Tag: Martin Rushent (Page 2 of 2)

A Beginner’s Guide To MARTIN RUSHENT

Photo by Simon Fowler

Although he became a noted producer during the height of punk, it was with THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Dare’ that Martin Rushent’s reputation as an electronic music pioneer was forged.

Rushent began his studio career as a projectionist where orchestras would synchronise with motion picture images, before eventually cutting his teeth as an engineer for acts as varied as Shirley Bassey and T-REX, working with their respective producers Johnny Harris and Tony Visconti.

His first major production was for CURVED AIR on their ‘Air Cut’ album. Engineered by Paul Hardiman who was later to produce THE THE and LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS, it also featured Jim Russell on drums who became later became one of Rushent’s engineers and joined THE HUMAN LEAGUE for their ‘Crash’ tour.

He then secured a lucrative role working for United Artists, the company famously founded by Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Junior, Mary Pickford and DW Griffith, as an in-house producer with A&R responsibilities.

It was in this position that he found major success working with THE STRANGLERS on ‘(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)’, ‘Peaches’ and ‘No More Heroes’ as well  as BUZZCOCKS on ‘Evere Fallen In Love’ and ‘Promises’. Meanwhile his freelance clause allowed him to also produce bands like GENERATION X, 999 and THE REZILLOS whose guitarist Jo Callis was later to join THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

It was in 1978 at the height of his punk success that Radar Records, an offshoot of Warners who had Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe on their roster, offered Rushent an opportunity to start his own label and production company. Radar had been founded by the team that had hired Rushent for United Artists and the offer included funding to build what was to become his Genetic Sound Studios complex at his home in Reading.

With his new office based above The Blitz Club and a desire to move away from guitar bands, Rushent became fascinated by the New Romantic movement and its electronic soundtrack provided by their resident DJ Rusty Egan. Egan had started a project with Midge Ure named VISAGE fronted by the now sadly departed Steve Strange. Their demos had been offered to EMI but were turned down…

“Martin Rushent turned punk into pop with THE STRANGLERS and BUZZCOCKS and was the hottest punk producer in 1977-78. He had no idea about synths, he was a rock producer but knew ULTRAVOX, MAGAZINE and RICH KIDS were disbanded.” Rusty Egan told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK,  “But his musical hunch was ‘they must come up with something’”.

Sensing that something was in the air, Rushent invited VISAGE to use his studio to see what they came up with. These sessions, which also featured ULTRAVOX’s Billy Currie plus MAGAZINE’s Dave Formula, the late John McGeoch and Barry Adamson, intrigued Rushent. “We came with our equipment and no drum kit” recalled Egan about that visit to Genetic Sound Studios which was still being built.

“I had the CR78 and the Simmons SDS3 prototype which Richard Burgess gave us; Midge had a Yamaha CS50, Billy had an RMI Electra Piano, Elka Rhapsody 610 and the ARP Odyssey while Dave brought his Yamaha CP30, ARP Odyssey and Yamaha string machine. We ran sequenced drums and layered, we had SMPTE timecode as MIDI did not come in for years, so we triggered and I hit drum pads and we created the sounds… Martin had never seen this type of recording”.

Despite the promising material coming from VISAGE, Warners pulled the plug on Radar and immediate plans for Genetic Records became stillborn. In hindsight, this move was extremely short sighted on Warners part as it was rumoured Rushent had been in discussions with JOY DIVISION, ULTRAVOX and SPANDAU BALLET.

Despite this set back, this experience helped Rushent realise that music production moving towards being more computer-driven, so he bought a Roland MC8 Micro-composer along with a Roland System 700 and Jupiter 4.

A strong advocate of clarity in instrument voicing and as a former drummer, how drum sounds were achieved, the availability of the Linn LM1 Drum Computer in 1981 was the final piece in the jigsaw and the set-up helped Rushent realise his vision. The rest as they say, is history and THE HUMAN LEAGUE scored a No1 with ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ on both sides of the Atlantic…

Rushent won the 1982 Brit Award for best producer and went on to produce THE GO-GO’S third album ‘Talk Show’ released in 1984. However, while recording the follow-up to ‘Dare’, a breakdown in his personal life, coupled to deteriorating relations with THE HUMAN LEAGUE led to Rushent leaving the sessions and walking out of his own studio! The eventual ‘Hysteria’ album was lukewarm, audibly missing Rushent’s touch.

Following his divorce, Rushent was forced to sell Genetic Sound Studios to avoid bankruptcy. Despite reducing his workload to more occasional studio recordings with ASSOCIATES, HARD CORPS, THEN JERICO and TWO PEOPLE, Rushent was suffering from depression; realising his heart was no longer in music, he effectively retired from the industry.

Taking time out to raise his family as a single parent, he eventually made a steady return to full album productions with Hazel O’Connor in 2005 and THE PIPETTES in 2010. Buoyed by the huge developments in computer technology, he even presented his own DISCO UNLIMITED project with a track called ‘Itchy Hips’ inspired by his daughter Amy, as well as working with his son James’ band DOES IT OFFEND YOU, YEAH? But just as momentum was returning to his music career, Rushent sadly passed away in June 2011, aged 62.

Remembering working with Martin Rushent, Clive Pierce of HARD CORPS said: “Personally I felt overwhelmed when in the studio with him as it did feel at times that your precious baby was being bounced around in a manner you would never dream of doing yourself. His deft production work magnified what we were attempting to do ourselves and that’s exactly what great producers do”.

THE PIPETTES’ Ani Saunders who now makes music as ANI GLASS and recently tweeted a photo of project notes from recording with Rushent as she prepared to record her first solo album added: “One of the greatest lessons I learnt from Martin was to only spend your time working on music you believe in and not to be afraid to change / amend / cut parts or songs if they’re not good enough. Of course the production and engineering skills I gained working with him were invaluable but I also learnt about how to create the right atmosphere for and during recording, something which I think is often overlooked. When I’m writing pop songs I always ask myself ‘what would Martin do?’ – it helps to keep me in check”.

