Now living on a working farm in France, raising sheep of all things, The Fixx’s genial frontman, Cy Curnin, has, to some extent, gone native. But, he hasn’t stopped making music. “It’s very different, but it has as much rhythm as any drum box,” says the singer/songwriter of his simple, bucolic existence.
At least partially responsible for such enveloping, ‘80s New Wave sonic architecture as “One Thing Leads To Another,” “Red Skies,” “Saved By Zero,” and “Stand Or Fall” — songs that acutely captured the paranoia of the Cold War in fearful lyrics — Curnin has a new album out called The Returning Sun on his own label, Squirrels Eat Nuts, Inc.
Deeply personal lyrically, The Returning Sun is a bright, colorful, melodic album that’s as hopeful and sunny as his outlook on life, while retaining the guitar flashes and wide-screen synthesizers that made The Fixx an AOR staple. Curnin talked recently about the inspiration for The Returning Sun, his work with The Fixx and his latest daring escapade.
Goldmine: You celebrated your 50th birthday by climbing Mt. Everest with a group of fellow musicians. What was that like?
Cy Curnin: Yes, well that was a life-transforming experience. Last summer, I was on the road with Psychedelic Furs and The Alarm, and the lead singer of The Alarm, Mike Peters, is a two-time Leukemia survivor. And I’ve worked with Mike over the years, and I’ve been aware of his fight, and seeing him onstage is a real inspiration. It makes you think twice about moaning about having a headache when you see this guy just giving it what for. He really knows what every day is worth to come back from something like that.
He organized this foundation called the Love, Hope, Strength Foundation, with another fellow leukemia survivor called James Chippendale (president of CSI Entertainment), and together, they just hatched this plan to shout the message that if early detection and early treatment were available, a lot more people could get into remission and get on with their lives. So, sing it from the highest points of the world [was what] they wanted to do. So, [first] it was the Empire State Building, and Mike is from Wales, and there’s a mountain there called Snowden, and then one of them came up with the idea, “Well, hey, how about Everest?” And so, a lot of trekkers signed up for that. They were leukemia survivors, there were six or seven musicians who were invited along (Peters, Squeeze’s Glenn Tillbrook, Stray Cats’ Slim Phantom, The Fixx’s Jamie West-Oram, Curnin and Nick Harper, the son of the enigmatic English musician Roy Harper), and then there were some just normal, healthy people who’d donated a lot of money to the foundation. We all set off and went to break the world record for the highest rock concert ever. On the 22 of October 2007, at 19,100 feet, I believe we broke that record.
GM: What were the logistics like?
CC: Well, it was pretty ... obviously, the camera guys [were affected the most]. It was filmed by Alex Colletti, creator and producer of “MTV Unplugged.” He was filming it and documenting it with two cameramen.
Obviously, they didn’t want to carry lights, so we had to do everything in the day. We were using solar panels, rolled up solar panels, to charge the batteries and using a small P.A. system that was powered by battery. It was pretty damn cold up there for the guitarists, [and there was] not much air up there for the singers, but it all came off, and there were a few hundred people up there by the time we’d reached base camp, and right behind base camp is a little knoll ... which is a little higher, another 1,20