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Interview

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He is 80s music royalty and he has had an illustrious film and TV career. He has sold 25 million albums, he has had 10 top ten singles and he played at Live Aid. He died in Albert Square but he’s coming to Stockport in July. Paul Taylor talks to Martin Kemp You’re an incredibly busy man at the moment. You’re in huge demand on TV and you have the DJ sets that you’re rolling out across the country but we’ll get to that in moment because, as with all great stories, we have to start at the beginning and this is the 40th anniversary of the formation of Spandau Ballet... That’s right. You could say that it’s a weird anniversary because we’re not together as the same band at the moment - Tony left a couple of years ago and we have a new singer, Ross and it’s exciting to have some new blood in there. It’s quite good to change things up every now and again. Especially after 40 years. But back in the beginning, it’s 1979 and you are a group of mates in Islington. What happened? Gary had a school band called The Makers. I was their roadie and every night I’d go home, get into bed and dream of being in that band. I’d hope and pray that something terrible was going to happen to one of them so that I could step in. And one day I was at Steve Norman’s 18th birthday party - he was the saxophone player - and I was standing next to Steve Dagger who was the band’s manager - he still is today - and he said to me, “Martin, I want you to join the band.” And it changed my life. How did the record deal come about? We were a trendy young band and we were good musicians and I think we looked really good. So 1980 and you’re on Top of the Pops with your first big tune, To Cut A Long Story Short. It’s a hit and you’re wearing some great clothes. You must have all been quite giddy? To be honest we didn’t really think about the clothes. The clothes we wore on Top of the Pops were just the clothes the kids were wearing in the trendy nightclubs at that time. All that tartan we were wearing came from a club Steve Strange ran called Le Kilt, where people dressed in this Scottish theme. It sounds weird now but that was what was happening. The New Romantic scene in 81, 82 was the new sound of the UK. It was the era when women were women and men were women... It was very ambiguous and I loved that. I look back and think how lucky I was to grow up in that atmosphere. It’s something that kids don’t seem to have these days, the fashion to alongside the music. Yes, we had a lot of choice. There was always fashion that went alongside pop culture. I think it’s sad that it’s not really there for kids anymore because pop culture has become what happens behind a computer screen.

You were early pioneers of the New Romantic sound, what were your influences that led you to come up with that sound? Our influences back then were Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder that sort of stuff but I think that sound was only really on the Journeys to Glory album and as we grew in popularity the band’s sound changed and by the time of the Parade album our songs had changed because they had to fill arenas. True was your first number one, how exciting was that for a group of 21 year olds? It was amazing. We were doing a gig in Northampton when we found out. A record company guy told us that just on the Monday of that week we’d sold 100,000 copies so we sort of expected it but when I got the phone call, it was kind of the height of everything. That was why you were in a band, to get a number one record. I look back now and it still gives me chills. The True album was a huge seller too, did you feel like everything you touched was turning to gold? We knew we were on a roll, but it’s like standing on the edge of a cliff and it’s getting higher and higher and you’re looking down at failure. I always felt like that. Your fate is in other people’s hands and you can only exist as a pop band that young girls fancy for so long. I think by the time of the Parade album our feet had left the ground, our egos were inflated and we were living inside this Spandau Ballet bubble. What are your memories of the Band Aid and Live Aid times? Live Aid was kind of mad. We arrived in a helicopter to avoid the crowds and flying the helicopter was Noel Edmonds. My biggest memory was doing the sound check the day before and watching Status Quo doing “Rockin’ All Over The World” and we were jumping up and down, singing and that’s actually one of my favourite memories of being in the band. Before then, the only time we’d ever bump into other bands was by chance in the Top of the Pops corridors so this was the first time everyone was together, it was wonderful day. What was the rivalry like amongst all the big 80s bands at the time? We got on with everyone but... there was a lot of competition there and obviously our biggest competitors were Duran Duran. And it wasn’t just about how many records you sold, it was about how much money you’d spent on your latest video, who could stay up the latest - ridiculous things like that.

The band split in 1990 and you went off acting, you starred in The Krays and then went off to Hollywood but you and Gary were child actors originally... Yes. A woman called Ann Scher opened a drama club across the road from where we lived and mum put me there, not because she wanted me to be an actor but because I was so shy. I was shy to the point of it being an illness. And when the BBC or ITV wanted young actors with a cockney accent for one of their shows, they’d go to Anne Scher’s. I did Play For Today, Dixon of Dock Green, the Tomorrow People... I loved it. It gave me the ability to act and improvise which I think is important when you’re growing up. I recommend all parents send their kids to drama school. What’s your favourite acting experience? The Krays, without a doubt. The band had come to an end and I knew that the film was the springboard into the rest of my life - if we got it right. And what is the future for the band? We’ll see where Spandau goes. We’re not a regular band who keeps knocking music out like we used to be. When the timing’s right, we’ll get together and play again. You’re also selling out every where with your 80s DJ sets and you’re bringing it to Stockport in July.. have you been to Stockport before? You know what, I most probably have, although not that I can remember. But this 80s DJ-ing job is the most fun I have ever had in my life. It’s the strangest thing, if there’s a room of 1,000 people, it becomes a celebration of their lives. The music is the soundtrack to their lives and they are singing every word to every song. It’s like walking into the best party I’ve ever been to. What would the 21-year old Martin Kemp make of you now? I’d think he’d be pleased. It’s hard to tell. I’ve had good times but it’s not all been up. If I could give him a bit of advice I’d tell him to breath in more and enjoy the moment more. I was in such a rush. When we were kids all we wanted to do was play to 100 people in the local pub but by the time you get there what you want to do is play to 3,000 people at the Hammersmith Odeon, but when you get to do that, what you really want is to play Wembley Arena and when you’re at Wembley Arena, you want to be playing Wembley Stadium, so you’re never happy. Every now and again you should stand back and take a breath. Martin Kemp is coming to Stockport Rugby Club on 20th July www.smashhits.live

Profile for TOTALLY STOCKPORT

Totally Stockport Magazine Issue 8  

Showcasing all the great things happening in Stockport Town centre, this month; Tramp - Produce Hall - Martin Kemp - The Frogs are coming -...

Totally Stockport Magazine Issue 8  

Showcasing all the great things happening in Stockport Town centre, this month; Tramp - Produce Hall - Martin Kemp - The Frogs are coming -...

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