Tag: Stephen Emmer

A Short Conversation with MIDGE URE

MIDGE URE needs no introduction as one of the most highly regarded elder statesmen of the British music scene.

Having become fascinated by KRAFTWERK when they hit the UK charts with ‘Autobahn’, he purchased his first synth, a Yamaha CS50 in 1977 and eventually became a prime mover in helping electronic music gain a mainstream acceptance in the UK.

Through his work as a member of VISAGE and ULTRAVOX, songs such as ‘Sleepwalk’, ‘Vienna’, ‘Fade To Grey’, ‘Mind Of A Toy’, ‘The Voice’, ‘The Anvil’, ‘Hymn’, ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’ and ‘Love’s Great Adventure’ have since become recognised standards in Synth Britannia folklore. During this period, he also produced tracks for FATAL CHARM, PETER GODWIN, RONNY and MESSENGERS.

MIDGE URE Photo by George Hurrell

Photo by George Hurrell

Previously, he’d been a member of THE RICH KIDS and had worked with THIN LIZZY and THE SKIDS. And all this is without mentioning his three UK No1s with SLIK, BAND AID and as a solo artist, plus his charity work with the Band Aid Trust, the Prince’s Trust and Save The Children. The last few years have been particularly busy for MIDGE URE. A regular on the live circuit with his endearingly intimate acoustic gigs featuring career highlights in stripped back form, he also undertook a number of key collaborations in Europe with acts such as X-PERIENCE, SCHILLER and JAM & SPOON. There was of course his own covers album ’10’ in 2009 with Ure’s emotively respectful takes on Peter Green’s ‘Man Of The World’ and Freddie Mercury’s ‘Nevermore’.

But his most high profile project was the reformation of the classic ULTRAVOX line-up. His successful live reunion with Warren Cann, Chris Cross and Billy Currie in 2009 subsequently led to the recording of 2012’s ‘Brilliant’ album. An impressive collection of songs by any standard, the songs ranged from the motorik stomp of ‘Live’ and the ‘U-Vox’ gone right melodic rock of ‘Lie'<, to the pulsing electronica of ‘Rise’ and the Odyssey laden ‘Change’. It was a highly apt return as ULTRAVOX’s biggest legacy has probably been the stadium pomp of MUSE… just listen to ‘Apocalypse Please’, ‘Starlight’ and ‘Guiding Light’ if any proof is needed.

2014 has seen Ure contribute to the orchestrated great adventure of ‘International Blue’, an album celebrating the art of the crooner. Assembled by Dutch composer Stephen Emmer, the album also features Ure’s old pal Glenn Gregory from HEAVEN 17. With the release of Ure’s song ‘Taking Back My Time’ as a single and his first solo album of original material in 12 years ‘Fragile’ about to be unleashed, MIDGE URE kindly chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK at the world famous Abbey Road Studios about both projects and what the future may hold for ULTRAVOX…

MIDGE URE Taking Back My TimeHow did it feel to be working with an orchestra again on ‘Taking Back My Time’, having done so previously on ‘All In One Day’ and at the ‘Night Of The Proms’ concerts in Germany?

This is slightly different. Stephen Emmer did all the arrangements for the ‘International Blue’ album so I was presented with a backing track that he’d fine honed and worked on. He thought my voice and my style of melody and lyric writing would suit this project.

This is very grown up stuff, it’s really complicated, beautiful musical arrangements… so to sing a track like that, it was an absolute joy because I didn’t do it the same way I would normally approach one of my songs; it was a different key for me, I sing it much lower so it’s a different vocal range and you can hear that.

Were there any particular classic reference points you used for ‘Taking Back My Time’?

Not really… I mean the chord structure and arrangement that Stephen already had were so reminiscent of the Burt Bacharach school of songwriting, that whole Scott Walker thing, the melody instantly came into place so my process of writing for this took maybe two or three days so it wasn’t a huge amount of time to sit there and do it. My big worry was that I wasn’t going to do Stephen’s backing track justice. So I had to make sure I was singing something that was solid and informative plus had interesting plays on words and subject matter. But the melody itself had to embellish and compliment what he’d already put there.

