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By Andy Argyrakis
Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley talks about his
first ever American tour
August 10, 2011
Perhaps Tony Hadley is best known as the lead singer of Spandau Ballet, though there's much more to his musical palette than merely the new wave, new romantic and synth pop scenes. In his solo career, he's sung everything from Brit pop to rock, blue-eyed soul and even jazz/swing standards, while also adding TV personality to his resume after winning the "Reborn In the USA" reality show, followed the autobiography "To Cut A Long Story Short." For the first time throughout a three decade-spanning career, Hadley brings his own show to the States, which as he shares by phone from a recent holiday in Spain, includes a slew of Spandau songs through today.
Livewire: Why now for your first American tour and what took so long?
Tony Hadley: For whatever reason I haven't been able to get there. Spandau is one thing and we last came in 1985. As Tony Hadley, I'm obviously the singer for the band, but I haven't really got a track record in America. Fortunately an American booking agent saw me in Europe and said he had to get me out, so better late than never. Believe me, I've wanted to come over, but that hasn't happened unfortunately. There are just a handful of dates, but we're hoping this is the foundation to build a good, live presence in America.
Livewire: What can fans expect from the show?
Hadley: Obviously whatever was a hit in America, songs like "True," "Gold" and "Only When You Leave," and we'll really mix and match. I've always thought of myself first as a singer and then as a songwriter. I love groups like The Killers and the Kaiser Chiefs and will be working up a couple of versions of songs unique to us, plus I'm working on an album that will be due out next year.
Livewire: This marks your first outing of any kind since reuniting with Spandau Ballet in 2009. What was it like getting back together?
Hadley: It wasn't easy being away from each other for 20 years, being involved in various court cases [over songwriting royalties] and not talking to each other. Getting together was somewhat difficult, but John [Keeble], who's the drummer in Spandau and in my solo band, was really instrumental in slowly piecing the bits of the band together. The final meeting was between myself and guitarist Gary [Kemp]. We had a very nice conversation about the fact that we're all approaching 50 now and seeing if we could make it work. It wasn't easy, but after a couple pints of beer, we realized we could be friends again.
Livewire: Will that be an ongoing reunion or was it just a one off?
Hadley: It was only meant to be a one off, and from my point of view, it was just a one off. But I always say "never say never." At the moment, I'm touring Britain, the States, Australia, New Zealand and Germany before Christmas, plus with the new album, there's kind of a lot going on, but maybe one day in the future.
Livewire: From your perspective, what was the band's role in defining the new wave/new romantic movements?
Hadley: We became part of new romantic scene that was very avant-garde, but also good fun. It was post punk, though we thought punk was fantastic, and very flamboyant. By chance, we kind of became musical presidents of that kind of era in London, with Duran Duran [in Birmingham] and Depeche Mode [in Essex]. It was a great time for music and probably the last decade where music and fashion were intricately linked.
Livewire: How do you feel when younger bands cite you as an influence?
Hadley: I think it's a compliment. I remember when P.M. Dawn sampled "True" and I thought it was brilliant. People like Bowie, Roxy Music and Queen were influences on bands like Spandau and Duran Duran and it's always been about taking influences from the past and making a new today. I think that's good and I'm a massive fan of bands like The Killers and My Chemical Romance.
Livewire: Do you ever get tired of singing "True" after all these years?
Hadley: No, I don't get tired of it because of the crowd reaction. I know Adam Sandler did it in "The Wedding Singer," but it's actually become a song people get married to and make love to, so I never get tired of singing it, though the audience sings most of it by this point. When we come to America, the worst thing any artist could do is not acknowledge their hits. You've got to give people what they want and leave them entertained.
Livewire: What would you say to more casual fans in the States that only know the softer side of Spandau Ballet?
Hadley: In America, Spandau really cocked it up unfortunately. America's a country where you have to tour and tour and tour to prove yourself and we didn't do that. For whatever reason, whether it was management, thinking we were clever or whatever, we just didn't play it right. I love playing live, and the thing is now I want to prove myself in America. I think some people will think "this guy sang that sweet little song 'True,'" but when they see us live, they might be surprised that it's a lot heavier than they imagined.
Livewire: How would you account for your own resurgence as of late?
Hadley: Sheer bloody hard work actually. Listen, I wouldn't know what else to do. As a kid, I remember watching "Top of the Pops" on TV and all I wanted to do was be a singer, either as a solo artist or in a band. I finally made it, but wow, it can be pulled away in a second. In trying to make my reputation as a solo artist, I've had to pay my dues again. I started out in small places, built up a great live band and then kept my profile up on TV, followed by headlining festivals all over the place. In America, we're starting again at smaller clubs like House of Blues, but at least there's an opportunity and hopefully we'll convince people the Tony Hadley Band is a force to be reckoned with and we can keep going back and fourth from [overseas] to the States.
Tony Hadley's American tour dates are as follows: 13th August Irving Plaza, NY/ 14th August Northalsted Market Days Festival, Chicago/ 16th August House Of Blues, West Hollywood, CA/ 18th August Ramona Mainstage, San Diego, CA/ 20th August Fremont Experience, Freemont Street, Las Vegas/ 21st August Red Devil Lounge, San Francisco.
For additional details, visit Tony Hadley www.tonyhadley.com.