Howard Jones (Retro Futura Tour 2014)
'Everlasting Love: Howard Jones is Back to the Futura!'
Whilst all the 80's acts on display don't need excess amounts of cans of hairspray these days, the artists currently on the RETRO FUTURA TOUR of America are proving that their music is still as good as it gets!
Indeed, the Retro Futura Tour, which brings together a wide range of 80's stars such as founding Thompson Twins member Tom Bailey, Howard Jones, Katrina & the Waves' singer Katrina Leskanich, Ultravox front man Midge Ure and China Crisis, kicked off a few nights ago at New York's Best Buy Theater and is just the start of a 15-date jaunt; which wraps up September 8th in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Sitting down with the lovely Howard Jones just a day or two into the new US tour, I made that the first question: Touring today, especially now as part of this Retro Futura tour coming to the US, what have you quickly discovered to be the biggest differences from touring back in the ‘80s and ‘90s? “I think you have to be more fleet of foot now on the road,” he responds, matter-of-factly. “The days of having articulated lorries full of gear have gone,” he laughs. “So it’s really about having smaller things that are less than 32 kilograms and you can fly with. So now you have to consider the weight of everything you want to bring. So you can fly off to do gigs in Australia or the Far East and still make it a great show by using creativity . You do still want to take articulated lorries, but that’s no longer an option. So that’s one of the practical sides of touring now.”
And how, as a performer are your performances these days compared to what they were back 30 years ago? “Well, I’m probably fitter now than what I used to be when I was younger. And I have a voice coach and I do pilates and I eat very well also. So yeah, I’m probably in better shape now, so that’s been compensated for really,” he laughs.
The Retro Futura Tour of the US kicked off in New York so what are your immediate impressions of how British 80’s music is being received by the American crowds? “It was amazing, a really fantastic show, a really great audience and an amazing line-up for this tour. Which I’ve been really involved in the selection of people playing on this tour. So it’s a cracking line-up with so many cracking songs and so many cracking artists. But yeah, that first night in New York was pretty nerve wracking because none of us knew exactly how it was going to go. But everything worked very well and it got off to a flying start. So I think it’s going to be a cracking tour.”
What do you do personally on your down time and what have you planned along the way in different cities that you’d like to see, perhaps? “No,” he laughs, “there’s never any time to go see anything. These shows are literally back to back on this tour and if there is ever a day off it’s traveling from one side of America to the other. So, there’s seven shows here for us on this run and then the first day we have off we travel to LA. So yeah, it’s pretty intense so there’s no time off. Well, visiting the local coffee house is probably as far as we’ll get,” he gently laughs.
Have you already chummed up to any of the other artists on the tour and found yourself bonding, perhaps? “Well, I know everyone anyway, because people like the guys in China Crisis, well, I first toured with them back in 1983. So it’s really a tour of mates, really.”
You seem to color co-ordinate your orange stage suits with your mobile keyboard live on stage! So what‘s up with you and orange anyway?! “Nothing really, other than it being a great color! There is truly no significance other than that. It’s just a really great color to wear at festivals when you go on in the afternoon and play live. It’s a color that you can really see from afar and is very practical.”
And are you a fan of guitars, perhaps? “I absolutely avoid guitars. Guitars to me, well, it’s like garlic to a vampire,” he laughs.
Do you miss the old days when you could use a complete can of hairspray on your spiky blonde blonde hair before going out on stage?! “No, I don’t really, no. “
Well, aside from the hair you look exactly the same as you did 30 years ago - so what’s the secret? “I don’t look exactly the same,” he laughs, “I’m not Dorian Gray, but it’s about having great genes, isn’t it. I also think having a youthful spirit is probably helpful too. I never wanted to be one of those people that let themselves go and they don’t pay any attention to how they look, how fit they are. I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. It’s about maintaining a youthful spirit and not bowing to this idea that once you get old you suddenly let go of everything. I’m not like that.”
Now playing here for American audiences, what can they expect to hear on this US tour? “I’ve got a really mixed set on this tour. I start off with a brand new track that hasn’t even been released yet and is coming out in February. And then with ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ there was an EDM hit here in America done by Cedric Gervais, a house remix of the song that we include in the show. So we do completely brand new things. And I’ve done completely new versions of ‘Everlasting Love’ and a track called ‘The Prisoner,’ which was always one of my favorite tracks. So I obviously play the big American hits in there, but also there’s the new stuff as well. So I’m trying to tread that line between the two, but you don’t want to just give them all the hits. You want to show them there’s new stuff as well"
And talking of your new upcoming album, what can you tell us about it? “It’s called Engage … and it’s been designed as a live show. So, it wasn’t written as an album, it was written as a live show. So it’s got video aspects, contemporary dance, there’s a short ballet piece in there and there’s a lot of audience involvement. So, before the show the audience are invited to have special apps downloaded that they would use at certain points in the show and then there are also certain parts of the show which they sang. And they would wear colored gloves for this song ‘5 Piano’. So it’s got loads of audience involvement, but it’s more of an event than an album. But it’s really meant to go and see live so I’m going to be performing it this coming February and hopefully touring with it thereafter.”
To this day which is your own favorite Howard Jones album to sit back and play on a sunny summer‘s afternoon? “I think I’d go for the album called People. It’s really got some of my favorite songs on it … and obviously I like all my work, but that one always catches me by surprise.”
Finally, we here at Exclusive Magazine love penguins, so do you also, perhaps?! “I do like penguins, but I don’t have any stories about them, sorry,” he laughs. “I don’t think I’ve ever even seen one in the flesh. Only on the TV.”
But if you could have one for the day and name it, what would you name it? “Florian,” he immediately answers! “It’s just a really great name and I would have called my dog Florian, but the kids wouldn’t let me. But Florian is my preferred name if I were to name a beloved animal of mine.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
Remaining Retro Futura Tour 2014 Dates:
Tue 08/26/14 Toronto, ON Kool Haus
Wed 08/27/14 Highland Park, IL Ravinia Festival At Ravinia Park
Fri 08/29/14 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre
Sat 08/30/14 Saratoga, CA The Mountain Winery
Sun 08/31/14 Lincoln, CA Thunder Valley Casino
Wed 09/03/14 Tempe, AZ The Marquee
Thu 09/04/14 San Diego, CA Humphrey's Concerts By The Bay
Fri 09/05/14 Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
Sat 09/06/14 Sandy, UT Sandy City Amphitheater
Mon 09/08/14 Grand Prairie, TX Verizon Theatre At Grand Prairie
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED Howard Jones CD just answer this question about the man himself: Jones appeared as a solo artist in local venues in High Wycombe, England before inviting a mime artist, who used to do improvised choreography, whilst doused in white paint, as Jones played behind him! What was the full name of the mime artist though?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED Howard Jones CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before January 1st, 2015 with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: HOWARD JONES SIGNED CDs to: email@example.com
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