80s synth-pop star still en­joy­ing sweet suc­cess

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

EIGHT­IES synth-pop band Blanc­mange are cel­e­brat­ing the re­lease of their new al­bum by tour­ing not once... but twice!

They are un­der­tak­ing their own head­line tour of the UK and then, straight af­ter, they are tour­ing Eng­land along­side Heaven 17 on The Tour Of Syn­thetic De­lights 2.

Blanc­mange emerged in 1982 with their first hit God’s Kitchen / I’ve Seen The Word and over the fol­low­ing four years the band – Neil Arthur and Stephen Lus­combe – had nine more hits, in­clud­ing Liv­ing On The Ceil­ing, Blind Vi­sion and a unique take on Abba’s The Day Be­fore You Came.

The band is still fronted by Neil Arthur, but Lus­combe has had to leave be­cause of health is­sues. Neil tells me how the band started.

“I was at art col­lege in Lon­don and met Stephen there. We got to­gether and did some pieces of ex­per­i­men­tal mu­sic. Stephen sang – if you can call it that – and I played gui­tar. We begged, stole and bor­rowed other stuff.

“It was all for fun and then we got an op­por­tu­nity to record some of our stuff and it got into the hands of Stevo Pearce, who was set­ting up Some Bizarre Records and in­cluded one of our tracks on a sam­pler al­bum which also had Depeche Mode on.

“This al­bum was well-re­ceived and we ended up tour­ing Ja­pan with Depeche Mode.”

Neil tells me how they came to record the Abba song The Day Be­fore You Came.

“Vince Clarke was in the process of leav­ing Depeche Mode and a few of us went on hol­i­day to the Ca­nary Islands. One of the tapes we took with us as Abba – The Sin­gles and it was one of the tracks.

“Vince was want­ing to record one of the songs and we said to him, ‘No, we’re do­ing that one.’ I was a big fan of Abba and we got a let­ter from them say­ing how much they liked it. They even let us use their videos with ours.”

Fast for­ward to 2017 and Neil has just re­leased Un­fur­nished Rooms.

“It rep­re­sents my think­ing on mu­sic and ob­ser­va­tions of the things around me. I’m not writ­ing pop songs, I’m ex­press­ing my­self. I’m very pleased with the re­views and I’m look­ing for­ward to tour­ing it.”

Along­side Neil on stage will be old friend David Rhodes.

“David has played on most of the things we’ve done and was in the band in Ja­pan. There’s also Adam Fuest and Oo­goo Maia who plays synths and vocoder.”

Neil says that he has worked with Heaven 17 be­fore.

“We’ve done quite a num­ber of shows with them and we go way back. When we were mak­ing our way we worked with Mar­tyn Ware. In fact, he pro­duced one of our demos and put us up in his house.”

As with many mu­si­cians, Neil is not a fan of the trav­el­ling th­ese days.

“We al­ways en­joy the gigs but not the trav­el­ling. The gigs them­selves and then chat­ting with the fans – I al­ways come out af­ter the show for a chat – is re­ward­ing.”

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