_BOOKLET_v4.inddYou have a new solo album ‘Fragile’ coming out soon. How would you describe it?

I describe it as wearing my musical influences on my sleeve. There are elements of prog rock, a lot of electronics, a lot of electric guitar… it’s very difficult for me to say what it is but if one of the tracks came on right now, you would know it’s me… you’d know from the melodies, counter-melodies, structures and vocals of course. So it’s very definably me. In a way, it’s a much more grown up record than anything I’ve done before. It’s been worked on over a period of maybe twelve or thirteen years,

There’s a song ‘Let It Rise’ which you originally did with SCHILLER. How have you reworked it to suit your own style?

SCHILLER’s got his very own, very good and distinctive style which is much more of a laid back, trip-hop dance thing. And although when we wrote it, the track suited his style incredibly well, I thought I could take it back again and turn it into something that’s much more me which is precisely what I’ve done.

One of the highlights of ‘Fragile’ entitled ‘Become’ is another of the songs that’s been around?

It’s the first single… that’s kind of harking back to early VISAGE.

You had originally offered ‘Become’ for the VISAGE comeback album?

I decided not to get involved when originally Rusty Egan and Steve Strange looked like they were getting VISAGE back together again. But when Rusty wanted to start playing around with remixes using modern electronic computer recording techniques, he asked if I had anything so I gave him ‘Become’. He started playing around with it and changing it; but I kept saying to him “Rusty, I will finish that at some point, it’s just something for you to dabble with”! Then it was going to be a track with Steve singing on it, it was going to be a VISAGE track, it was going to be this, it was going to be that… eventually, I said “it’s mine, I’m gonna finish it!” – Rusty is more than welcome to take it down the route he was taking it, but it’s a very different track to the one I finished, although they were conceived from the same idea.

international-blue-06You also worked with MOBY on this album?

Yes, the track is called ‘Dark Dark Night’ and it was originally going to be for MOBY’s last album… but in true MIDGE URE style, by the time I’d finished it, MOBY’s album was out! So I converted it and turned it into my thing. I’ve never met MOBY or spoke to him, but we’ve got an email / tweeting relationship, so he asked me to do a modern collaboration and that was one of the songs he sent over.

I’ve run it past him, he absolutely loves it and more than happy that I’ve put it on ‘Fragile’. I’m touring in America during the summer and he’s coming to the show at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, so I’ll finally meet up with him.

Is there a concept behind ‘Fragile’?

Yes, subject matter-wise, I always think of an album as a diary and about what affects you. The period, between this album and the last one ‘Move Me’, is such a long period that there have been many highs and many lows during it. So I just documented most things. Some of the songs were starting to be conceived way back then, but I never completed them until the last couple of months, so the whole thing still is coherent and works as a unit, as an album. I’ve started playing with instrumental music again, it’s fairly diverse and very distinctly me.

Photo by Simon Watson Photography

It’s been 12 years since ‘Move Me’ and you’ve mentioned that part of the delay has been the frustration of the modern music industry. What are your hopes and fears regarding the future… if there is one in the conventional sense?

I can’t predict how it is going to go but I can’t imagine it’s going to get any worse in the industry. We seem to have gone through a massive period of mediocrity while there’s still been some great music, writers and musicians out there.

But they seem to be buried under this sea of apathy. I think that the more people understand that the industry as we knew it has completely and utterly gone, then they have to start to do what I’ve had to do for the last thirty years, which is learning how it all works.

So on the ‘Fragile’ album, not only have I played 99% of the instruments, I’ve engineered it, I’ve produced it, I’ve mixed it, shot a video and edited it… you have to be a kind of king of many things. You have to understand how it all works, because there aren’t people out there to do it all for you. There are no budgets out there to throw money at the wall and hoping it will stick! You have to get it right for you, first and foremost. I’m a firm believer that if you absolutely are convinced it’s right, other people will get it.

