Of the bands I loved in the 1980s, there are few bands that produced music that I still enjoy as much today as I did when I first heard them. Go West is on that short list of bands I still love to listen to whenever I get the chance.
So when I found out that one-half of the Go West duo, guitarist and vocalist Richard Drummie (shown in photo on right with guitar), was willing to do a brief email interview I was ecstatic. The band is having an incredibly busy 2011 with the recently released Frame by Frame DVD, which collects all of the band’s many promotional music videos; the third installment in the three-part 3D CD release; and most importantly, the upcoming 3D Live Tour, which kicks off in December. My thanks to Drummie for the interview.
The Frame by Frame DVD collection includes the two of you sharing recollections of making the videos. Were you surprised by how the memories (you’ve done a lot of music and a lot of living since some of those videos) came flooding back and you started recalling long-forgotten nuances?
Yes, I was surprised. That’s what made it fun to do. We didn’t sit down together and watch the videos first and make notes of what would be interesting or funny, we just pushed go and off we went.
Not many people can say they collaborated with Godley and Creme on a video; can you talk about working with them and what kind of creative lessons you took away from such collaboration?
I was a really big 10cc fan–all the early stuff especially. I saw them live six times and my favourite video was “Every Breath You Take,” so I was seriously happy to be working with them. They were very nice, funny and very seat of your pants. They seemed to have a framewor,k but a lot of decisions were made on the set. For instance, by a post production technique it was possible to replace the blue background with anything. Sharks swimming, clouds, stars in space – anything!! But they decided they liked the blue and left it as it was. They worked very much as we did in the studio, colouring in on the fly.
Looking back on your first two videos (“We Close Our Eyes” and “Don’t Look Down Girl”) I was struck by how there seemed to be a blue sky motif that partially emulated the album’s packaging. Not many bands of the 1980s were effectively able to brand themselves as seemingly happened here. How focused were you on marketing yourselves in those days? In terms of the present day, how enjoyable is it to be able to harness the power of social media to stay in touch with your strong and loyal fan base?
Well spotted. The blue theme came about by accident really. The album colour was mostly blue and as already said, the “We Close” video had a blue background. Then Russell Mulcahy had a vivid blue sky in the “Call Me” promo, and we sat down to discuss a single sleeve with John Pasche, who was head of design at Chrysalis who to this day is still a friend of mine. We realised that this theme had organically evolved and we should run with it. We were very aware of image. It was the eighties. I think the whole image thing had a negative effect in the long run.
On the second album we went out of our way to downplay the pop aspect. The album was very serious and we wore overcoats on the sleeve. It seems obvious now, but it wasn’t at the time. Now, social media is fantastic for us. It allows you to make information about what you’re doing easily available to anyone who’s interested, and get feedback from them as well.
Were there other video directors that you really enjoyed working with?
We enjoyed working with most of them, really. I loved making videos. It was very exciting and highly creative.
You two always looked like you were having fun when making videos–did you all really have fun or were the two of you just really great actors?
Unfortunately we’re not great actors. We really were having fun!
Would it be unfair to ask if you have a favourite video from the ones included in Frame by Frame?
Tough one, that. I suppose if I were pushed to choose it would be “The King of Wishful Thinking”. There were a lot of us in that. For instance, at the start when Peter gets out of the car, I hand him the microphone and he begins to sing the song. I’m thinking “what do I do, stand here like a lemon?” so I do a little dance which in the final cut gets a laugh, which is great! We managed to coax Pete to play the drums and revisit the dreaded vest from ’85! All in all the whole video is joyful and is one of the few where you can see the money. At the end of the day we went back to the hotel in West Hollywood and I said to Pete, “The songs great, the videos going to be great, we’ve got everything we need!”
With the upcoming December tour, how did you go about deciding which venues to play?
We’ve played a lot of theatres over the last few years which are lovely, but we wanted to get back to venues that are a bit more rock and roll–for want of a better term–so we’re playing at almost all of the Academy venues and finish the tour at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 22nd December.
Is it too early to discuss the musical line-up of talent that will be backing the two of you on the tour?
Not at all. With one exception our band has been together for the last ten years [Lyndon Connah, keyboards and vocals; Deeral, guitar; Richard Brook, drums; and Vinzenz Benjamin, bass].
If response is strong enough, would the two of you be open to playing more dates?
Absolutely. We’ll keep playing until people stop coming. This is what we do for a living!
Of the songs from your latest release, 3D, are there certain songs you really enjoy playing live?
I love them all of course but “Sideways” is great to play because it’s very different from anything else in the set and has a lot of theatre about it. “Pocket Call” is going down really well also. It has an interesting story. “Drive” and “She Lights Me Up” take the paint off the wall, which is always a good thing!
Speaking of playing live, am I right in thinking the two of you really feed off the satisfaction of performing live?
Love it. Lots of people dancing and clapping. The vibe with the band. “Five minutes guys!” The lights go down. Fantastic.
The average band is lucky to stay together for five years, so it’s impressive you two have been collaborating for 25 years. What would you say is the key to why the two of you have worked together so well for so many years?
We started out as mates and we’re still mates.
Is there anything you would like to discuss that I neglected to ask you about?
Yes, the mighty Fulham Football Club. Come on you lilywhites!
Go West start their “3D Live UK Tour” on 7th December 2011. Ticket Hotline: 0844 477 2000. Book Online: www.ticketweb.co.uk.
UK tour dates as follows:
Wednesday 7th December: Robin 2 Wolverhampton
Thursday 8th December: The Stables Milton Keynes
Friday 9th December: The Stables Milton Keynes
Tuesday 13th December: O2 ABC Glasgow
Wednesday 14th December: O2 Academy Liverpool
Friday 16th December: O2 Academy Sheffield
Saturday 17th December: O2 Academy Newcastle,
Tuesday 20th December: O2 Academy Oxford,
Wednesday 21st December: O2 Academy Birmingham,
Thursday 22nd December: O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Further info: www.gowest.org.uk