Q Alison, I’m curious about a comment you made in reply to another question, something about not having the resources (financially) to do the kind of show you’d like to. I was wondering how this could be since both Hometime and Voice have sold very well… or maybe I don’t understand how these things work in the music business…By the way, any hope of a tour in 2005? I saw three shows on the Hometime tour and loved every minute…
A well..they have..but even with a standard band it is usual for the turn to subsidise the tour by tens of thousands of pounds…without wishing to seem crass.. if you want to keep the ticket prices affordable you don’t take in as much income as it costs you to pay for everyone and everything. I don’t get anything to tour but I still have to pay everyone else.. triple or quadruple the band and do the sums. On a big label sometimes you get tour support..that means they lend you the shortfall and you pay it off as you earn….you can still easily spend this way what ever it is that you might earn from record sales…. as for the tour!!! I think there might be an announcement on Monday!!! aaaaahhhh!!!x
Q My question to you is have you considered who you will write with for your next album and if so will you collaborate with Mr. Glenister?
A Sorry for the delay… I was sure I had answered this one but it must have been lost in the sock drawer which is my world!
In terms of songwriting, Pete is always going to be a major factor as far as I am concerned. He is supremely talented and intelligent and is my dear friend and confidant. His tastes, like mine, are very eclectic and he can side step with me at any given time. We have areas we don’t meet on but they are not many…he is also used to my periodic hibernations, which is handy.
I like sometimes to write from a track that is given to me and on that basis, I am not prejudiced..if it moves me I don’t care from where it is sourced…more often though it needs to be put in my hand when I am of a mind to be creative … many brilliant things have come my way and I never noticed until the moment was gone and I wonder what it was that closed my ears to it at the time of its arrival…. It would always be interesting to find out who it is that might seek ME out for collaboration.. especially now when I am no longer at the peak of my commercial success… at those times anyone and their mother will emerge from the woodwork but you know the reasons then are more often about your profile and not the sounds you are able to create. At times like these, it is from people who get you musically, or sonically.. it’s more honest…more artistic. Having said that…there are no guarantees that anyone will ever make that connection.. but it interests me nonetheless.
Good grief…that was a tome wasn’t it…
Q Would you ever consider working with or performing with Vince even for a charity event (if one ever got offered ) maybe a threesome ( hey don’t get too excited here… with Andy as well)?
A I have been nervous of revisiting the Eighties..what with the Here and Now tours and the general celebration of things done.. However, I have to say that a part of me would like to sing with Vince again. The musician that is hungry for singing. Those songs came and went so quickly in terms of recording them and then the partnership splitting so soon afterwards that I never became over familiar with them. They are songs that certainly require Vince’s sound if I were to do them again live (I think I have done as much with them as a solo artist as I can)… so what I suppose I am saying is yes.. I wouldn’t mind singing with him again..although the likelihood is beyond remote I am sure. xxx
Q Here’s my question this time…a little technical, I admit. Is it a easy or hard work to choose the key of a song (written by you or somebody else) you want to record ?…I really believe that it has a big influence on the final atmosphere and result…do you agree or not?
A It is not difficult finding the key once I have decided the vocal colour I want to use. Whether I am looking for a full voice in the upper register or a falsetto. If I want to use my lowest notes then I will find a key that allows me there and doesn’t require me to push lower.
The right key is absolutely vital.. you need to know that you can support the whole melody. In recording Alf for example..the producers liked me to be on the edge of my full voice range.. to the point of breaking.. this became a nightmare working stuff like Invisible live as it meant I was straining always and that makes the voice fragile.. hence the cancellations at that time… moving those songs down lost them their raison d’être and in the case of All Cried Out.. I was using very bottom with very top full voice…and I always felt I was hurdling rather than singing. There was no other key to move it to and as you get older the desire to shout lessens. Got to the point where I was yelling Invisible and was remarking internally..sod it, who cares…disappear you skank. LOL Yes…Very important!
Q Many songs you’ve written, and or sang, have an R & B sound, I’m wondering who your R & B influences are if there are any?