Photo by Chi Ming Lai

You did some dates with ULTRAVOX supporting SIMPLE MINDS in Autumn 2013… was that to test the water with the view to ULTRAVOX continuing in the future at some point, or just some fun?

I think the ULTRAVOX thing, as we said from day one when we got back together, was that we’ve opened doors now that were certainly closed before. And now ULTRAVOX can just sit on a shelf until we find something that interests us to do.

The idea of just going out every year and doing another tour / another tour / another tour kinda is self defeating because it’s a case of diminishing returns… the more often you go out, the less people will go and see you and it becomes a bit pathetic. And we never set out to make it anything pathetic. We want to keep it quality and keep it right. So it’s still sitting there, still breathing, we’re just waiting for a breath of life to spark it back into action again.

midge & bobThe 30th Anniversary of the original BAND AID recording is approaching. Are there any plans to officially commemorate it?

You know what? I honestly have absolutely no idea! There are no plans to do any celebratory 30th Anniversary things. We did Live8 ten years ago, we did BAND AID20 ten years ago… there was talk of a new version of the song, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

But watch this space, who knows?


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to MIDGE URE

Special thanks to Sacha Taylor-Cox at Impressive PR

‘Fragile’ is released by Hypertension Music on 7th July 2014. Further information can be found at http://www.midgeure.hypertension-music.de/

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midge-Ure/275159919205373


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
23rd June 2014

STEPHEN EMMER International Blue Album Launch at Abbey Road Studios

Dutch composer Stephen Emmer’s new album ‘International Blue’ was launched at the world famous Abbey Road Studios with a special live revue featuring its four vocalists Glenn Gregory, Neil Crossley, Liam McKahey and Midge Ure.

The album is in Stephen Emmer’s words “a humble, but yet ambitious project”, bringing back “the lost art of crooning”. Produced by Tony Visconti whose credits have included David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Morrissey, he first picked up on Stephen Emmer’s music via MySpace.

Unable to be present at the event, via a video address, Visconti discussed how he first worked with the Dutchman on the 2008 spoken word album ‘Recitement’ which featured none other than Lou Reed and how he fell in love with Emmer’s cinematic style of composition. He described the songs on ‘International Blue’ as being “well written from a deep tradition of classic standard songwriting” that have “the signature of the crooner stamped all over it”. “The songs are off the beaten track” he added “and not straightforward love songs”, concurring with Emmer’s view that there has always been a spiritual connection between the vocalists of the Post-Punk era and the classic singers of the past such as Frank Sinatra and Scott Walker.

Proceedings in the legendary Studio 2 opened with Glenn Gregory’s tribute to the late Billy Mackenzie entitled ‘Untouchable’ which evoked the haunting drama that the man born William would have been proud of. It has been the calling card for a collection of great ballads that would stand up in any genre. Neil Crossley’s ‘Sleep For England’ interestingly took on more starker tones as one of the album’s more electronically assisted, but still lushly organic numbers. The stylishly quiffed Liam McKahey, formerly of COUSTEAU, rose to the occasion with an intriguing take on the crooner on ‘Blown Away’ in the manner of David Bowie covering Scott Walker. “I didn’t mean to…” the Irishman said later, “…but I’ll take that!”

A big cheer greeted Midge Ure as the diminutive Glaswegian jokingly manhandled a mic stand clearly set up for the considerably taller Glenn Gregory! His track ‘Taking Back My Time’ is clearly an emotive statement of intent on Ure’s part.

His adoption of a lower vocal register affirmed his love of Scott Walker which has been well documented via his 1982 cover of ‘No Regrets’ and ULTRAVOX’s own string laden ‘All In One Day’ in 1986. Coincidentally, his first solo album of new material in 12 years called ‘Fragile’ is out soon.

