Next Friday Erasure release their brand new album World Be Gone, a collection of beautiful songs with more than a hint of the duo’s view of the modern world. Dave Cross spoke to Andy Bell and Vince Clarke about their extraordinary album.
Hi Andy and Vince, we love the new single Love You to the Sky – what a great drum sound!
Andy: I think the drums are very Siouxsie and the Banshees and it has quite a Kate Bush Running Up That Hill feel. It’s about being elated and reminds me of a jolly, hands-up-in-the-air, good-time vibe.
Vince: It was actually the last song that we wrote for the album; we felt we needed something up-tempo and the song came together pretty easily.
The whole album has a positive feel even though there seem to be less ‘dancey’ tracks than your other albums, was that a deliberate move?
Vince: It was very much Andy’s idea. The last two records have been more dance albums and we were thinking it would be good to do an album of slower songs.
Andy: We deliberately decided to do something a bit more honest and low key because I was feeling a bit pooped and showbizzed out, to be honest.
The title track is just lovely, what is it about?
Andy: New horizons, sailing off into another world and trying not to look back with remorse.
Vince: We try not to be to specific with our lyrics, but I think this song is about an end to all the bad things happening now – with Brexit and Trump it’s all very depressing and the song is looking for a brighter future.
Another beautiful song is Still It’s Not Over, with lyrics about fighting on the steps of a city hall, is this about the fight for equality?
Andy: This song reminds me of visiting San Francisco in 1987 and being such an excitable young gay man. I was slightly overwhelmed by the generosity of its citizens at the same time they were dealing with this terrible ‘disease’ called AIDS. It’s a witness to the call to arms and bravery of the mainly young men then.
Vince: There seems to be a step backwards at the moment in America with all these stupid rules about public toilets.
Oh What a World and Lousy Sum of Nothing seem to be commenting on the modern world – how much do current affairs influence your writing?
Vince: We don’t usually write political songs but right now there’s so much going on that we couldn’t really ignore it. In my life I’ve seen a lot of amazing things happen – the end of apartheid, the Berlin wall coming down – and now everything seems to be going in the opposite direction.
Andy: I think as an artist and sensitive soul you can’t but help being influenced by the news media and the evil things that are going on around the world. One thing that concerns me is how manipulated we are. Our emotions and empathy are just switched off and on at the flick of a button.
The album finishes with Just a Little Love, which is gorgeous and seems to go back to the sound of the early albums. Tell us about that.
Vince: We definitely wanted to end the album on a positive note, a little bit of sunshine at the end.
Andy: We thought we should top and tail the album with a couple of feel good songs just so that people don’t think that we’re doom-mongers!
In the past you have worked with producers but now you produce yourselves – how does that change the process?
Vince: I think we figured that by now we really should be able to do it ourselves. We still have someone, Matthew Green, who comes in at the end to do the final mix, and I think that’s important to get another pair of ears in at that stage, without him we’d probably have never finished it.
Andy: And it’s less expensive!
You are going on a big UK tour as support to Robbie Williams…
Vince: It’s a great opportunity for us to play to a huge amount of people and Robbie is a super nice chap as well.
How important is live work to you now?
Andy: I think it’s always important to carry on the live work and to continue to develop as a performer and writer. It’s almost the only way to get your new material heard.
What can we expect on the tour?
Vince: We are doing some dates on our own before the Robbie shows and after, but the dates with him we will be doing mostly hits obviously, plus a couple of tracks from this album.
Andy: So many songs, my head is about to explode!