Interview: Howard Jones- 80’s Legend & Pop Philosopher

Interview: Howard Jones- 80’s Legend & Pop Philosopher

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image013Heading to Australia in a double bill of 80’s proportions next month, Howard Jones, along with fellow star the ‘divine’ Kim Wilde, will grace audiences with their hits and memories on their Australian Tour.

Kim Wilde burst onto the 80’s music scene with hits such as Kids In America, Chequered Love, and You Keep me Hanging On among others, to become the most successful British female artist of that era.

Howard Jones too, was one of the key figures in defining 80’s synth pop and became somewhat of a pop philosopher with his themes of peace and the common man within his music. A classically trained pianist, Jones’ music is ageless to this day and if you listen to songs such as What Is Love?, and No One Is To Blame, it’s easy to see why Jones & his music is still adored by audiences worldwide…and he’s a really lovely human being as well!

Speaking from his home in the UK, Jones looks forward to visiting Australia once again (the last visit was in 2009), and took great delight that fans still love his music.

“I was inducted into the ‘Society of Songwriters of Distinction’ which is a British group of which Tim Rice was the Chairman. He coined the phrase ‘pop philosopher’ which really made me proud, it showed that he listened to my music and understood that was what I was trying to do- to make songs that can be useful to people in their life. There’s a place for mainstream pop of course, but I wanted to ask questions of how to make life meaningful within my lyrics”, says Jones.

We talk about the emotional hit No One Is To Blame, and it’s intended meaning of us wanting what we can’t have. “That song particularly is quite complex because it can mean different things to different people. I don’t know where to begin with that one, because you’d initially think it’s a song about infidelity and fancying a load of different people, and how it’s natural to do that. But if you go down that route you can’t really have a trusting relationship with other people. There’s a price to pay. There’s that aspect but, at the same time, the phrase No One Is To Blame can have other connections.”

There can be therefore no doubt as to the impact of music on the human psyche, either positively or negatively in our lives. It uplifts us during sad times, sometimes it saddens us further, and we can use it to convey our thoughts and feelings to others.

Jones poignantly reflects on an example of this in a story about an email he received from the friend of someone who had sadly committed suicide. “The person who took their life left a message to their friends asking them to listen to this song. It was their way of saying that ‘I’ve taken my life but it was my fault or decision, no one else’s’. That’s what it can mean to different people.” The decision to end their life was in no way attributed to Jones or his music, but they’d obviously felt enough of a connection with the lyrics to send a final message to loved ones during their darkest hour. Such is the enduring power of song. “I too have had songs that have deeply affected me at times in life that have been of great comfort and inspiration, I always try to achieve that and think it is the job of an artist to do so,” says Jones shifting into a slightly more upbeat tone.

We discuss his albums, and the fact that Dream Into Action is now 30 years old before further discussing the aforementioned hit song. There were two main mixes of No One Is To Blame that went to air, the original version and a remix. “The original version on Dream Into Action was more stark and stripped down and still a favourite version of die-hard fans. I thought the song had potential to get radio play, I really believed in it and thought a slightly different treatment would work. Phil Collins loved it and helped to produce. He played drums on it so asked for a 2 bar drum machine intro. It became maybe the biggest hook in the song.” Incidentally, this isn’t the first collaboration that Jones has done, nor is the upcoming tour with Kim Wilde. He does though, wish to work with Sir Paul McCartney. “I’m sure he’d be up for it. I should pursue that a bit more!” Jones says laughingly.

Another name from Jones’ heyday who fans should remember was mime artist Jed Hoile, who Jones last worked with in 2010. “We did an Anniversary show and I invited Jed to be part of it because people still have a great affection for him. He’s obviously got his own life and is busy doing his own thing, and interestingly what he does now is bring African musicians over to the UK to give seminars & teach people to play African drums. He’s very involved in that but we’re still really good friends.”

Getting back to the upcoming tour Jones sees Australians as music mad (in a good way of course) and real lovers of live music. “I’ve always been impressed with that, playing to Aussie audiences is an absolute pleasure because they’re so enthusiastic- it’s a great experience. The English are more reserved but you Aussies just go for it. People are so passionate about the music- I love it & thrive on that,” Jones says.

The 80’s were a busy time for recording, and Jones’ music takes us back to those happy times of questionable fashion choices, interesting hairstyles, and fast moving trends. Along with Kim Wilde, this will be an unforgettable show that will make you appreciate just how good we had it with these two amazing artists.

Audiences will get to experience the exquisite musical genius that is Howard Jones, along with the gorgeous Kim Wilde at The Gov next month. Let’s get ready to party like it’s 1985!

Interviewed by Dazz Hassan

@DazzHassan

 

KIM WILDE & HOWARD JONES

The Gov | Tue 8 Nov (New Date) & Sat 12 Nov

Tickets: $82.10 + Booking Fee
Doors open @ 7:30 pm

Tickets available from www.thegov.com.au | www.oztix.com.au

 

Jones in the 80s
Jones in the 80s

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