Ipswich: Regent-bound Pat Kane of Hue and Cry and Peter Cox of Go West chat to Event
- Credit: Archant
With millions of album sales and countless hit records between them, 1980s stars Go West, Hue and Cry and The Christians have joined forces for a major new UK tour. Entertainment writer Wayne Savage talks to Hue and Cry’s Pat Kane while Martin Hutchinson catches up with Go West’s Peter Cox.
“I think one of the worst ideas ever in rock ‘n’ roll has been the concept of the superband so I don’t think that would happen,” says Kane when I ask if we can expect a massive jam at the Ipswich Regent on October 27. “If Stevie Wonder and Elvis Costello phoned me up and said ‘did you want to join’ I might consider it. Other than that it’s not generally a good idea,” he laughs.
“I think we’ll all probably start off doing things for ourselves because we all want to give each other that degree of mutual respect. We’ll see how it evolves over the course of the tour. A song like Labour of Love, which is a big song, is actually powerful done acoustically but it might be better done with the whole band so that might be something we agree to do but we’ll see... we won’t force it, if it happens naturally then that’s great.”
Kane says it’ll be quite a nice balance overall for audiences, with a kicking opening by The Christians, a contemplative acoustic set from him and brother Greg followed by the full band sound of Go West.
They’re no strangers to each other, having crossed paths at recent festivals and back in the day.
“Between us we’ll probably have, I guess, 90 years,” he laughs, “of being in the music business if you add it all up, maybe a century, we all know how to do it sustainably if you know what I mean, how to maintain our voices, when to be excessive and when not to be. It’s long tour, 35 dates or so, so we do need to properly pace ourselves.
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“I don’t think we’re going to be like The Monkees, we’re not going to be living out of each others’ hotel rooms. I think it’ll be a very elegant, smoking jacket style tour I think. Middle-aged male elegance floating about all over the place.”
Huge in the 1980s, the Kane brothers blazed back in 2008 with Open Soul and it’s been nonstop since. Last year’s Hot Wire was well received, although Kane says Open Soul was as good if not better. Their strength, he adds, lies in their consistency over the years.
“We’ve maintained our mixing together of jazz, soul and great songwriting. We’ve always drawn on great jazz musicians to make that happen. The difference between 25 years ago when Remote came out - with Looking for Linda, Violently and all that stuff - and now is not so much the approach but the musicians we paid a fortune for, who were the best jazz musicians in the world, were in New York. You can now find (them) in Glasgow and Edinburgh if you throw a stone in the street, it’s just an incredibly talented part of the world.”
He’s quick to point out that even when it was said they were out of the game, they were still making records; although for more jazz and alternative labels.
“We have a body of work, we have close to 300 songs we’ve written over the years; each one of which we take incredibly seriously and we’re very proud of.”
Never afraid to experiment musically, Hue and Cry are also proud of their music saying something about the times we live in.
“We’re preparing a new product to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Remote and I was talking to a journalist about exactly this point the other day,” says Kane.
“The whole thing was, coming out of post-punk and loving bands like Heaven 17, ABC, Scritti Politti or A Certain Ratio, all those kinds of bands; The Specials, Ian Drury, Simple Minds even... the whole point was to make great records and then comment on the times. This was the era of Thatcherism, it really wasn’t hard if you opened your eyes, your ears, for five seconds (to find) something to comment about or resist.
“The dream was to write the great pop song in response to that. We were as inspired by late 1960s, early 1970s organic soul with Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Sly and the Family Stone, even Sam Cooke. Protest songs, songs about liberation of freedom or protesting against injustice were absolutely, naturally part of that era.
“Hue and Cry were kind of a combination of that post-punk era where politics were shoved right in your face whether it was Trident missiles, the miners’ strike, the Falklands or whatever... we loved this beautiful era of music where great, gorgeous sound and great righteous protests were one and the same.”
That’s still part of their music today. Hot Wire features a song about a soldier adjusting to life after fighting in Afghanistan, another about New Orleans post-Katrina. Open Soul’s Headin’ For A Fall was written in 2007/2008 just before the financial bubble went pop.
“It’s always been there, it’s just the way we are. It doesn’t mean there are not great love songs on (our) records. There’s a great love song on Hot Wire called Fail You Better which is one of the best love songs I’ve ever written... it’s total pop. We’re as political and as sentimental as the next band; it’s just about being a full human being and responding artistically to everything that’s there. We’re not propagandist, we’re not out bashing people over the head with stuff.”
He and Greg are enjoying touring together. They’re getting on fabulously. It wasn’t so at the beginning, says Kane, when they were young men in their 20s, working out who they were and struggles that began in the playroom never mind anywhere else.
“We did a lot of our growing up in public. Again, reflecting on Remote 25 years ago, the title very much describes my brother and I’s relationship. The title song.. there’s a line in it that says ‘the tension is all that we’ll ever have, we might as well use it’.
“We answered that record with Open Soul, there’s a song called Connect which is the very opposite of that. There’s a line in that which says something like ‘we fly apart, come together everybody’s watching, if we two can encompass us than no-one needs to be lonely’ - ie if you and I can figure it out Gregory anybody can and we have.
“There’s been public psychodrama no doubt about it and you use songs to work out a lot of these psychological challenges. It’s an odd phenomenon pop music, I often call it psychotherapy I get paid for rather than having to pay for,” he laughs.
Their biggest disagreement recently was over Hot Wire.
“The deal was with Hot Wire I wanted to do a ballad record and Gregory wanted to do a funk record so he tossed a coin and he won. So it’s my turn now,” laughs Kane. “We’re going to do this big old big ballad record, basically try to write the biggest songs we can. I think it’s about time we thought ‘okay, what have we learned about songwriting over this period of time’. I’ve still got not a bad voice, let’s see if we can write this ultimate big song, big ballad record. That’s the plan for 2014.”
It was way back in 1974 when Peter Cox met Richard Drummie and played him a demo tape. From that moment, they formed a musical partnership that is still alive and well today.
In 1982, the pair signed a publishing deal as songwriters Cox and Drummie, but when they booked some studio time and recorded We Close Our Eyes and Call Me, Go West was born. Within days they had a record deal with Chrysalis.
“The name was a collaboration too,” Cox says. “Richard wanted the word ‘Go’ in our name and I thought of the phrase ‘Go West Young Man’.”
With hits like We Close Our Eyes, King of Wishful Thinking and Call Me among many, their music was described by record producer Arif Mundin as “modern Motown”.
“Motown is a big influence for me personally and I was very flattered by that reference,” says Cox. “By the time we were doing the first album though, we were a rock band.”
Their debut single was their choice, which was unusual as the record company usually picked the singles.
“We went to try to write a single and came up with Call Me. Chrysalis didn’t want it to be the first single and they invited us to pick it – and we chose We Close Our Eyes.”
It proved to be a good choice as it was their biggest hit, reaching number five in the UK charts.
Fast forward to this year and they have teamed up with Hue and Cry – whose hits include Labour of Love and Looking For Linda – and The Christians, famous for Harvest for the World and Hooverville.
“It’s my understanding at the moment that The Christians will be on first and do about half an hour. Then Hue and Cry will be doing an unplugged set for about 40 minutes and then we’ll end the show and do about an hour.
“There’ll be a handful of hits the fans will expect and a song or two from our new album 3D, plus a number of interesting and surprising covers; we seem to be successful at putting our twist on songs, something people don’t expect to hear. We’re looking forward very much to the tour; it’s an interesting selection of artists.”
Go West, Hue and Cry and special guests The Christians come to the Ipswich Regent on Sunday, October 27.