Focussing primarily on his work with synthesizers and technology, here is a look back at the post-punk career of Martin Rushent. With a limit of one track per album project and presented in chronological order, here is a Beginner’s Guide to the late, great man…

THE STRANGLERS Nice N Sleazy (1978)

Making his fortune producing the key tracks of THE STRANGLERS’ career such as ‘(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)’, ‘Peaches’ and ‘No More Heroes’, the mutant punk reggae of ‘Nice N Sleazy’ saw a diversion into synthesizers with Dave Greenfield’s spacey blast of swirling Minimoog during the instrumental break. At Battersea Park in September 1978, the band courted controversy when accompanied by strippers for the song’s visual embellishment!

Available on THE STRANGLERS album ‘The Very Best Of’ via EMI Records


JOY DIVISION Ice Age (1979 – Released 1997)

Recorded in March 1979, JOY DIVISION spent a day at Eden Studios in London with Martin Rushent recording a 5 track demo with the view to signing to his Genetic Records label. The tracks included ‘Transmission’, ‘Insight’ and ‘Ice Age’, But afterwards, the band made the decision to go with Factory Records and headed to Strawberry Studios in Manchester to record their debut long player ’Unknown Pleasures’ with Martin Hannett. However, Rushent always reckoned his version of ‘Ice Age’ was better than the speedier version that ended upon the posthumous ‘Still’ double album collection in 1981.

Available on the JOY DIVISION boxed set ‘Heart & Soul’ via Rhino Records


VISAGE Tar (1979)

At Genetic Sound Studios, VISAGE started recording an album. Rusty Egan recalled: “we agreed to use the studio for a weekend with Martin engineering”; the first track from those sessions was ‘Tar’, a cautionary tale about the dangers of smoking. After numerous contractual issues, it was finally released as a single on Genetic Records but within days, Warners closed down his funding source at Radar Records.

Available on VISAGE album ‘Visage’ via Polydor Records


PETE SHELLEY Homosapien (1981)

‘Homosapien’ came about after sessions were aborted for BUZZCOCKS fourth album. Rushent and frontman Pete Shelley worked on new material using the Roland MC8 Micro-composer and System 700. Now seen as Shelley’s coming out song, a cacophony of synths and 12 string guitar combined for a wonderful futuristic snarl. However, the lyric “Homo Superior in my interior” got it a BBC Radio1 ban.

Available on the PETE SHELLEY album ‘Homosapien’ via Active Distribution Ltd


THE HUMAN LEAGUE The Sound Of The Crowd (1981)

When presented with the demo of ‘The Sound Of The Crowd’, Rushent’s response was “Well, that’s going in the bin”… Phil Oakey objected but the producer snarled back: “You came to me, so I assume that’s because you want hits?”… triggering bursts of System 700 white noise from the Micro-composer for the rhythm track, the combination of obscure lyrics from Ian Burden like “Stroke a pocket with a print of a laughing sound” and a screaming chant gave THE HUMAN LEAGUE their breakthrough hit.

Available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘Greatest Hits’ via Virgin Records


ALTERED IMAGES Happy Birthday (1981)

While Steve Severin from SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES produced the majority of the ‘Happy Birthday’, the job of turning the title track into the Glaswegian quintet’s breakthrough hit fell to Rushent. Tight ‘n’ bright thanks to Rushent’s modern production and Glare Grogan’s helium fuelled cutesy vocals and nursery rhyme lyrics, the song was denied the No1 spot for 3 weeks by a synth cover of ‘It’s My Party’ and later on, the might of THE POLICE.

Available on ALTERED IMAGES album ‘Happy Birthday: The Best Of’ via Music Club


ALTERED IMAGES I Could Be Happy (1981)

Combining the precision of programmed technology with live instrumentation, ‘I Could Be Happy’ was one of Rushent’s best productions. Despite being shrouded in melancholy, it was catchy and danceable enough to be a UK Top 10 hit. Rushent produced the parent album ‘Pinky Blue’ but it was given a lukewarm reception, ultimately causing the original line-up of ALTERED IMAGES to implode.

Available on ALTERED IMAGES boxed set ‘The Epic Years’ via Cherry Red


LEISURE PROCESS Love Cascade (1982)

Featuring Ross Middleton and Gary Barnacle with production by Rushent, ‘Love Cascade’ was the missing link between Pete Shelley and THE HUMAN LEAGUE. The vocals were virtually unintelligible as the clattering Linn Drum, pulsing synths, squawky guitar and sax merge together for a cool dancefloor friendly tune that’s full of the decadent spirit of the times. Barnacle went on to become one of the top session saxophonists.

12 inch version available on the album ‘Retro: Active 5’ (V/A) via Hi-Bias Records Canada



“The most creative experience I’ve ever had in my life” was how Rushent described the tracks from ‘Dare’ specially remixed and re-edited by him. Pre-sampling, the material was remixed from the mixing board using a multitude of effects with vocal stutters created by cutting up and splicing portions of tape with the aid of his custom-made ruler. The percussive dub laden barrage of ‘Do Or Die’ was one of the highlights.

Available on THE LEAGUE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA album ‘Love & Dancing’ via Virgin Records


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Fascination (1983)

Tensions were running high with creative differences during the recording sessions for THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s follow-up to ‘Dare’, with Rushent losing enthusiasm due to conflicts in the studio with Phil Oakey and in particular, Susanne Sulley. The weirdly catchy ‘Fascination’ was the last track to be recorded with Rushent, but he departed before it was mixed. The eventual ‘Hysteria’ album was lukewarm, audibly missing Rushent’s touch.

Extended version available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘A Very British Synthesizer Group’ via Virgin Records


PETE SHELLEY Telephone Operator (1983)

With Shelley and Rushent developing on ‘Homosapien’ with a more fierce sound, ‘Telephone Operator’ could be seen an extension lyrically to the themes of its predecessor. The original parent album ‘XL-1’ had a novel bonus track in a computer program for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum which printed lyrics in time with the music and displayed graphics with a locking groove before the code so that its bleeps and squeaks could not be played accidentally.

Available on PETE SHELLEY album ‘XL-1’ by Active Distribution Ltd


HAZEL O’CONNOR Don’t Touch Me (1984)

When endorsing Korg’s PSS-50 Programmable Super Section, Rushent was enthusing about a record which “apart from voice” was “all written and performed on one synth” – that album was HAzel O’Connor’s ‘Smile’. From it, the moody single ‘Don’t Touch Me’ was very art school Weimar Cabaret with some very passionate vocals from O’Connor, constructed around a Synclavier with its distinct period bass and brass sounds.

