January 2003
By Steven M. Housman

Erasure - The Others

Erasure has always been a driving force with their unique style of song. Andy Bell and Vince Clark have been a best-selling recording duo with a devoted audience since 1985. With each album, their popularity increases to a larger and more diverse audience. Just released, is their 12th album, and for the first time, it’s a complete disc of covers appropriately titled Other Peoples Songs. Vocalist Andy Bell was candid about the process of recording this album and tackling the subject his own sexuality.

Besides ABBA-esque, this is your first complete album of “Other People’s Songs.” What was your decision-making process for recording this album?

The ABBA thing was more like a fun kind of throwaway idea and we only did four tracks for that one. It wasn’t a complete album, it was an EP. The idea for Other People’s Songs came from listening to my parents records when I was a teenager living at home and dreaming of being a singer one day. My Mum was a big Elvis fan and my Dad was a big Buddy Holly fan, so I really did the album for them to say thank you for giving me a good musical education. My favorite album of theirs was Phil Spector. I used to rehearse to those songs all day and I said to myself, ‘one day, I’m going to do my own versions of these songs.’

Out of all the songs available, how did you possibly narrow it down to twelve?

It was quite hard. When you start out with a project like this, the world is your oyster. All three of us, Gareth Jones (producer), Vince and myself made CD’s of songs that we thought were suitable. I kind of steered towards the ballads, and Vince’s choices were more rock-oriented like “Solsbury Hill”

After 18 years together as a duo, do your collaborations come naturally?

No, It’s very natural. Vince really cares about what he does. Sometimes when you’ve had an album out that hasn’t done very well like our last “Love Boat,” you kind of start blaming yourself for it because you think the music isn’t very good. Then in hindsight, when listening to it, I really enjoy it and I think we’ve always put out good quality work. I think we’re just really just very down to earth and we’re both each other’s greatest ally.

What is your preference, the recording studio or live performances?

I prefer live performances. We have some promo in America in March, I think they’d like us to do some dates though we haven’t discussed all the details yet. One thing that’s always been so great about America is we’ve always sold out everywhere we’ve been to.

You’re extremely popular here.

Yeah, we seem to sell more tickets than albums! (Laughing)

You have a very large gay following in the States, how do you feel about that?

I think it’s really nice. I mean it felt so right coming out in the 80’s being in company in the UK with the Communards and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. When I went to America the first time, it was a real eye-opener for me because that’s where the whole Stonewall thing started. Then I was given the keys to the City of San Francisco, and being promoted through gay clubs, I can go anywhere and go into a gay club and they really look after me.

Do you feel that’s also true in other parts of the world?

Yeah, it is. Everywhere I seem to go it seems to happen.

Did you yourself come out, or are you speaking for Vince too?

No, me, myself. Vince is totally cool with it.

I wish you major success with the album.

Thank you. I especially hope they enjoy it in America because it’s really a heartfelt album and the Americans have been lovely.

© 2003 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.