Liam McKahey returned with ‘Mama’s Mad’, another excellent Bowie / Walker hybrid complimented with a dash of MASSIVE ATTACK. With his own music leaning towards Americana, he clearly found crooning again a re-enlightening experience back to his COUSTEAU roots; he even revealed an interest in collaborating within the field of laid back electronica; “I really like ZERO 7… their music lends itself to good singing” he said afterwards.

The showcase concluded with Glenn Gregory giving a spirited rendition of ‘Let The Silence Hold You’, the second of four tracks featuring his dulcet tones on ‘International Blue’. Indeed, Gregory’s songs on the ‘International Blue’ album are perhaps the ones which the album hangs itself on. ‘A Break In The Weather’ for example reimagines ‘Wild Is The Wind’ as a John Barry era Bond theme, while ‘In The Mirror Reflected’ captures the spirited piano intro of Dusty Springfield’s version of ‘Going Back’ and references ‘To Sir With Love’ in the chorus.

Overall, it has been great to be hear Gregory perform all-new material again and this experience certainly bodes well for the new HEAVEN 17 album which is currently being recorded.

For Glenn Gregory himself, a possible career as a 21st Century crooner is beckoning if all else fails. Either that, or he will become a Bowie impersonator as his upcoming Autumn shows with Tony Visconti, Woody Woodmansey and Steve Norman performing ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ album will indicate 😉

Afterwards, all the protagonists mingled with press and punters alike; and it was here that ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK caught up with Stephen Emmer for a quick chat about how he got into composing orchestrated pop and how this all related to his intriguing musical past…

You were in the band MINNY POPS who supported JOY DIVISION in 1980 at that gig in Bury where the riot took place?

Yes, we were touring the UK and Europe as support to JOY DIVISION, but we weren’t aware at the time of the troubles internally with Ian Curtis’ health and all of that. What happened, was there was this sold out gig in Bury and we knew Ian wouldn’t be performing as he was ill. But the crowd obviously found out when he didn’t appear for the JOY DIVISION set. Back then, gigs were far more aggressive so if people didn’t like you, they would bottle you! We were not bottled and after we had done our slot, we went down to the dressing room. Then JOY DIVISON’s manager Rob Gretton, who sadly is no longer with us, suddenly shouted “BLOCK YER FOOKIN’ DOOR!” in his Mancunian accent, which for us Dutch was hard to understand and decipher! We were like “WHAT?!” *laughs*

Shortly after that, the audience got onto the stage and showed their dismay that Ian Curtis wasn’t going to perform by having some huge fights in the corridor by the dressing room! We could hear all of it but luckily, we had our door barricaded! When it was all over, we came out and that was that. We didn’t think much of it at the time, but it was only later that this whole anecdote has become of such cultural significance.

Really, it was just an evening with a bit of an incident that has become part of rock history! However, MINNY POPS are not included in that scene from the ‘Control’ film, but the director Anton Corbijn… he got to know JOY DIVISION through us!!

You have four great vocalists on ‘International Blue’, but would Ian Curtis have fitted in with this project had he been around today?

That’s a good question, I think so… the sonority of New Wave singing with electro bands has always intrigued me. I was a part-time journalist then back in Holland with a magazine called ‘Vinyl’, but nobody within journalism ever saw the relationship between these singers like Ian Curtis doing things like ‘She’s Lost Control’ with that low voice and Frank Sinatra… it’s like Sinatra but more dark! So it dawned on me that these singers, they should perform that kind of material and I could write for them. And that’s how ‘International Blue’ got started. It’s a bit more remote from New Wave but still a little electronic alongside the orchestral; it is very logical that these are the kind of singers who suit this genre best.

stephen emmer vogue estateYou started as a guitarist with MINNY POPS, so how did you branch into orchestrations? Are you classically trained?

No, I’m not… after all the electronic pop music I did with ASSOCIATES, THE LOTUS EATERS and ACT in the UK, I went back to Holland doing assignments for TV themes, documentaries, film and commercials. What I learnt there was you have to arrange in every genre. Tony Visconti gave me a great compliment and said “Stephen Emmer as an arranger and composer, knows the rules best through that experience in media music – so he also knows how to use, or not use a cliché in music”.

