Erasure Interview - Erasure tour 'a chance to catch up'
They may not be the heroes they once were, but Erasure are still going strong. With a new album on the way Lynette Alcock spoke to Vince Clarke about 20 years of pop.
For the man behind Depeche Mode's Just Can't Get Enough and Yazoo's Only You, as well as countless Erasure classics, Vince Clarke is surprisingly down to earth.
Despite a successful recording career spanning more than 20 years and being one half of the most successful duo of all time, Vince is as keen to talk about his love of rambling as he is his music.
But even in Erasure's heyday, the Basildon boy was never keen to push himself forward – always straight-faced behind a keyboard while Andy Bell talked through the band's latest successes.
It seems Vince, now 44, was never destined for pop stardom, but more for a secluded home and a studio big enough to get lost in – or, at least, that's what he has achieved.
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Speaking from his home in Maine, USA, newly-married Vince is the first to admit that the halcyon days of Eighties Erasure are over, but Erasure is still very much alive and kicking.
“Obviously we are not going to be selling as many records as we were in the Eighties and we are not so in the public eye, but we are older now,” he says. “I mean, we are both old geezers now and we don't tend to take ourselves so seriously.
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“But we are always writing. We both get a lot of pleasure out of writing and recording material. It is always nice to produce something from nothing as it is an incredible feeling,” he says.
Erasure's latest album, Nightbird, is released this month followed by a month-long tour of the UK. For Andy and Vince, who live on opposite sides of the Atlantic, it is chance to catch up.
“We only really get together when we are working,” says Vince musing on why the duo have stayed together for so long. “But that is nice,” he adds. “Because then it is like we are meeting for the first time all over again and I think that is why when it comes to song writing it is always fresh. It is still very exciting for the both of us.
“We have never fallen out. In fact, we have never had an argument,” he says. “Andy is a very chilled person, much more chilled than I was when we first met and I think that calmness has affected me,” he laughs.
“For both of us now nothing is that important. If one of us has an idea the other one hates, we just drop it. We don't get het-up about it and neither of us are precious anymore.
He adds: “Hopefully we are better songwriters now, the arrangements and melodies are better on this new album. It is more electronic and more optimistic and upbeat album than our last one which was a bit gloomy.”
From Vince's stage persona it would be fair to assume that he seldom smiles and spends most of his time locked in a studio with a collection of synthesisers. However, Vince is quick to dispel these myths.
“I'm not grumpy on stage,” he protests. “I'm just scared out of my wits. All I do is worry that something is going to break down.
“I like touring, but actually during the concert I'm just nervous. We use a lot of technical equipment and I worry it will go wrong. I mean, a lot of times it does go wrong, but it has never broke down completely. After we have come off stage I am always grinning and saying that was great.
“Plus Andy is a really good frontman so I let him get on with bouncing about,” he says.
So, as Vince prepares for a month of terror which will see Erasure play a sell-out gig at Norwich UEA fans should be prepared for a bit of everything from this latest show.
“We will be playing stuff from Nightbird as well as some of the old stuff. We have so many albums to choose from now.
“I like playing the old stuff. I think Andy gets a bit tired of singing it, but I like it when people sing along,” he says.
t Since this interview Andy Bell has announced that he has contracted HIV. Poignantly, during the interview, Vince told me he could never imagine working with anyone else. “The only person I write songs with is Andy, I can't imagine doing it with someone else. You have to put away your shyness when you are writing together and to find a person you can really do that with is a rare thing,” he said.
t Event, in association with the Union of UEA Students is giving away five pairs of tickets to see Erasure when they play their sell-out gig at UEA, Norwich on Friday March 18 to the first five entries out of the bag that correctly answer the following question: Name the latest Erasure single.
Send your answer on a postcard, to arrive by Saturday January 29, to Colin Wilson, Event/Erasure Competition, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE. You can e-mail your answer to email@example.com