Available on HAZEL O’CONNOR album ‘Smile’ via Cherry Red


ASSOCIATES Breakfast (1985)

Rushent worked with Billy Mackenzie on five tracks for ‘Perhaps’, the much anticipated recorded return of ASSOCIATES. ‘Waiting For The Love Boat’ was one of those songs, but the recording which stood out was the epic string laden drama of ’Breakfast’. It is possibly Mackenzie’s greatest single moment, the melancholic piano motif setting the scene for an entire film noir in five minutes with its widescreen dramatics and mournful tension.

Available on ASSOCIATES album ‘Singles’ via WEA


HARD CORPS ‎Je Suis Passée (1985)

Clive Pierce said: “HARD CORPS, having traditionally self-produced tracks at our resident studio in Brixton relished the prospect of working with Martin on ‘Je Suis Passée’ having been admirers of his work on ‘Love & Dancing’. It was difficult but never the less a total education. That’s the trouble being so close to something it’s difficult to let go. In retrospect I now listen to ’Je Suis Passée’ in awe of what he achieved. The baby was fine”.

Originally released as a single by Polydor Records, version available on the album ‘Clean Tables Have To Be Burnt’ via Minimal Wave Records


THEN JERICO The Big Sweep (1985)

Pop rockers THEN JERICO were fronted by the handsome if volatile Mark Shaw; their debut single ‘The Big Sweep’ was recorded with Rushent and some help from his new Synclavier. However, due to the track’s anti-tabloid lyrical subject matter, the band’s label London Records initially declined to release the track. So it was self-released as a 1000 limited edition, although the track eventually resurfaced in its club mix on the 12 inch of ‘Muscle Deep’ in 1987.

Available on the THEN JERICO album ‘The Best Of’ via London Records


THE HUMAN LEAGUE Heart Like A Wheel (1990)

Jo Callis told ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK: “With ‘Heart Like A Wheel’, when The League came to thinking about the follow up to ‘Crash’ (which would become ‘Romantic?’), I thought there might be a good opportunity to try and get ‘the old team’ back together again, which I did manage to achieve for a couple of tunes at least”. With Rushent at the helm again, the result was a tune that recalled the classic pop era of THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

Available on THE HUMAN LEAGUE album ‘The Very Best Of’ via Virgin Records


GRAFTON PRIMARY Relativity – Martin Rushent remix (2008)

Australian electro-noir duo GRAFTON PRIMARY balanced in the divide between art and science on their debut single ‘Relativity’. Benjamin and Joshua Garden utilised sharp synthpop hooks and solid basslines in a classic Synth Britannia vein manner not dissimilar to THE HUMAN LEAGUE, which naturally made them perfect for a remix by Martin Rushent; three of his mixes were included on the ‘Relativity – Reinvented’ collection.

Available on GRAFTON PRIMARY single ‘Relativity – Reinvented’ via Resolution Music ‎


THE PIPETTES Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen (2010)

From Rushent’s final album production, ‘Our Love Was Saved By Spacemen’ was a celestial Latin flavoured pop tune by the MkII variant of THE PIPETTES, fronted by sisters Gwenno and Ani Saunders. The partnership was to prove inspirational with Gwenno’s next solo long player ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ being one of the best albums of 2014, while Ani recently tweeted a photo of project notes from recording with Rushent as she recorded her first solo album.

Available on THE PIPETTES album ‘Earth Vs The Pipettes’ via Fortuna Pop


In memory of Martin Rushent 1948-2011

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Rusty Egan, Clive Pierce, Ani Saunders and Jo Callis

A Facebook tribute group to Martin Rushent run by his son Tim can be viewed at

Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th February 2018

MIDGE URE Interview

Like many graduates of Synth Britannia, Midge Ure first became interested in electronic music when in 1975, KRAFTWERK’s ‘Autobahn’ hit the UK singles charts.

Already using Yamaha’s flagship SG2000 guitar, in 1977 he was able to negotiate with the Japanese company to make his first synth purchase, a CS50, at half price. At the time, he was a member of THE RICH KIDS with Glen Matlock, but with THE SEX PISTOLS refugee preferring Hammond organs and brass sections to Minimoogs, the inevitable musical differences ensued.

Breaking away with drummer Rusty Egan in 1978, the pair recruited Steve Strange as vocalist and formed VISAGE. It became a platform to create modern electronic dance music influenced by the likes of DAVID BOWIE, KRAFTWERK, LA DÜSSELDORF, YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA that could be played at Egan and Strange’s ‘Club For Heroes’. Another band who Egan and Ure loved from that period was ULTRAVOX; their multi-instrumentalist Billy Currie was invited to join the sessions for VISAGE’s debut album and this eventually led to Ure joining ULTRAVOX.

In 1985 while juggling ULTRAVOX and his work with the Band Aid Trust, Ure released his debut solo album ‘The Gift’ which spawned the rousing No1 single ‘If I Was’. Two further albums ‘Answers To Nothing’ and ‘Pure’ followed.

But in 1993, he went ‘Out Alone’ on an intimate tour which saw Ure performing on his own, accompanying himself primarily on just an acoustic guitar. In 1995, his fourth solo album ‘Breathe’ signalled a new direction with a more Celtic feel and traditional instrumentation. Although initially the album had a slow start, Swatch chose the title track to accompany a well-received advertising campaign. As a result, the album became a massive seller all over Europe.

Ure has been particularly busy over the last 6 years. The successful live reunion of ULTRAVOX with the classic line-up of Warren Cann, Chris Cross and Billy Currie in 2009 led to the recording of 2012’s ‘Brilliant’ album. 2014 saw the release of ‘Fragile’, his first solo album of original material for over 12 years. A striking return to form, it included a number of poignant songs such as ‘Become’, ‘Dark Dark Night’, ‘For All You Know’ and ‘I Survived’.

But for 2015, 20 years on from its original release, Midge Ure is performing the ‘Breathe’ album its entirety as part of an ongoing concert tour, augmented on stage by Cole Stacey and Joseph O’Keefe from INDIA ELECTRIC CO. He kindly took time out from rehearsals and chatted about the ‘Breathe Again’ tour and much more…

Out of your solo albums, why have you chosen ‘Breathe’ as the one for the full length live showcase treatment?

