that if you want to make a change to society or the world, if you don’t agree with what’s going on, the first place you have to start is with ourselves, to transform ourselves rather than just go moaning about what’s going on *laughs*

The first place to start is home and then let it ripple out from there, so that’s one of the themes of the album, to change what I’ve got in my head and have a new take on the world, it’s up to me, that’s what I’m saying.

‘Transform’ is your most synthy album for a number of years, so how did your approach compare with say ‘Engage’ or ‘Ordinary Heroes’?

‘Ordinary Heroes’ was very acoustic album using piano and a string quartet really, but ‘Engage’ was like a multi-media extravaganza with video and stuff that was conceived as a live show rather than just a studio album.

So ‘Transform’ is almost like going back to my roots in a way, back to the synths and back to the electronics, back to those song structures… I just felt like doing that! *laughs*

Did the root of it start with when you were invited to contribute music to the ‘Eddie The Eagle’ film?

Yes, but there were a couple of things… one was I working on the remastering of the first two albums so we were collecting rare mixes, demos and video. I was watching and hearing a lot of things from the early days and thinking “oh wow”, I really enjoyed those days of working as a one-man band, having loads of synths and drum machines around me.

And then Gary Barlow asked me to write a couple of songs for ‘Eddie The Eagle’ which of course is set in the 80s. He wanted to have an 80s sound but with contemporary songs. Those came quite quickly to me, I recorded them really fast and thought this could be the basis of the new album. So it was those two things I think that really pushed me towards the sound of the new album.

‘Eagle Will Fly’ is an interesting one in that it has a very driving American feel despite the synths?

It’s a shuffle and there are not many shuffles in synth, although ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ by TEARS FOR FEARS is one… I read the script of the film and just based it on my feelings towards the ‘Eddie The Eagle’ story. I do what I do, I don’t really think how about how it’s going to fit in the world, I try and use the technology of the day to do my best work.

Photo by Simon Fowler

What was the idea behind ‘Hero In Your Eyes’ which was also from the ‘Eddie The Eagle’ sessions?

I was really drawn to the part where his parents were amazing, continuing to believe in him when he was obviously not really very good at what he’d chosen to do, they kept on supporting him.

So him being a hero in their eyes always, that “I’ll be there for you” feeling, I thought that it was something a lot of people could relate to, parents in particular.

The song stands on its own, it doesn’t have to be part of that story. It’s how you can feel about anybody close to you or that you really care about.

The video to ‘Hero In Your Eyes’ features your trusty Jupiter 8, Pro-One and Moog Prodigy, how much hardware did you use on ‘Transform’ and how did you balance in out with VSTs?

I use both, I get the old synths out when I really want to get a particular sound and I’ll record it live into a Mac. But I use software synths as well, I use the best things that are available to make a great sounds. I worked with BT on a few tracks and his studio is absolutely crammed with vintage analogue synths, so he used those a lot on the tracks we did together. When I went to the studio with him, I played a lot of those.

What do you think of these new old synths like the Pro-2, Prophet 12 and various Moogs?

I’ve got a Prophet 12 and I think it’s great, it’s a wonderful synth. But definitely on my shopping list is the Moog One which I really want! It’s a must have for any synth nut, I still have keyboard lust! *laughs*

Among the tracks you worked with BT on are ‘The One To Love You’ and ‘At The Speed Of Love’, how did this come about and what did he bring to the party?

My long term collaborator Robbie Bronnimann turned me onto BT’s music and I became a huge fan of his work. I really thought this guy was really taking electronic music forward with programming and coding, I just loved what he did.

I went to see him in Miami where he was mixing orchestras and electronics, he unexpectedly gave me a namecheck from the stage which was a bit embarrassing! I met him afterwards and he invited me to his studio to hang out and chat. We started messing around with some modulars which was amazing fun and I suggested that we should make a record together because we had come from the same sort of place.

Because I was such a big fan of his work and he been listening to my early work since he was 13, it was a perfect combination really. I think that’s why those tracks have turned out really well. I hardly ever collaborate with people, it’s just with Robbie who I’ve worked with for nearly 20 years. So really, it’s quite a big deal for me to collaborate with people.

Did you two talk about your pop group diversions, him with NSYNC and you with SUGABABES?

No, we didn’t actually! He’s worked with all kinds of different people, unlike me! *laughs*

‘Beating Mr Neg’ has an important message. Now you have been known over the decades as Mr Positive, what’s your secret?

I think everyone has huge capacity for being negative and cynical about the world and themselves, I think that’s what makes us human. We have this great potential for positivity but also this nagging negative urge that often stops us from doing brilliant things.

But it’s a very serious subject, so I wanted to have some fun with that idea, and give Mr Neg a character… of course at the end, you temporarily defeat Mr Neg and are positive about the future.I’m looking forward to playing it live because Mr Neg is represented on the video screen, all nasty and cynical and whispering things in your ear that you don’t want to hear. I’ve had a lot of reaction to the lyrics of that one which is great, people have got where I was coming from.

So who is the ‘Tin Man’?

The ‘Tin Man’ is a AI entity who wishes he could be human, feel pain and joy, and dance the bossa nova. It’s quite a sad song really because he wants to hear the nightingale singing and ponder the universe, but he just can’t because he’s not human. It’s me exploring the idea of Artificial Intelligence and how far that needs to go, will it ever be like the way we think?