So I made a very thorough study of arranging with an orchestra, although my pedigree is in electronics. I had a solo record in 1982 called ‘Vogue Estate’ which featured Billy Mackenzie and Martha Ladly. It was produced by Michael Dempsey who was in THE CURE and ASSOCIATES with this young guy called Flood who is now a legend!

Is there any other New Wave vocalist you would like to have worked with on ‘International Blue’?

Yes, in fact I bumped into him last night as we were eating in the same restaurant… he was on my list but it didn’t come off! I’d never met him before but I decided to go up to him… it was Ian McCulloch of ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN. He has this Jim Morrison type of voice that I would like to work with… so we might do so in the future.

international-blue-01The album’s lead single ‘Untouchable’ is about Billy Mackenzie. What was it like working with him?

He was a very sweet guy and a true gypsy at heart. When we recorded together on the track ‘Wish On’ from ‘Vogue Estate’, we weren’t sure he was going to show up because he was very random in his behaviour. He arrived, but when it was his turn to sing, we saw he was underneath a table in the mixing room with a bottle of blackcurrant and rum fast asleep! He woke up and apologised, sung the song and left half drunk! *laughs*

Warner Brothers had invested a lot of money in him and thought he would become the next David Bowie, but he was more of an artist’s artist. He suffered from being pushed into the realm of bigger gigs and all of that.

It’s a shame, because out of most of the vocalists of that period, only he could take a TR808 and have a vocal battle with it… which vocalist would do that? He was great!

If Billy Mackenzie had been able to adopt a more conventional approach to being a pop star, do you think ASSOCIATES could have been as big as A-HA?

I think so… coincidentally, Morten Harket recently asked me to write a song for him.


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to STEPHEN EMMER

Special thanks also to Sacha Taylor-Cox at Impressive PR

STEPHEN EMMER’s ‘International Blue’ is released on 7th July 2014 via Electric Fairytale Recordings

http://www.stephenemmer.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Chi Ming Lai
16th June 2014

Untouchable: A Short Conversation with GLENN GREGORY

This month sees the launch of a new project created by Dutch film composer Stephen Emmer, a one-time member of MINNY POPS, whose previous collaborators have included Billy Mackenzie and Lou Reed on his solo albums ‘Vogue Estate’ (1982) and ‘Recitement’ (2008) respectively.

He also worked with Claudia Brücken on the ACT album ‘Laughter, Tears & Rage’.

Titled ‘International Blue’, the album is a concept that pays homage to the art of the pop crooner, but with a twist. So imagine a combination of Burt Bacharach, Scott Walker, Nick Cave and David Bowie.

Produced by Tony Visconti whose work with David Bowie and Marc Bolan had gone down in legend, the orchestral collection connects with the Synth Britannia world via the casting of HEAVEN 17’s Glenn Gregory and ULTRAVOX’s Midge Ure among its line-up of guest vocalists.

The first single ‘Untouchable’ featuring Glenn Gregory is a poignant ballad of loss and heartbreak; it has also been written as a tribute to the late Billy Mackenzie of ASSOCIATES, a mutual friend of both Emmer and Gregory. Recorded at the world famous Abbey Road Studios, the song is swathed in multilayered textures and smooth reverb to provide a perfect setting for celebration as well as remembrance.

Glenn Gregory kindly took time out from recording the new HEAVEN 17 album to chat about his three contributions to the album, Billy Mackenzie and why pop, not rock, rules…

How did the collaboration with Stephen come about?

It was a Facebook thing funnily enough! I got a message from Stephen who had this connected past from working with Billy Mackenzie and Claudia Brücken. He suggested working together and sent me a link to two spoken word albums. They had really interesting people on like Lou Reed and I thought “I love the sound of this, it’s really lush and interesting”.

