Andy Bell admits he sometimes second-guesses Erasure partner, and synthesizer wizard, Vince Clarke, in the studio. Usually, though, Clarke?s instincts are above reproach.
?When we make music, Vince is very dogmatic,? says Bell, the electro-pop duo?s vocalist. ?He won?t let me touch anything. So I can only sing ideas to him if I have a keyboard riff idea or something. Then, a lot of the time, when he?s making a sound, I?ll think, ?Oh, that?s so ?80s and not in the retro sense, and I?ll think, ?Oh, you can?t do that. It?s so ?80s, but then, how it turns out sonically ? which is down to (engineer) Gareth Jones, he mixed [Erasure?s new album, Light at the End of the World] ? he seems to get these synthesizers, the individual lines, and put them into a place where they sound quite unusual.?
And then it hits Bell that Clarke was right all along. ?I thought as we were creating the music, I could never have imagined that space that they put them into. It?s a bit weird for me because I?m more of a dance re-mix person, so I think a lot of my criticism of Vince is unfounded because his sounds are really unique.?
Clarke and Bell first joined forces as Erasure in 1985. The synth-pop group Yaz, which Clarke, a founding member of Depeche Mode (he departed after one record), belonged to, had broken up. With the openly gay Bell as his foil, Clarke indulged his dance-club leanings.
As Erasure, the pair have recorded 15 albums, including their ecstatic, hopelessly optimistic rush of adreneline Light at the End of the World. The result of intense writing sessions in a Maine hotel room, the album?s multi-layered, kaleidoscopic synth movements mirror those of classic Erasure like 1988?s The Innocents, the group?s first #1 album in Britain, 1989?s Wild! or 1991?s Chorus.
?We just decided to do our Brill Building experiment,? laughs Bell. ?Just meet at the same time every day and just do it like being in school or something.?
Grounded in the classic pop stylings of Neil Sedaka, Gershwin and Burt Bacharach, … End of the World?s songs are radio friendly, even if radio airplay eludes them.
?We weren?t trying to be commercial, or anything, it?s just the frame of mind we were in,? explains Bell. ?There are a couple of songs that?ll be on the special CD that I thought were just far too commercial to be on the regular CD. One of them is called ?Take Me on a Highway? that is just so ABBA that it really makes me cringe.?
So might the honesty of ?Storm in a Teacup,? a song Bell wrote about his mother?s alcoholism. ?We?ve all spoken to her till we?re blue in the face and she won?t take any notice, but underneath, she has this really hardcore punk ethic and she?s got this really steely stare that she has, where you see that her soul is really evolved and incredible, that she?s still in there. So I thought it would be really nice to do a song that?s like a prayer to your mother, but at the same time non-judgemental.?
Has she heard it? ?No, she hasn?t. I?ll get probably bollocked if she hears it. She always says you?re not too old for me to clip you about the ear.?
As for his impressions of the new record, Bell is especially enthusiastic about ?Sunday Girl,? sequenced by Bell and Jones to open the album which ? … because of the intro, really sounds like the opener of a show,? the first single ?I Could Fall in Love With You? and the techno/gospel slam of ?Sucker for Love.?
?I like listening to it on the train, when I?m going to the seaside,? says Bell.
Touring is on the agenda for Erasure. First up is a slot on the ?True Colors? caravan, with, among others, Cyndi Lauper and Blondie?s Debbie Harry. After some rehearsals, E