Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet
It’s true, we’ve interviewed new wave icons Spandau Ballet. After months of speculation, it was announced in early 2009 that Spandau Ballet were to begin perming together once again. To celebrate their reformation, the band released an excellent documentary entitled Soul Boys of the Western World which featured the rise and fall of these pop sensations. A Music Blog, Yea? recently had the opportunity of giving the band’s John Keeble a call. Curious to know more? Then read on to learn about creating the film, the New Romantic era, fashion, their friendly rivalry with Duran Duran, travelling the world, and reforming. Enjoy:

AMBY: Hey John, how are you doing?

Spandau Ballet: I’m very, very good. I’m good, excited, and look forward to getting everything started.

AMBY: Thank you for speaking with me today. I grew up listening to tons new wave bands and Spandau are a huge part of that for me. I really appreciate your time.

Spandau Ballet: Oh no worries, that’s why we do it – make music that people love.

AMBY and Spandau Ballet: [laughs]

AMBY: So let’s start off with your new documentary Soul Boys Of The Western World. It was fascinating to watch that movie as it recaptures Spandau’s entire past; the film takes us through the lows, highs, and re-formation of the band. Why did you decide to put that all together and release it now?

Spandau Ballet: When we had got back together about five years ago, we had some old footage that Steve and Martin had taken which was put to some of our tunes. The crowd really loved it, so it was a spark of an idea. We got an archive where we basically looked for every bit of Spandau Ballet footage. We ended up with four or five hundred hours worth, which our wonderful director found the story in, I suppose. It’s a story about friends more than anything and how it can go very well or it can go very badly.

AMBY: When you were looking back at those memories and film clips, what were some that really stood out for you?

Spandau Ballet: It all made me reminisce. It was great seeing the good stuff, but seeing the uncomfortable stuff was tough. The first time we saw it… I think the good thing about it is how honest it is. It’s not a piece of Spandau Ballet propaganda which tries to show how we sold this many records or we did this or that. It’s more of a story about people. I think you can watch the film, enjoy it in a social context, even if you’re not the greatest Spandau Ballet fan.

AMBY: Earlier on in the film, it focuses on how Spandau Ballet were true pioneers in the New Romantic era, not only musically but also when it comes to fashion. Is that still an important part of the fabric of the band?

Spandau Ballet: I think we all think about what we put on [laughs]. We try and dress sharp. Style is something you have or you don’t. It’s not really about wearing three piece suits; it’s about how you carry yourself and how you put stuff together. The part of the film, which was in New York, it was fantastic but we looked like aliens – it was like The Avengers or something.

AMBY and Spandau Ballet: [laughs]

Spandau Ballet: It was like we had come down to 1980s New York from another planet. For the new shows and clothes, I don’t know yet. We start rehearsals in a couple of days and will have to sort all of that out before we head your way.

AMBY: That’s exciting. Throughout the film, it shows how you were always friendly rivals with Duran Duran. Now that the dust has settled, what are your thoughts on that “rivalry” and what came out of it?

Spandau Ballet: [laughs] Look, I think we’ve both had our moments. I think Duran, to a large extent, were a bigger band in North America. We were bigger in Europe and Australia, but I think we carved the world up pretty well.

AMBY: As you mentioned earlier, you’ll soon embark on the North American leg of the Soul Boys Of The Western World Tour which brings you to Toronto soon. Which songs do you look forward to playing most?

Spandau Ballet: I’ve been sitting downstairs and playing through some tunes because we’re not quite sure which songs we’re going to do. Obviously, there’s a core set with some of the songs we’re going to do, but we’ve got a lot of years of work. We’re going to throw some curveballs in. I don’t yet, but I’ll let you know! I’m looking forward to playing Toronto again. We played Massey Hall a thousand years ago, so it’ll be nice to be back.

AMBY: You come back in April and it’s for the first time since 1983! One of my writers was actually at that show and remembers meeting you all and the show pretty vividly.

Spandau Ballet: [laughs] Fantastic. I can’t wait to meet them again.

AMBY: Returning to all these venues and cities must be rather nostalgic. Is there anywhere in particular you can’t wait to return to, other than Toronto?

Spandau Ballet: One of the great things about what we do is travel and see the world. I can go to so many cities in the world and it’s such a privilege to feel at home in so many places. We’re going to start playing every night, or almost every other night, so this is the exciting bit and I’m going to enjoy every single city. I’m looking forward to going back to everywhere.

AMBY: Last year, you released The Story: The Very Best of Spandau Ballet which features a new song titled This Is The Love. What was it like getting back into the studio for you as the band hadn’t recorded since Once More?

Spandau Ballet: Yea, we did three songs in the end. I think it was easily the most productive and relaxing recording we’ve ever done. The songs came together very quickly. I was really pleased with how everything came together organically and ended up sounding like Spandau Ballet 2.0 [laughs]. It sounds like us, but it’s slightly fresher and more modern sounding. I’m happy with it, I’m very happy with it.

AMBY: After this tour, do you plan on releasing another record together?

Spandau Ballet: I think the way people buy music now… the days of the album are almost gone.

AMBY: That’s very true.

Spandau Ballet: You know? An album was a piece of art. People just listen to the first few tracks. I feel like the days of the album are dying. We’d love to do some more recording for sure. Hell, if we’ve got a dozen great songs, we’re recording them! I’d love to.

AMBY: Fantastic. Well, many times I’ve read from the band, and you mentioned before that the film had to be about friendships. Over the years of forming this extremely tight-knit friendship together, what would you say is the best part of being in Spandau Ballet?

Spandau Ballet: It’s the best job in the world. For me, it’s my home, it’s my family, and it’s my world. We grew up together and we saw the world for the first time as kids together. That’s very, very special.

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Thank you Spandau Ballet, for giving us your answers!

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Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout

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