WITH a career spanning 40 years, Marc Almond’s star shows no sign of fading.
One of our most loved and enigmatic singer-songwriters, the former Soft Cell frontman has released his impressive 24th solo album, Chaos And A Dancing Star. We caught up with Marc, 62, in a London hotel.
WITH 24 solo albums how does it feel to look back on such an amazing career?
Well, if I include all my live albums, it’s actually my 30th. It’s incredible, 30 albums in 40 years.
Sometimes I wonder, ‘Where did all the time go?’ but as I’ve got older, I feel a new energy. It feels like I’ve had a renaissance — I’m in a golden age of making music.
I’m really lucky to be where I am in music. I’m still able to make albums on major labels and make videos and do all that kind of thing. I am in a really good place in my career and life.
What influenced this album?
It reflects on mortality and uses a lot of nature references. They are apocalyptic love songs. I’m getting older and I’ve always loved cities, but I feel I am drawing away from that now and have a love for getting back to nature.
I’m excited Winterwatch is back on the TV. It feels like there is war against nature at the moment with climate change. I get quite emotional about that.
I feel a calling back to a kind of paganism which started to come through on (2015 album) The Velvet Trail. I like the idea of dancing around Stonehenge in robes.
Is it true you originally wanted to make the album prog rock?
I made it with (writer/producer) Chris Braide and he and I are both secret proggers.
He sent me some songs and I wrote really easily to them. I just thought they were fantastic, so we said we’d make a prog rock album. We were kind of half joking and half serious.
He sent me these proggy songs and I wrote Lord Of Misrule because I am friends with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. I wrote it for Ian because I wanted him to come and play, and that adds to the whole prog rock — rock legend Ian, playing on my record.
Then I went to LA to record with him and got very inspired by being there. I wrote Hollywood Forever and Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Tell us about Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
I made up those words on the spot. Chris had sent me a piano track a while ago and it reminds me of the 1970s. I arrived at his studio in a Buick Electra — I really love classic American cars and you can hire them in LA.
I also started thinking about my past relationships.
Many seem to have turned out to be sociopaths so that led me to write the song Giallo, which is the name for 1970s Italian slasher movies. They are very stylised and gothic.
This is my most gothic album in years — I can’t resist my inner goth.
Tell us about the song Cherry Tree.
It’s one of my favourite songs on the album. We wrote it very much with Kate Bush in mind. Chris and I both love her and T. Rex and that was the feeling that we wanted.
What’s the story behind final song The Crow’s Eyes Have Turned Blue?
A crow starts off with blue eyes and then they go brown. At the end of its life they turn blue again. So it’s about the ending of things and beginning of things.
I have a pet jackdaw called Dawkins that I’m very attached to. When I was a kid I was obsessed by animals and wildlife. I would have loved to have worked with animals if I hadn’t gone into music.
You had a terrible bike accident in 2004. How does it affect you today?
I am a patron for the Headway injury charity and do a lot of work with people recovering from injuries.
Mine was a very bad injury. I couldn’t walk properly and I suffered frontal lobe damage.
My personality changed for a while. I got it back but I can’t feel grief when I am meant to and I get over-emotional about other things. Emotions get mixed around.
When I first had my accident I thought, ‘I am not going to be a victim, I’m going to get back on stage’. But I probably returned to singing before I should have done. Even now I can sometimes forget songs, even like (1982 Soft Cell hit) Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.
It was a panic at first so I had singing lessons. The one thing I didn’t want was for people to feel sorry for me. It helps to do work for Headway.
What was Soft Cell’s 2018 farewell show at The O2 like for you?
It was amazing. When I sang Say Hello, Wave Goodbye, the audience had their phone lights on and it was one of the greatest moments of my whole career. I was totally mesmerised by the whole spectacle of it. It was a magical moment that will never happen again.
What solo live shows can we look forward to?
I’ve got a concert with Chris Braide at the Royal Festival Hall next month, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve also been writing with Dave (Ball, Soft Cell partner) again and we will see what happens there.
We won’t do a live concert again — how can you ever top the farewell show? I’ve also got an opera musical in conjunction with the Barbican, which may also involve the Sydney Opera House as well.
I wish I had a little bit more energy to do these things, like when I was younger. I’m dancing as fast as I can, you know.
On another note, you are aware David Bowie died at 69, so who knows whatever happens. You’ve just got to keep going and keep being creative and do whatever you can.
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What did being awarded the OBE mean to you?
It was great for my mum, she loved it. I never expected it and I don’t take things like that lightly.
I think you’ve got to grab these life moments. My mum got to go to the palace with the hat and everything and I hired a Daimler for the day. It was fantastic.
- Chaos And A Dancing Star is out today. Marc Almond plays the Royal Festival Hall on February 10.
Marc Almond – Chaos and a Dancing Star
1. Black Sunrise2. Hollywood Forever
3. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
5. Slow Burn Love
6. Fighting A War
7. Cherry Tree
9. Dreaming Of Sea
10. When The Stars Are Gone
12. Lord Of Misrule
13. The Crow’s Eyes Have Turned Blue