A lot of my solo albums go through hell before they’re actually released. ‘Fragile’ took a long time to come and ‘Breathe’ was one of those albums where the record company, in their infinite wisdom, decided to A&R me after all these years! They wanted me to not use the same musicians, not to record in the same studios, not to produce the album myself… so they asked me to gather a whole bunch of songs which I did and I ended up with a producer I could work with, Richard Feldman who had done an album for the model and actress Milla Jovovich which was a great album.

So I made ‘Breathe’, it was fantastic and I delivered the album, only to have it sit on a shelf for a year while BMG started sorting out their internal problems. It was a hideously frustrating process to go through, and when it finally came out, the first two years of its life, it was the worst selling record I’d ever made.

So until Swatch came along and picked up the title track thanks to a fan in Italy, the album was an absolute disaster. But because of a TV commercial, it turned the entire thing round. It bounced all around Europe and was a big record eventually. I thought how good it would be to play the album in its entirety because I’ve never done that before.

At the time it was released, it was a departure from what you were known for, with a lot of traditional instrumentation?

It was more organic… there was still electronics involved with samples and stuff like that, but I think it’s just what you end up doing. You try to run a million miles from what you’re known for and it’s all part of the process of finding your own feet and trying to decide what you are and what you want to do. Part of that process would have been turning my back on the standard synthesis and rediscover my Scottish roots.

So the idea of doing something more organic had a bit of oomph to it, and was quite appealing at the time. I don’t think you’re the same person your entire life and you go through phases like chapters in a book. So when you get to chapter twenty five, you’re a very different person to the one who started off in chapter one. It was just another phase of discovery. To me, the important part of it was the quality of the songs, not just necessarily the instruments enhancing the songs.

A lot of ‘Breathe’ was recorded in America?

It was, yes… Richard Feldman is an American guitarist / producer and we did an awful lot of it at his place but a good chunk of it at mine in Bath.

There appeared to be some Country music vibes creeping in?

You know what, I’m not quite sure about that… I think Country and traditional music are all very intermingled. Country music is just music from the country it’s sourced from. So country music would be Scottish or Irish or whatever, and it was when it got to America, it became Western. Country & Western music is based in roots music, it’s all the stuff I would have been taught as a kid in school.

The title song turned out to be one of the biggest songs of your career internationally, yet it is one of your lesser known ones in the UK?

Yeah, very much so… quite simply, the TV advert didn’t run in the UK, only on satellite channels so it didn’t get the same exposure here. And of course, good ol’ Great Britain, the radio didn’t play it even though it was No1 in the whole of Europe.

There was a European chart that was an overall one for the whole continent including the UK, and for months and months, it was the No1 record! Yet UK radio chose not to play it! So there’s nothing much you can do about situations like that. You put it out and hope for the best. And sometimes you don’t get the best…

You roped in Robert Fripp to play on ‘Guns & Arrows’. What was it like working with him?

It was great, he’s lovely guy and a brilliant guitarist. You know, to have the guy who played on ‘Heroes’ play on one of your tunes is quite spectacular. It was very fortuitous actually, because he was in Los Angeles when I was recording there and I went to Dave Stewart’s studio just across the road from where I was. Robert was there and he said “of course I’ll play on the track, but do you mind if I bring 20 Japanese guitar students?”; I said it was fine and I had this bizarre scenario of Robert playing his fabulous Frippertronics thing in the recording room and in the control room looking through the glass window were these Japanese kids, all jotting down everything he did and said, with him lecturing “this is Midge… this is his song… I’ve known Midge a while… what I’m going to do is this…” – so he’s playing these textures and explaining it to these Japanese kids, it was most surreal but a great thing to happen.

You also had Shankar playing a blistering violin solo on ‘Live Forever’, how are you reinterpreting the album on the ‘Breathe Again’ tour with the guys from INDIA ELECTRIC CO?

The INDIA ELECTRIC CO guys play a variety of instrumentation and there’s only two of them. So there’s three of us on stage but we manage to cover a lot of stuff. For three people, we’re making quite a big noise. Joseph O’Keefe who plays violin is just spectacularly good as a musician. He’s one of these guys who can hear in a cacophony that one string is out of tune. Him and Cole Stacey are both incredible, but they’re so versatile and jump between instruments all the time.

I’m very pleased with how it’s gone. Even though the album wasn’t a huge success in the UK, the reaction it’s had so far has been phenomenal. The response of people has just been great, whether they knew the album or not. I was a little wary of going in and playing an entire album live of material that some of the audience wouldn’t know at all, but it seems to be irrelevant. They seem to be hooked on the textures, the melodies and the atmospheres. So maybe I’m just under estimating the audiences taste.

Of course, ‘Breathe’ is only so long, so you will also be playing material from throughout your career. How are you deciding which songs to play, especially as a fair number of your best known songs are synth based and are being rearranged for a more organic setting?

Well, I think that the song itself will dictate whether it can fit in that format or not, but I’ve been quite surprised at the ones which really sell; ‘Fade To Grey’ works brilliantly in this format as does ‘Lament’. And ‘Vienna’ works well! You would think, how could you recreate a song like that and get away with no drums, no bass, no whatever… you treat it differently, you just look at the song as an entity, it is its own thing and it’s like a salad; it changes flavour depending on what dressing you put on it.

So a song just changes it flavour by whatever dressing you put on it, so it changes whether you’re doing it electronically, doing it with a rock band or doing it with acoustic instruments. The song should be malleable and pliable, and still work as a song. But I have to say, some stuff we’re doing that’s not from the ‘Breathe’ album is working a treat. In fact, some of it is going down better than the ones designed to be played in that format.

Has there been a song you’ve loved and tried to do in this organic three piece line-up but that hasn’t worked?

Not really, although I shied away from doing ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, because I’m not quite sure how it would work in that format… maybe that’s just me being a coward. But then again, I’ve been doing it solo acoustic for quite a long time now and it seems to work when it’s stripped right down. It’s down to the quality of the song.

I remember when the ‘Breathe’ album came out at first, and with the band I’d got to back it up, we couldn’t get ‘Live Forever’ to work. It just didn’t sound right and I scrapped it. So we never played ‘Live Forever’ live; but with the three piece, it works brilliantly! Don’t ask me why! It just does, it gels and has become a firm favourite in the current shows. I don’t know, maybe the ones you suspect will work, don’t! And the ones that won’t, do! You just have to be surprised and go with the flow! *laughs*

You released the excellent album ‘Fragile’ in 2014, how do you look back on its reception?