What format will the forthcoming ‘Transform’ shows take?

It’s the biggest production I’ve done maybe ever for a theatre tour in the UK. Because the album is very electronic, it’s going to be three keyboard players including me and loads of synths. It’s unashamedly electronic, the drums and bass are coming out of Ableton and we play our stuff on the top, it’s the only way electronic music can sound right. Occasionally I will go to the piano and will play a song acoustically with my guitarist Robin Boult.

It’s very exciting. There will be eight of the songs from the new album, interspersed with heritage stuff. We’ve worked on the older tracks to facelift and update the sounds, get the timing better and have a bit more of the flavour of the new album. So when we play songs back-to-back, it will feel like a continuum rather than jumping back and forth in time. I’m not into nostalgia, I’m always looking forward and how you can create something new, giving older stuff new life.

When you first got your break, you supported CHINA CRISIS in 1983 and you’ve invited them to open for you on the ‘Transform’ tour, it’s great that you’re still friends after the extremely positive reception you got back then…

It’s kind of payback isn’t it really, that tour was so important for me. It was my first national tour and it kind of broke me.

I’d got to the right audience and they went out and bought the ‘New Song’ single, it just was brilliant. I’ve always been friends with CHINA CRISIS ever since then, so it’s really lovely to have them on the tour with me.

The best thing about it is that you’re both still around and making good music… so how does it feel to be celebrating the 35th anniversary of your debut album ‘Human’s Lib’?

It’s a good question, I mean I’m as passionate about the work as I’ve ever been and I’m surprised at that! But it is an absolute fact, I am obsessed with making the best music I possibly can for the fans and I love putting on a show.

It’s what I do and I’m sort fortunate that I’ve found out what it is that I can contribute to our world. It makes me very happy whilst driving me completely nuts as well.

Trying to get things to sound the way I want them to sound, it seems like forever to do it. But it’s really worth it when you get out there and people hear the music and they enjoy it. That’s the pleasure of doing it.

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to HOWARD JONES

With thanks to Asher Alexander at Republic Media

‘Transform’ is released on 10th May 2019 by Dtox Records as a deluxe 2CD with media book, standard CD, vinyl LP and download, pre-order from https://www.musicglue.com/howard-jones/

HOWARD JONES 2019 35th Anniversary ‘Transform’ tour with special guests CHINA CRISIS includes:

Birmingham Symphony Hall (23rd May), Southend Cliffs Pavilion (24th May), London Palladium (25th May), Cardiff St David’s Hall (26th May), Leicester De Montfort Hall (29th May), Manchester Bridgewater Hall (30th May), Edinburgh Queens Hall (31st May), Gateshead Sage (1st June)





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
6th May 2019

HOWARD JONES Hero In Your Eyes

Celebrating the 35th anniversary of his debut album ‘Humans Lib’ and with a promise that he will be “bringing a lot of synths”, HOWARD JONES will be touring UK theatres this May.

The tour will also see the launch of his brand new album ‘Transform’, his first since 2015’s ‘Engage’ multi-media project. A practicing Buddhist for over 20 years, the album’s concept outlines “the idea that if we want to change the world for the benefit of everyone, first we have to start with ourselves.”

From it comes a sparklingly catchy new single ‘Hero In Your Eyes’ which reflects the long player’s distinctly classic feel with sequencers and feel good beats galore.

In some ways, ‘Hero In Your Eyes’ captures a similarly soulful style to the recent SOFT CELL comeback song ‘Northern Lights’. While there are aesthetic references to the past, ‘Tin Man’ is catchy synthpop for the 21st Century.

In the accompanying visual presentation, our hero is seen reminiscing on his career with archive footage projected over him; but the stars of the video undoubtedly are his Moog Prodigy, Roland TR808, Sequential Circuits Pro-One and Roland Jupiter 8, perhaps the four instruments most associated with his imperial years.

In a spirit of collaboration, ‘Transform’ includes three tracks featuring American producer and synth enthusiast BT, best known for his dance hit ‘Flaming June’ with Paul Van Dyk and producing NSYNC’s ‘Pop’. Of course, HOWARD JONES had his own flirtation with contemporary pop by co-writing and co-producing ‘Blue’ for SUGABABES in 2002.

The album also features the previously released 2016 Schaffel synth stomper ‘Eagle Will Fly Again’ from ‘Fly’, the various artists soundtrack souvenir of the ‘Eddie The Eagle’ biopic and the excellent taster single ‘Beating Mr Neg’, a rallying cry against negativity.

Despite being just a year short of receiving his bus pass, HOWARD JONES retains his positive zest for life to inspire creativity, something that has ensured him a loyal following for three and a half decades.

With grateful thanks to Asher Alexander at Republic Media

‘Transform’ is released on 10th May 2019 by Dtox Records as a deluxe 2CD with book, standard CD, vinyl LP and download, pre-order from https://www.musicglue.com/howard-jones/

HOWARD JONES 2019 35th Anniversary ‘Transform’ tour with special guests CHINA CRISIS includes:

Birmingham Symphony Hall (23rd May), Southend Cliffs Pavilion (24th May), London Palladium (25th May), Cardiff St David’s Hall (26th May), Leicester De Montfort Hall (29th May), Manchester Bridgewater Hall (30th May), Edinburgh Queens Hall (31st May), Gateshead Sage (1st June)





Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Simon Fowler
3rd April 2019

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