Seeing as I am a teen from the 80s, of course I was excited when I saw that Spandau Ballet was going on an American tour for the first time in 28 years. When their PR firm reached out and asked me to do an interview with Tony Hadley, it was a “dancing in your office” kind of day. This is one of that group of bands who are the soundtrack of my life. The crazy thing is when Tony got on the phone with me, he was incredibly nice, incredibly candid about the band’s break up … and had lots to say about what they’re up to now as well as what he’s doing personally. I went from fan girl to someone who is genuinely intrigued with this band… who had such massive success, then imploded, worked independently for 20+ years, and came back together to celebrate the past as well as record new material.
In addition to the new music, there was a documentary about them called Soul Boys of the Western World that premiered at SXSW last year. It was this film that derailed my chances of seeing (and photographing) Spandau Ballet because right after I interviewed Tony, they where able to secure American distribution of the movie, for which they rerouted the tour – and had to drop the Denver date. You can imagine my disappointment! Still, I had my chat with Tony which was absolutely lovely, and I look forward to seeing the film. Friends in LA who saw the shows there said they was fantastic, so I will include the rest of the tour dates below.
What brought Spandau Ballet back together in 2009?
In 2009, Gary Kemp got in touch with John Keeble and then a rumor followed that was announcing a national tour – it was pretty much a joke. But there was such a massive groundswell of the fans that we came together and decided we wanted a better ending for the band. We all basically met with Keeble in the middle to keep the peace – over a couple beers – and talked about how we could make it work. I’m very glad we did, we’ve grown up now – and are able to put the past behind us.
The documentary SOUL BOYS OF THE WESTERN WORLD follows your band and music in the 80s, tell me a little about the process of collaborating on it.
It’s set back in the New Romantic time. And really shows that time. There in London, and also Band Aid and Live Aid. It was made by someone completely separate of us – George Hencken – but of course she interviewed us all independently for hours and hours. Then we also sent out the word to people all around the world to look for anything from that time. Fans found all kinds of footage in their drawers and stuff we didn’t even know existed. Nobody back then had mobile where you could just capture the moment. All of us are not entirely comfortable with the movie, but it does paint a pretty honest picture, so that’s why we all are happy with it.
And now you have released The Story, with 3 new tracks. How did that go?
We have been doing a lot of writing and have a great deal of songs – but we only had time for the three, the ones that came out on the new album. I wrote Soul Boys, which is the title of the film. We quite like how it came out, it reflects us as a band as well as where we are now personally.
I know you do many other things besides Spandau Ballet. How are you fitting it all in?
I know! I do work in radio and then I have the orchestral tour. We are all incredibly busy! I had to put my personal things on hold when we decided to do this tour – you know, to do just one thing at a time, so right now everything is about Spandau Ballet. But then eventually I will have a new solo album that will come out after as well.
Is this your first time touring back in America since the 1980s?
Yes! We haven’t been back for 28 years and I don’t think we’ve ever been to Denver. What’s the skiing like? (I told him I wasn’t much of a skier but this was a great place for it – TOO BAD THEY WILL MISS IT!) We’re quite excited to get back to America and see what the reception will be after all this time. The fans have been so great.
Do you prefer being in the studio or performing live?
Ultimately performing live is my favorite, it’s like icing on the cake. Studio is obviously fun because you’re crafting the songs but then the thrill of being out there live and getting over your nerves…
Wait. You still get nervous?
Yes! I do get nervous still every single time. Every time! But then the band kicks in and it’s just fun to be out there performing with everyone.
Who are some of your favorite current artists?
Sam Smith. War on Drugs. John Newman. Kaiser Chiefs. Killers. Queens of the Stone Age. And honestly, with my kids of varying ages, I listen to all sorts of things – so I really do like One Direction.
It’s a big year for you. What will you conquer next?
It was really fun to appear on Jimmy Kimmel recently, our first appearance on US late night TV… and again, our fans were so supportive. So we’re just going to go out and play America and see how things go!
Many thanks to Tony for taking the time to chat.
SPANDAU BALLET AMERICAN TOUR 2015
1/23 San Francisco, CA Warfield Theatre
1/24 Los Angeles, CA Wiltern Theatre
1/25 Los Angeles, CA Wiltern Theatre
4/25 Chicago, IL House of Blues
4/27 Toronto, ONT Massey Hall
4/28 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
4/30 Boston, MA House of Blues
5/1 Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre
5/2 New York, NY Beacon Theatre
5/3 Westbury, NY Theatre at Westbury
Photos provided by Spandau Ballet.