It was better than I expected in a lot of areas and no worse than I kind of expected. Some of the great stuff was really great. But there was one review that called it “Ultravox lite”; I didn’t get that at all because I think it’s a very different animal to ULTRAVOX.

A lot of places got it, The Huffington Post review put it in the Top 10 albums of 2014, even in America which is spectacular for an album that maybe a lot of people in America wouldn’t understand. But I think because it was something real, raw and honest, I think I came up with a very interesting album with a very good, strong batch of songs. I think some of the songs are the best that I’ve ever done. I spent a long time on it and poured my heart and soul into it. I didn’t listen to anybody outside telling me or guiding me how to do it, I just did exactly what I felt at the time.

Tracks like ‘Wire & Wood’ and ‘Bridges’ reminded people of your aptitude for instrumentals, so would soundtrack work interest you in the future?

It’s always interested me but it’s never come my way properly, other than a few small independent movies, that was good fun and great to do. I always thought ULTRAVOX should have been doing soundtracks with that Germanic synthesizer feel.

People like Trent Reznor who have been involved in electronics are doing soundtrack work… it never came ULTRAVOX’s way, but maybe we wouldn’t have been very good at it! Who knows? But the music kind of lent itself to that cinematic openness and atmospherics.

Are there any intentions to perform songs from ‘Fragile’ with a full band rather than in an acoustic setting?

We’re doing ‘Become’ and ‘Fragile’ in the ‘Breathe Again’ show… ‘Fragile’ lends itself well to that format because it’s a delicate little thing. I would LOVE to do the entire ‘Fragile’ album with a band, but it’s down to necessity, demand and cost… putting a full band together and major rehearsals, it’s a very costly thing to do. And I’m wary of piling on the ticket price to make an audience pay for it. So it’s something that would have to be well thought out, to do it properly and do it well. But I’d love to get my teeth in there and play the entire album.

You used Melodyne for both ‘Fragile’ and ULTRAVOX’s ‘Brilliant’ album but got some criticism for it. I find it quite strange that some electronic music fans have a problem with voice processing technology, especially when you used the equivalent period aesthetic on the third verse of ‘New Europeans’ for example… how do you see it?

I think anyone who cuts out processing or techniques in any form is just stupid! It like saying “why would you want to record on a computer when you’ve got tape machines?” or “why would you want to record digitally when you’ve got analogue?”. People don’t progress that way!

If I was somebody who couldn’t sing and had to pitch vocals or do all sorts of stuff to make it sound in tune, of course, then I should be pilloried for it! But I’m not!

I use it for effect… my hearing pitch has got better and more refined over the years, so anything that’s slightly out for me, I want to get that right! But that nobody else can hear it… I used to drive ULTRAVOX crazy! It’s a bit like with my new glasses that are scratched in the middle of the lens, nobody can see it but I can!

So there’s nothing wrong with effecting something to make it the best it can possibly be, if that’s what you want to achieve. It’s very different hiding behind something because you’re not good enough. And it’s very different from being good enough, and making it better.

I don’t use it all the time, it’s a tool and no different from any of the plug-ins that I use when I make music. It’s a bit like saying “why do you use reverb on your voice?”… well, it’s because it suits the song and makes it more interesting.

And when you you’ve already recorded something and then think “oh, I wish I’d played that as a minor!”, why wouldn’t you use a tool that would allow you to do that without having to re-record the entire thing? You can adapt it and change it… music should be malleable, you should be able to play it ‘til you’re blue in the face. Some people are just anal to tell you the truth! *laughs*

How was the ‘Brilliant’ experience for you and recording with ULTRAVOX again? It seemed reinvigorate you?

Yeah, it’s funny because people think I did ‘Fragile’ after ‘Brilliant’, it was 80% there! But ‘Brilliant’ was what sparked me up to actually finish it.

So a lot of the textures, sounds and character of the ‘Brilliant’ album kind of stemmed from my dabblings on ‘Fragile’ where I’d run out of steam… I didn’t see the point of finishing it, I was making an album that only a handful of people would appreciate.

It was just me being a twat really, but that’s the feeling you get! You think “what’s the point of putting your heart and soul in it?” So doing the ‘Brilliant’ album with the guys was the spark that I needed. It gave me the incentive to think “WOW! There’s something still there!”, because any artist is full of self-doubt… the first thing you think isn’t “the record company were crap” or “the radio are rubbish for not playing it”, but “maybe I’m not good enough”. You look at yourself first and foremost.

That’s the process I went through and the whole get-together with ULTRAVOX was just such an enjoyable thing. I’m very proud of that record, I think we did a great job and it gave me the boost I needed to get on and finish my own record.

What is the state of play with ULTRAVOX?

I haven’t seen Billy since we walked out of the O2 after the SIMPLE MINDS show, I haven’t seen Warren as he’s in Los Angeles but Chris has just texted me. We always said we were never getting back together to take over the world as a band and pretend we were a bunch of teenagers, we all have other things that we do.

And we said that if and when something interesting pops up, we would get-together and do it. But right now, there’s no “yes, we’re doing something” and there’s no “no, we’re never doing anything again”. It’s just there resting on a shelf.

You’ve under taken quite a number of collaborations recently with MOBY, SCHILLER, LICHTMOND and JAM & SPOON, have you any more planned?

I’ve never planned a collaboration to tell you the truth, it sort of lands on your lap. All of those you mentioned, they approached me and if I find it interesting, I’ll work on something, especially these days when it doesn’t involve jumping on a plane and disappearing from home for a week. It’s all done via the internet these days, someone sends you an idea for a track and you stick it on your computer. You start chopping it around, write new bits for it, do some lyrics, record a vocal, email it back to them and they assemble it at their place. It’s making collaborations much easier.

What’s been your favourite collaboration?

My favourite collaboration? KATE BUSH ‘Sister & Brother’… what a joy to go to my grave knowing that KATE BUSH and I are on the same piece of music, how cool is that?

Photo by Paul Cox

Was further collaboration with the late Mick Karn ever a realistic proposition following ‘After A Fashion’ in 1983, other than those aborted JBK sessions that spawned ‘Get A Life’ and ‘Cry’ on your ‘Little Orphans’ rarities CD?

