Exclusive interview with Howard Jones
Howard Jones rode the crest of the electronic wave of music in the early 80s with iconic hits such as New Song, What Is Love and Things Can Only Get Better. Fresh from spending his summer touring the US, Howard is coming back to these shores and hits Manchester’s The Ritz on Friday 24 November.
Canal Street’s Chris Park chatted to Howard about his new tour, stage fright and what is next in the world of music.
Tell me about the forthcoming tour?
I have a new five piece Electric Band which I put together at the beginning of the summer. We played some UK festivals and did a five week tour in the USA. This is the best band I’ve ever had. So I thought it was important that the UK fans have a listen.
Do you stay faithful to original versions or shake them up?
You have to be careful and not wander too far but it’s good to revamp them. They sound better than the records. I like to change the structure. For Things Will Only Get Better we start off faithful and then go into a huge EDM house version.
Do you have any backstage rituals?
Not really, now that we’re a five piece we go into a huddle and say we’re going to make it great.
Do you still get stage fright?
Absolutely, it’s important to feel nervous. I wouldn’t want to be like I just don’t care, I should feel trepidation. People have paid money for tickets and travelled far, I have to deliver.
How did the US tour go this summer?
It was brilliant, we had 47 people on the road, it was like a little festival and we played a three or four hour show every night. I was joined by Modern English, Paul Young, English Beat, Katrina and Men Without Hats. By the end people were joining each other on stage, I would see my band members up on stage, it was great. I’d love to do that again and encourage it from the beginning. The audience loved it because they were seeing something very unique.
You’re known for embracing technology, what will be the next big thing to hit music?
It’s not a new thing but streaming is a cool way to access music. The evolution needs to be for young artists to make a living from music. That needs to evolve. It now puts the emphasis on the live experience but there are still artists that can only function in the studio so they need to be included.
Do you feel the increase in live performances is ultimately a good thing?
I think people need to get out and be with people, people need a break and have a beer and hang out.
Tell me about the creative process?
It’s different every time. For Engage, which feels like a long time ago, I had a big bold plan and I wanted the live show to come at the same time. I brought in ballet, contemporary dance and film, everything I love.
For the album I am working on at the moment, I am collaborating with friends. Technology means I can juggle things easier. I am working with a producer called BT who is based in Washington DC and normally I would rule that out but I can send files across the Atlantic and Skype and then we come together at the end.
Which modern acts inspire you?
I think Alison Moyet’s new album is astonishing. I love the new Ella Fitzgerald album where they have taken her tracks and backed it with the London Symphony Orchestra. The new Shania Twain album is really good. The Killers have had a return to form. Laura Marling. The new Stones album is brilliant.
Best is a mega collection of songs, why now?
I’m now with Cherry Red Records and they bought my catalogue from Warner Bros so I can now combine the lot. The fans probably have it already in different forms but now it’s all in one place. Also on tour can sell the whole catalogue as one thing.
Tickets for Howard’s Manchester date can be found here.
By Chris Park for Canal St Online