We got on very well on the telephone and spoke for two hours. We knew a lot of the same people so I was surprised we’d never met before. He sent me a track and recording went very well, I was pleased with the vocal. Shortly after that he sent me another one which then became ‘A Break In The Weather’ and that was even better as we had got a bit of rapport by then as we’d talked about the art of the crooner, Scott Walker and how beautiful those type of songs are. There was no consideration for making it suitable for radio, it was “it goes where it goes” and that freedom was really nice. It got me into a different way of thinking.

Then he sent me this third track ‘Untouchable’… I immediately fell in love with it, it was lush and emotive. I started thinking about the people that both me and Stephen had known, and Billy Mackenzie came up.

‘Untouchable’ pays tribute to Billy and starts with the lyric: “The cup is smashed…” – what was in your mind?

Stephen loved HEAVEN 17’s version of ‘Party Fears Two’ and I started writing these lyrics that were becoming about Billy. That line is obviously a throwback to “I’ll smash another cup…” and it’s carrying on from ‘Party Fears Two’ really. I found it very emotional in the studio and when I was singing it, I actually shed a tear and wondering how he got to that stage where he could commit suicide. I know why as he was upset and depressed after his mother had died, but I was trying to be inside his train of thought really. Billy changed a lot through his career and as a person. But his beauty and his talent, it’s untouchable.

I sang it and really liked the lead vocal but then I started playing with different notes, melodies and harmonies. Then I got really big and pushing my range… I was almost fainting doing the vocal! I thought it was fantastic and sent it to Stephen, he was blown away. We had another two hour phone call at the end of that day to decompress. He thought it was wonderful and understood why I liked it so much. I’m really happy we got it together.

What’s your favourite personal memory of Billy Mackenzie?

You know he was completely into Whippets and bred them? ASSOCIATES lived in a hotel round the corner from me and the whippets had their own room! It’s crazy!

So my favourite memory was when we were mixing ‘The Secret Life Of Arabia’ for the BEF album – Billy came in and went “one of my daughters has had a puppy, do you want one?”, I went “NO! I DON’T BLOODY WANT ONE!”. This went on and on and I said “NO!”, so he eventually he went “oh, no worries”.

But that night, we were going to a screening of ‘The Comic Strip Presents’ at The Scala Cinema in Kings Cross. We were stood in the bar chatting with Rik Mayall and Robbie Coltrane when Billy arrived in a big overcoat and his black beret. We said hello and he went “Alright… by the way Glenn, I brought you a present” and took out from under his coat, this tiny whippet puppy… I was like “BILLY!!! F*CK OFF!” but I thought “I’m never gonna get out of this one!”

So the dog stayed with us all night and wandered around the cinema, p*ssing and sh*tting everywhere! But I fell in love with it and I am now on my fourth Whippet. I’m as much in love with them as he was. In fact, the Whippet I’ve got now is called Billy… we got him about two months after Billy had died. But of course, I then had to phone Billie Godfrey, HEAVEN 17’s backing singer to tell her “I’m calling my dog Billy, but not after you, I hope you don’t mind” *laughs*

You’re no stranger to working with an orchestra having done so on ‘The Luxury Gap’, ‘How Men Are’ and more recently, on the ‘Night Of The Proms’ shows in Germany… what are the main challenges for you working within an orchestral format compared with electronics?

I don’t really think there are many. When you do it live, I guess you’ve got to be more flexible in that the orchestra is more in control than you are. When you have a band and you make mistakes or change things, the band can catch up with what you are doing. But you can’t really do that with an orchestra. When we did the ‘Night Of The Proms’ things in Germany, it was amazing but quickly, you realise you are not in control at all, you’ve got to do what they do at their tempo, you’re being conducted as it were. But in a recording environment, there’s no real difference at all apart from the lush beauty that it brings…but that’s not saying electronics doesn’t have a lush beauty as well.

One of the other songs you’ve done with Stephen is called ‘A Break In The Weather’ which has a sort of ‘Wild Is The Wind’ meets Bond Theme quality about it. What was the inspiration behind this?