We did some stuff in Montserrat, Mick came out for a couple of weeks and did some basic grooves, textures and backing tracks… there’s a copy of it somewhere but I’ve never tried to complete any of it. We never got round to doing it, it was just one of those things. We talked about various projects, but we never got over the dabbling stage and never got seriously into it, which is a pity.

The JBK thing never got any further than those two tracks, all those guys who were in JAPAN are incredibly talented, and that would have been an interesting collaboration, but it never really happened. The idea was to put a band together, but I didn’t want to be the singer and we could never come up with someone who could take over the vocals. If I sang it, it would have been too much like me or ULTRAVOX, so it kind of fizzled out.

You wrote ‘Personal Heaven’ with Glenn Gregory of HEAVEN 17 and recorded it with X-PERIENCE, have you ever considered doing a collaborative EP or anything with him?

We’re probably better mates than collaborators! But yes, nothing is out of the question, especially with somebody like Glenn, he’s such a joy to be around and a lovely guy. And these days, you can do it without confusing people… you can go off and just do a little sideline. But back in the ULTRAVOX days, you couldn’t really do it, that’s your band, that’s what you do and you should never step outside that. So these days, it’s great to just go out and collaborate with people, I fully enjoy the whole process. So it’s a good idea Glenn and I getting together and doing a few songs ever so often, to see what we come up with.

Photo by Gabor Scott

Of course, your best known collaborative project was VISAGE and we lost Steve Strange recently. Have you had a chance to reflect back on that clourful period at The Blitz Club?

You can’t help for all that stuff to go around your head, it was a major part of my life and Steve was a major part of that period. It was just dreadfully sad, the whole thing… it was just pathetic and horrible. Y’know, I’m not sure what he was doing towards the end, VISAGE was never meant to be a live act.

It was a studio project and meant to be a ‘Willo The Wisp’ thing that you couldn’t really grab hold of it cos it disappeared… that was the whole concept Rusty Egan and I came up with, it was just a passing thing. But Steve looked like he was having fun doing it.

I hadn’t seen Steve for a year and a half, two years or whatever prior to his passing, so it sparked off all the memories and all the fun stuff. Like the challenge of putting something like VISAGE together from a variety of different bands who were all still in existence and touring. So trying to put them all in the same place at the same time was a tall order.

The majority of the initial VISAGE recordings were done in Martin Rushent’s studio which was a little house in the bottom of his garden which had all his equipment in. Martin used to come down and watch we were doing, he’d never seen or heard anything like it, all these electronics. He used to hang about every night watching what Rusty and I were up to, watching Billy doing his sequencing and things like that, it was great. He was coming down with notebooks to learn how it all worked, and then went off and made THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s ‘Dare’ album! *laughs*

It was very beneficial, he gave us studio time because it was his label who was originally putting the stuff out, but he won because he got to make ‘Dare’ which was fantastic.

What’s next for you after the ‘Breathe Again’ tour?

There’s some dates in Germany and Dubai at the end of the year. But I’ve got to get back in the studio and carry on writing, now that I’m fired up. I want to keep that momentum going, I don’t want it to be another 12 years… I’m not sure I’ve got another 12 years, so I just want to get on with it! *laughs*

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Midge Ure

The ‘Breathe Again’ Tour 2015 includes:

Gateshead Sage (27th June), Southport Atkinson (28th June), Bury St. Edmunds Apex (17th September), Andover The Lights (September 18th), Redhill Harlequin (19th September), Falmouth Princess Pavilion (1st October), Porthcawl Grand Pavilion (2nd October), Cheltenham Tithe Barn (3rd October), Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall (4th October), Preston Guildhall Charter Theatre (14th October), Ulverston Coronation Hall (15th October), Leamington Spa Assembly Rooms (16th October), Hunstanton Princess Theatre (17th October), Lincoln Drill Hall (22nd October), London Union Chapel (23rd October)




Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
1st June 2015

Missing In Action: JO CALLIS

Without doubt, Jo Callis is one of the unsung heroes of the Synth Britannia era. The Rotherham born guitarist first found fame during the post-punk era with THE REZILLOS.

Formed in Edinburgh where Callis was studying at the local college of art, they scored a Top 20 hit ‘Top Of The Pops’ in 1978. THE REZILLOS fragmented after one album so Callis formed SHAKE and then joined BOOTS FOR DANCING before releasing a solo single ‘Woah Yeah!’ in 1981. His manager when he was in THE REZILLOS was Fast Records supremo Bob Last who also looked after THE HUMAN LEAGUE.

Following the well documented split between Phil Oakey and Adrian Wright with Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh in 1980, the former pair continued as THE HUMAN LEAGUE with Ian Burden recruited as an additional musician plus Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley as backing vocalists.

Despite this line-up recording the band’s first Top 20 hit in ‘The Sound Of The Crowd’ under the production supervision of Martin Rushent in 1981, THE HUMAN LEAGUE felt they could benefit from the input of an experienced songwriter… enter Jo Callis! He joined just in time to record the Top 5 breakthrough single ‘Love Action (I Believe in Love)’ although he did not feature on the single’s cover photo.

His first public outing as a songwriter for THE HUMAN LEAGUE was with the psychedelic synthpop hit ‘Open Your Heart’. The parent album ‘Dare’ was released shortly after and has since being hailed as an iconic recording of the period.

Jo Callis’ three year tenure with THE HUMAN LEAGUE directly contributed to their imperial phase; classic numbers in The League’s catalogue such as ‘Seconds’, ‘Darkness’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘Mirror Man’, ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’, ‘The Lebanon’, ‘Life On Your Own’ and ‘Louise’ were all co-authored by him. But his most famous song with the Sheffield electronic pioneers was ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ which reached No1 in both the UK and US charts.

However, after a difficult gestation for ‘Hysteria’, the follow-up album to ‘Dare’, Callis left THE HUMAN LEAGUE in 1984 to concentrate on his own songwriting.

Post-League, Callis co-wrote FEARGAL SHARKEY’s ‘Loving You’ before partially returning to THE HUMAN LEAGUE in 1990, penning two songs ‘Heart Like A Wheel’ and ‘Get It Right This Time’ for the ‘Romantic?’ album. Another Callis co-write ‘Never Again’ appeared on 1995’s ‘Octopus.

More recently, Callis has been in the news in his adopted homeland as a result of ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ being adopted as a football crowd anthem by the supporters of Aberdeen FC. The song was given a boost in download sales as a result of The Dons victory in the 2014 Scottish League Cup.

