Interview with Andy Bell of Erasure; band to play two shows in Houston

Photo by Joe Dilworth

The iconic musical duo of Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, who make up Era­sure, will be performing two nights at the Bayou Music Center (520 Texas Ave.) in Houston on Friday, Oct. 10, and Saturday, Oct. 11, beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $55-$35 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets.

For Friday tickets - TICKETMASTER

For Saturday tickets - TICKETMASTER

From England, Erasure returns in support of their latest record, The Vio­let Flame, which is available now for purchase. “Refreshed” and “rejuvenat­ed” are some of the adjectives used to describe the record, but I instantly thought it’s typical Erasure — awe­some.

Erasure will celebrate their 30-year anniversary next year, and what a musical journey it’s been. With more than 25 million albums sold, Erasure turned heads in the United States beginning in 1985 with a string of radio hits like “Oh L’amour,” “Who Needs Love Like That,” “Sometimes,” “Victim of Love,” “Chains of Love,” “A Little Respect,” “Always,” “Blue Savannah” and “Stop,” just to name of few. Not only were they radio hits, but dance clubs around the country were pumping the tunes and made Bell and Clarke even bigger stars.

Bell, now 50, spoke to The Exam­iner about writing the new album, the longevity of Erasure hits and promot­ing the shows in Houston.

The new album is nothing short of spectacular, but why is new music important to Erasure?

I think it’s the creative process, really. As Vince would say, ‘You never really know what is going to come out when you meet up.’ We still get quite nervous when we meet up and haven’t seen each other for a while. We had the Snow Globe album that kind of was like testing to get us warmed up for the writing. I went to New York where Vince was at and he came to Miami and we were really lucky with what came out. We decided to make a dance record. We usually write on piano and guitar, and I told Vince let’s not do it this time. We wrote on synth (synthe­sizer) and created loops. Sometimes when you write to guitar, vocals come out of my mouth kind of folky as com­pared to synth it blends itself. It’s a club-type melody.

Has the writing/influence process changed?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Donna Summer and Grace Jones, and sometimes you kind of need to be nudged by either the artist or hearing their music again. Because Donna passed away, she was in my mind, and I was thinking about Dusty Springfield as well and they kind of came out a little bit in the tunes. We just love to write.

Any concerns of fans being critical of the new music?

We have some down periods because we all struggle with ourselves, and that comes out in the music. We are very fortu­nate that we’ve had lon­gevity, but we’ve been on an Independent record label the whole time, but some of the best work is when you are really low-key and you’re down. I really loved the albums Loveboat in 2000 and Erasure in 1995, and fans didn’t like it and you get depressed. But when I hear the music now, I love it. When you go on tour and feel like you just have to do the hits, you don’t want to feel like a nos­talgic act, and that’s another reason why we are constantly writing new stuff.

With such a large catalog of hits, how do you and Vince choose a set list?

It’s quite tricky. I’d love to do a B-sides tour, but it gets very trainspot­terish, but we do ‘Joan’ from the Cho­rus album, three tracks from the new album and the rest are 12-inch remixes from the popular singles plus some quite unusual choices as well. It’s more fun not to do the 3-minute singles and mix it all up, and makes it more interesting for us as well.

In the mid ’80s when ‘hair metal’ was popu­lar in the U.S., you guys were able to break through with electronic synth-pop music. What about those songs makes them still popular today?

I really don’t know. Vince had an incredible history, and I was a big fan of his before we got together. I have a great pop sensibility. Something like ‘Oh L’amour’ is so Euro and now it’s only fashionable in the past five years in America for that kind of Euro-trance sound. All of our remixes, in the past, already had that sound in there. Remix­es of the song ‘Always’ by Cappella and remixes by Mark Saunders, Wil­liam Orbit and Super Nature, and stuff like that have flowed through our music through the years and now that’s really popular. Maybe that is what made some of the songs so enduring.

Erasure website -