I was thinking of Scott Walker and Burt Bacharach, interesting songs like that and that style of writing. I was trying to find a connection, I had a melody and everything but then I took the dog for a walk in the park. It was cold and the sky opened up and I thought “we need a break in the weather”. So I got inspired to write about a relationship that needs some space when there’s been a break up and there’s the hope of getting back together.

You recorded ‘It Was A Very Good Year’ for BEF ‘Dark’ which follows similar territory. Has there always been a Scott Walker wanting to fire escape in the sky? *laughs*

I’ve always been a really big fan of crooners, my mum had an enormous collection of Anthony Newley singles and was really into Dean Martin. I remember I was listening to them even when I was starting to get into KRAFTWERK and NEU!

So it’s always been there. The way I sing anyway, people always used to say I sounded a bit like a crooner, that baritone type thing. I like pop and Dusty Springfield… even Cilla Black. They’re just good songs, it’s good to have that sensibility. It’s pop, not rock. I was never into The Stones, I don’t really get them. I’d much rather listen to Scott Walker or Anthony Newley.

What was it like working with Tony Visconti?

That was amazing, what a nice guy. We were at Abbey Road together and he told me some great stories.

How was the Koko concert with HEAVEN 17 doing that early HUMAN LEAGUE material for you?

We really enjoyed that Virgin40 gig. I completely loved it. It was a challenge doing those songs to make them sound as much like the original ones but then, it is different because I’m singing them and not Phil. Mine and Phil’s voices are pretty similar in a lot of ways so they did kind of fit. You know I love those songs. Every time I see Phil, I plead with him to do those first two HUMAN LEAGUE albums, just even if it’s once!

Did you hear about the HEAVEN 17 fan who complained to Koko’s manager about you doing HUMAN LEAGUE songs?

Yes I did! What can I say? He did come to see HEAVEN 17 so I can understand him being a bit p*ssed off. But there’s a total history line there all the way through even to the extent that there was a possibility that If I’d had not gone to London, I would have been the singer with THE HUMAN LEAGUE originally.

So there really is a complete line of history through the whole thing and most HEAVEN 17 fans know that; there’s a shared love of those two bands so I think most people enjoyed it.

Is there a HUMAN LEAGUE song from that era that you haven’t performed yet but would like to give a go?

I think ‘Dreams Of Leaving’ would be right there on the list. In fact, Martyn Ware and I talked about that in the studio a few weeks ago so you never know! We toyed with ‘I Don’t Depend On You’ for the BEF weekender at The Roundhouse but I don’t know why we didn’t do it. That came on my iPod the other day on shuffle and it sounded great. I was actually there when they recorded that one. They always used to stay at my house when they came to London… house??? That sounds very grand! They actually used to stay in my basement flat and sleep on the floor! *laughs*

And how is recording of the new HEAVEN 17 album coming along?

At the moment, it’s fairly loose… I’m doing that deliberately, the drum tracks are very basic and I’d say as guide, the tracks are more like the electronic side of ‘Penthouse & Pavement’ than ‘The Luxury Gap’ or ‘How Men Are’. Whether it will when we’ve finished, I don’t know. It’s feeling more ‘Travelogue’ era HUMAN LEAGUE / initial ‘Penthouse & Pavement’. It’s going to get pulled both ways so it could be a bit funky as well like early PRINCE.

We usually only do three or four days together and then do the rest on our own because you need time to focus on what you’re doing. Otherwise you take turns at being sat behind the other and going “DO THIS! DO THAT!” *laughs*


ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Glenn Gregory

Special thanks to Sacha Taylor-Cox at Impressive PR

‘Untouchable’ by Stephen Emmer & Glenn Gregory is released on 7th April 2014 and available via the usual digital outlets

Stephen Emmer’s album ‘International Blue’ featuring further songs by Glenn Gregory plus Midge Ure and Liam McKahey is due out later in 2014

http://www.stephenemmer.com/

http://www.heaven17.com/


Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
7th April 2014, updated 4th May 2014