With his profile at its highest since his HUMAN LEAGUE days, Callis is about to return to the live circuit with his new band FINGER HALO, playing alongside ANALOG ANGEL at Glasgow’s Classic Grand on FRIDAY 15TH AUGUST 2014. Now well and truly “back-Back-BACK”, he kindly chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about his career.

THE REZILLOS made it into the Top 20 with ‘Top Of The Pops’ in 1978 but briefly, what happened that led you into becoming a free agent in 1981?

THE REZILLOS split up (mid tour) around 1979, probably at my instigation more than anything else. From there, I formed SHAKE along with former REZILLOS rhythm section Ali Paterson and Simon Templar, and remained signed to Sire, THE REZILLOS’ former label. With the addition of Troy Tate (later of TEARDROP EXPLODES fame) on guitar, we released a four track EP followed by a single ‘Invasion Of The Gamma Men’ and gigged quite consistently.

The initial EP was pretty well received and the lead track ‘Culture Shock’ garnered a fair amount of Radio1 airplay. But with little record company support, things eventually just fizzled out. Broke, we eventually parted company with Sire.

From there, I joined local indie leftfield punk / funk outfit BOOTS FOR DANCING, whom I really enjoyed playing with. They could have been contenders, but bottled out of going for gold so to speak, so there was no future there for myself. Around the same time I had also been making in-roads into The League camp, who were in the process of re-inventing themselves after a split up scenario of their own, with a view to help them with new material.

What did you think when you were first offered THE HUMAN LEAGUE job by Bob Last and told you’d have to play a synth?

My memory of events here is that I simply got together with Adrian Wright, whom I was friendly with at the time, in order to do a bit of writing, which led on to my quite significant contributions to THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s canon of tunes. Although, with hindsight, I guess that the ‘svengali’ Bob Last would have certainly been pulling a few strings and making some subliminal suggestions behind the scenes, and certainly encouraging my association with Adrian.

Around that time I was also feeling a little jaded with the guitar, particularly as an instrument for composition, and felt that a change was in order. I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of change, but the opportunity of The League, synths and moving with the times certainly appealed.

Is it true Martyn Ware showed you how to use a synth at Monumental Pictures studio?

Yep, with the then fledgling HEAVEN 17 / BEF still sharing the same studio space as the ‘new’ League, Martyn Ware kindly spent a day running me through all the basics of subtractive synthesis, and also pointing me in the direction of the keyboard playing equivalent to Bert Weedon’s legendary guitar tome ‘Play In A Day’ (in another move encouraged by the venerable Mr. Last no doubt). I had soon purchased a second hand Roland SH09 synth, and began patching away when at home in Edinburgh.

Did you have a favourite synth?

I still have a great love for the old SH09, its big Bro’ the SH2 and its progeny the SH101. But the Roland Juno 106 is still hard to beat. I do still have (hopefully) working examples of ’em all. Although primarily a vintage Roland fan, I do have the odd bit of Korg and Yamaha kit, and of course the wonderfully proletarian Casio VL Tone… required equipment in my League days, we all had one in our make up bags!

Did you ever feel the tension between the two parties as the shifts changed at the studio?

Oh yes, but more in general. We would all hang out together in my early days with The League whilst in Sheffield writing the material that would ultimately comprise ‘Dare’ etc. It all seemed quite light hearted initially, but I was aware of quite deep rooted competition and rivalry between Philip and Martyn. But there was a mutual degree of respect all round.

I had to laugh really, having come out of a fairly similar situation myself recently and being aware that Bob Last had carefully handled THE HUMAN LEAGUE split with the benefit of knowledge gained from the chaotic split up of THE REZILLOS, Bob having managed both bands. So there were no handbags at twenty paces, unlike the biliousness of THE REZILLOS’ break up which was arguably fuelled by the divisive music press of the day – I did feel I was somewhere between a rock and a hard place on occasion though.

What was the creative dynamic between you, Phil Oakey, Adrian Wright and Ian Burden?

With Adrian, I would generally pick out the best of his formative ideas, develop them with him and add parts etc.

Phil and I would often find that we could graft together independent ideas we had, which would compliment each other… or else Phil would add lyrics and melody to one of my backing tracks which would just have a working title – ‘The Lebanon’ for example, came about in this way, even retaining the original title in the finished article.

With Ian, himself being a (very good) bass player and myself a guitarist, we could plug into amps and jam out ideas old school stylee sometimes. And when Jim Russell (originally Martin’s engineer, then later a band member), a seasoned drummer who’d played with the like of CURVED AIR and MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT was around, we’d have a power trio and just jam all day…

Joanne and Susanne contributed to the quality control, they were very down with what was happening in the clubs and what ver kids were digging at the time, so if they liked what they heard, then it was definitely worth persevering with. They were total Duranies then, and had previously been BAY CITY ROLLERS fans (a fine Edinburgh band – check out their version of ‘Rock & Roll Love Letter’). But their big love was JAPAN. Strangely, we seemed to listen to a lot of Grace Jones and JUDAS PRIEST during the writing of ‘Dare’.

What was the first song you wrote for THE HUMAN LEAGUE?

‘Open Your Heart’, if memory serves – originally started on the guitar and provisionally entitled ‘Women & Men’.

Legend has it that Phil freaked when he saw you brandishing a guitar during the recording of ‘Don’t You Want Me?’?

Ha! Axeophobia I believe it’s called, a rare condition and one most unusual in the case of a JUDAS PRIEST and SAXON fan! I remember Phil once saying: “I’d happily have you play the guitar on tour Jo, so long as the jack lead is only six inches long”. Classic! I feel he probably suffered from the much more common complaint; ‘Callisophobia’.

The main riff of ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ was appropriated from the guitar line of ABBA’s ‘Eagle’? Discuss!

Aha! The passage to which you refer to is definitely ABBA inspired and was originally the bassline to the bridge section of ‘DYWM’ – the “Don’t, Don’t You Want Me, You know I don’t belieeve it! Etc” bit. Martin Rushent picked it up and turned it round and made it into the top line of the intro passage… so it’s all his fault, ‘onest Guv!

How do you look back on the ‘Dare’ album now?

