Howard Jones is joining forces with Kim Wilde for an epic Australian Tour starting in November. Howard Jones is considered to be one of the defining figures of mid-80s synth pop with ten top forty singles in the UK between 1983 and 1986 with the likes of New Song, What Is Love?, Pearl In The Shell, Like To Get To Know You Well and Things Can Only Get Better. The albums Human’s Lib and Dream In to Action charted at number one and two respectively. It was an awesome experience having the chance to speak to Howard ahead of the tour.
An epic tour with Kim Wilde starts shortly, are you looking forward to it?
Oh yeah, absolutely, I’m really looking forward to it. I love coming to Australia and I don’t get to come very often. It is going to be great.
How far back does the relationship go with Kim as this tour makes for an awesome combination?
I met Kim back in the eighties when we used to do TV shows around Europe and UK. That is where I first got to know her. In recent years we have seen each other more because we do a lot of festivals around the UK and are often on the same bill. Actually, funnily enough, the reason why we can do this tour is there are a few guys who play in Kim’s band as well as my band and we have some crew that we share. There are quite a lot of connections and I know her brother Ricky Wilde who is a great friend. It is a great combination I think.
How do you work out who goes on first each night? Do you flip a coin? Arm wrestle backstage? Rock paper scissors?
I think is appropriate, it doesn’t really matter as it is a double bill and I’m happy to go on first and open up the night. I’m joining Kim in her set as we are doing a song together, it’s no problem for me.
Will this be a greatest hits style of show or will you try and sneak in a few new songs?
Obviously there are a lot of hits to get in and people get upset if you do not play them. I worked out the set list early and I’ll do one of the songs off the last album and it is called Human Touch and also a brand new song written for the Eddie The Eagle film that I did last year, I’ll be putting those in. I’m always changing the way we do the vintage material as well. It is always changing.
Do you have a lot of fond memorials of touring Australia? I remember reading an interview where you said that playing at Apollo Stadium in Adelaide was one of your favourite shows you’ve ever played.
Yes it was, I had such a great warmth and reception in Australia it was amazing. Every time I have come back I find the people so friendly and so loyal. Some of the fans literally go to every single show and fly around Australia to see the gigs. I’ve got a lot of love for Australia and the amazing fans who have stuck with me for all these years.
Does it amaze how strong eighties music still is and how some artists are making a big resurgence now?
I think the generation that grew up with eighties music, that music will always be incredibly special to that generation. Generations get married, have kids and then the kids start becoming independent then they have more time to start going out and seeing shows and enjoying the things they grew up with. A lot of it is a practical thing and I think it was a very good time for pop music in the eighties. There were a lot of great songs and a lot of variety and something for everyone. It was only a matter of time before people discovered what a great era that was. Who knows! That’s my suggestions!
Do you think there is something lacking with the music of today? For me music seems to have lost its soul in this highly digital age, the experience seems to lacking as for me reading through the liner notes is an important part of the experience.
There is a lot in what you say, I think what has happened is that people are cherishing the live gigs more than maybe they did in the past. There is much more time, effort and passion invested in actually playing the music from your vinyl and reading through the lyrics as you’re saying is all gone. The live experience has become the most important thing now. To be honest that is the best way to enjoy music is to see the artist and be there with a whole bunch of people and have to make the effort to get there, buy the ticket… it is the whole experience which adds up to memorable time for people. I think that is what is happening shifting towards live as being the real best experience with music.
Do you find it just as satisfying now playing your hits now as you did when you started out?
I have always enjoyed playing them, I worry about playing the songs in the same way year after year. I’m always trying to give them a new twist and giving them a new angle. Obviously it needs to reference the original as much as possible but I try to freshen up everything. If it stays fresh for me it stays fresh for the audience. That is always a challenge.
Are you working on any new material?
I’m working on a new album and I’m three tracks in and one of them is The Eagle Will Fly Again that I wrote for the Eddie The Eagle film. There is another song I wrote for that Hero In Your Eyes so there is those two. I’m working on a song for an American animated film coming out next year called We’re In This Together. That is unusual for me to be asked to write songs for films and that’s three in the last few months. I’m going to continue that theme for the rest of the album with those songs having a narrative about them. When you write a song for a specific point in a film it has to tell a story of what’s going on. I am going to continue that idea and I have lots of musical ideas and haven’t written the lyrics yet.
Is that harder knowing that you have a particularly narrative you need to build a song around?
Actually, I find it easier funnily enough because you read the script and you get an idea of the characters and the situation they are in. I find it easier to describe that and then create a narrative to that than when I am starting from scratch with an idea about what I wanting to say.
What is next for Howard Jones?
I want to keep developing the live show. At the moment we are an electronic trio and next summer I am going to add another two people to the band. I want to have backing vocals back in the band as I did in the eighties. I’m thinking about developing the live show more and making it a bigger show and different for people every time they see me. I want to take on an ambitious project in the next couple of years which is going to be an orchestral big band version of some of my favourite songs. I’m working on that in the background and trying to get a team together. There are plans going on in the background.
Will you bring this band to Australia and tour in your own right?
I hope so, I have to see how it goes and it usually is a question of how much gear have we got to bring and personnel because it is such a long way. If there is any way of doing it I will.
How do you pick the song that both Kim and yourself will play on this tour given that you don’t normally play covers?
We are doing a cover but we have chosen a song that we all love and it is a song that I have actually being singing myself in my solo acoustic shows that I do in the UK sometimes. It is funny that we both came up with the same idea independently but I’m not going to tell you what it is! It wouldn’t be a surprise then!
By Rob Lyon
For all tour dates and ticketing information head over to Metropolis Touring for all the details.