A R&B was very important to me. But R&B in the way that we referred to it in England in the 1970′s. I liked the stuff that was spawned from the blues as opposed to gospel. Maybe there was no difference but I feel one. I was affected by bands like Dr Feelgood, Lou Lewis, Wilko Johnson, 9 Below Zero etc.. who were influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, Billy Boy Arnold et al. There is a dirtiness to this stuff.. the devils music as it was called as opposed to the music of the church (my tastes are much more European in that area) It’s all that sodding testifying that I can’t stomach…and now every act from pop idol turns to the pretty semi bare arsed girls are giving us some Aretha (they wish) The genre is getting so diluted and over referenced that it is in danger of ruining my listening pleasure for the true great moments. I have often said to new piano players of mine that I was permitting them 5 fingers only.. to avoid lush romantic chords.. I wish someone would do that to latterday poppettes…you can have three ad libs in this song but your task today is to hold a melody. Am I old or what!!
Q What can you tell us about the transference of a studio sound to a live environment? *Do you find it hard when you are planning this? *(i.e. are there ever technical issues, such as you used a particular sound in the studio that you can’t recreate to full effect live) *and is there one song that you perform that you feel is probably better live?
A Yes… It’s really tough. For an act like me it is prohibitive to have a stage full for a number of reasons. For one, the cost. You always expect to pay to tour but the expense can be phenomenal and impossible to justify. On the other level, a denser live sound increases the difficulty a vocalist faces. Too many harmonics and pitching comes into question. There is little worse than facing an audience desperate to untangle the key of the song through the noise that is bouncing back at you from the room. It is what lost me my taste for playing live other than in a paired down or acoustic set up. Backing vocals were always a problem. For the material I am doing on this next outing the latter problem should not be an issue but the resultant sound will be affected by how many musicians we can take with us… and it wont be a plethora whatever is my desire. The full showing will have to be reserved for the filming of the DVD xxx
Also..I meant to say.. It is usual… all things being equal.. for me to enjoy live singing more than studio work.. probably because I am quite a perfectionist and the ‘come and then gone’ aspect of singing live is liberating because all you can do is feel the moment and then let it go. Also, the volume I sing at is not always helpful in the studio..getting the headphones right so that I’m not blowing my ears off. With Voice, I sang to speakers instead of cans..this allowed me to better judge my own levels and sing to the instrumentation as opposed to trying to ward it off..if you get my drift xx
Q Alison, I’m curious if you have any special treatment to take best care of your voice, especially when attempting a lengthy performance or extended tour. Is there any special tea concoction you adhere to? And have you, or would you, ever smoke(d) a ciggy before a recording or performance to achieve an extra ‘sultry’ sound?
A I have certainly since Chicago discovered the benefits of warming up and never whispering. I will drink Lemon and ginger tea…and 20 mins before going on I will have a large brandy…this renders me docile and relaxed but unfortunately make my head sweat…mmm attractive…and having very little tolerance to alcohol…rarely drinking it at any other time.. I am a little unsteady coming off, am rubbish at talking to anyone after a show (numbed by adrenalin) and am very grateful if someone then rolls me a number. xx
Q Given that you have updated and reworked a couple of your songs most notably Ode to Boy, are there any other tracks from your back catalogue that you may have given a thought to and may consider reworking/updating for future airing?
A There are some songs on Hometime that were written in the classic song style…almost a natural pre-cursor to the album that followed.. I would like to have some of these arranged for orchestra to play alongside the Voice material for the DVD. There are songs that were lost on the way that we felt deserved more prominence and it is often tempting..the idea to revisit those.. but I feel like that time is gone. Also, people get very attached to originals and it is not always possible to express other ideas without causing consternation. I LOVED ODE TO BOY 2 LOL xxx
Q Recently Vince Clarke was asked if you had to choose one song you have written or recorded to always be remembered for, what would it be and he answered Only You. I wonder which song you have written or recorded YOU would want to be remembered for?
A Vince did really well writing Only You. Not just for Yazoo but for the countless covers he picked up for it… I know because I have been accused of covering The Flying Pickets LOL.. obviously, my songs have not been so well received….and because they offer me such different approaches, mine..a good few of them, are important to me for very different reasons. The majority of Hometime I feel very good about the writing… Some Yazoo, This House..It Won’t Be Long. I don’t think, if I am lucky enough to be remembered at all, that it will be for my writing… but I wish it were so. xxx
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