With my head tilted to the right, and squinting with one eye. ‘Dare’ was the result of a unique coming together of an unlikely bunch of switched on, eccentric, bloody minded individuals who, against all odds and with no great ‘industry’ expectation, created a truly wonderful work of electro glam pop – timeless, wonderfully sparse, most influential, and a true combined vision, very much the sum of its parts.

How were those ‘Dare’ tour dates, especially with those temperamental synths and taking the Linn Drum Computer out live?

Tours can be the absolute best and worst times of your life condensed into a relatively short period of time – so, careful what you wish for sometimes. We fortunately had a terrific tech and road crew on the ‘Dare’ tour which eased a lot of the potential pain, no MIDI or computer sync in them days. We had to have the Linn Drum reloaded (by cassette tape) half way through the set as its memory could not contain the entire show, we switched to the Roland TR808 for one song during the reboot! The synths all seemed to perform reliably and well, despite the abuse I would give mine on occasion. Made from Tiger tank and Me262 parts them Roland Jupiter 8s!

Things seemed to be going swimmingly for the follow-up album with the releases of ‘Mirror Man’ and ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’, but it all started falling apart around the recording of ‘Hysteria’?

That’s right, it was all taking far too long and frustration was setting in. We had to try and follow the unexpected success of ‘Dare’ and I think a fear of failure began to loom. The pressure maan!

The two versions that were released of ‘I Love You Too Much’ indicated there was some confusion in the band over direction?

That track actually had a synth playing back through a guitar Wah Wah pedal on it – which was my idea. As I recall the first version on the ‘Fascination!’ import EP was produced by Martin Rushent and the ‘Hysteria’ version was by Chris Thomas… or was it Hugh Padgham?

‘The Lebanon’ had a bit of a mixed reaction didn’t it?

I love a bit of contention, it was pretty much guitar driven, which is down to me again, but I think it sat okay in The League repertoire and Phil was actually quite enthusiastic about the style and direction it took. It went down well with the BIG COUNTRY / SIMPLE MINDS / U2 crowd of the time, almost a bit of a crossover track. The music press of the day, particularly the NME were fond of ripping the pish out of the lyrics, but in a very affectionate and ‘onside’ way. I still think it’s possibly the strongest tune on ‘Hysteria’, and one I’m very satisfied with personally.

Martin Rushent left the sessions apparently over something Susanne said… what was the straw that broke the camel’s back in your case?

I tried so hard to keep everyone together at that time, we weren’t too far away from having a follow-up album finished with Martin, I thought I’d managed to patch the ship up so to speak at one point, but things soon fell apart again.

Do you look on the ‘Hysteria’ period with much affection?

Not greatly.

When THE HUMAN LEAGUE said they wouldn’t tour ‘Hysteria’ because they couldn’t perform your songs without you, what that just an excuse on their part?

Never heard that one before… dunno really.

You sort of returned for ‘Romantic?’ in 1990… how did you come to contribute ‘Heart Like A Wheel’? and ‘Get It Right This Time’ ?

I’d always left things open ended, and had said I’d always be happy to contribute to writing at any time. I did initially offer them a song called ‘One For The Angels’ for ‘Crash’, the album after ‘Hysteria’, but they didn’t take it – perhaps not quite enough water had passed under the bridge by then, but I’d had such a good response from publishers etc.

With ‘Heart Like A Wheel’, and having been working a lot myself on various projects with Martin Rushent at Genetic Studios around that time, when The League came to thinking about the follow up to ‘Crash’ (which would become ‘Romantic?’), I thought there might be a good opportunity to try and get ‘the old team’ back together again, which I did manage to achieve for a couple of tunes at least. I was kind of middle man there, having a foot in both camps – helping The League out with a bit of writing now and then, and working on various production / writing projects with Martin.

I also co-wrote ‘Never Again’ with Phil for the ‘Octopus’ album, and will be revisiting ‘One For The Angels’ with my new band FINGER HALO!

With Martin Rushent on board, it looked like there was an attempt to recapture the magic of ‘Dare’. But why did things not really work out with that album as a whole either? Any thoughts?

As an addendum to the previous question; I had hoped to resurrect ‘The Old Brigade’, for the entire album, but I think Phil wanted to experiment with different producers, doing a couple of tracks with each. ‘Heart Like A Wheel’ did well for all concerned I think, so it often pays to not burn bridges… and ‘Never Say Never Again’.

Mention must go to Martin Rushent, now sadly departed. A true maverick, a passionate if headstrong fellow and one of the greatest cutting edge producers of all time. He always followed his gut instincts which invariably led him in the right direction. I learned so much from Martin and he was great fun to work with.

Noddy Holder describes ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ as his pension, is it like that for you with ‘Don’t You Want Me?’?

As a huge SLADE fan, Noddy is seldom wrong, These days, I tend to view ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ more as a kind of capital investment, to trade with. In basic, cynical economic terms, ‘DYWM’ to me is something akin to what Cornflakes are to The Kellogg company.

You are still active in music, what are your upcoming plans?


What would you consider your proudest achievement?

An old acquaintance of mine who served with The Royal Marines during The Falklands campaign told me that he had The League song ‘Seconds’ running through his head all through the conflict, which helped him keep focus and get through serious life or death circumstances.

That instance in particular, and other, albeit rare, occasions when somebody has remarked that your music has had a positive impact on their lives, are moments when I realise that what we do, we happy band of wandering minstrels, really can have great value to humanity, and it’s not just about self indulgently fannying about, having more control over our lives and never having to grow up, as I might have previously thought. I speak for all performers, entertainers, composers, authors and artists. I think we oil the wheels of life in many respects.

And as the Big Man Winston Churchill once said: “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work again” – now there’s an achievement in itself! These are the things that dreams are made of (and nightmares sometimes but…)

And finally, why do you think guitar synths never really caught on?

Quite simply Chi, I think that the technology had moved so rapidly then that you could use a regular guitar, with a few ‘bolt ons’, and pretty much do anything that a dedicated synth guitar could do.

Also a lot of guitar players who loved the ‘Synth Guitar’ idea didn’t really think that the instruments themselves were particularly good as guitars. That Roland G-77 looked really cool though, but they never made a left handed version, the c***s!

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Jo Callis

Special thanks to Ian Ferguson

FINGER HALO featuring Jo Callis play the Classic Grand, 18 Jamaica Street, Glasgow G1 4QD on FRIDAY 15TH AUGUST 2014 alongside ANALOG ANGEL




Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
30th July 2014

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