Erasure, comprised of Vince Clark and Andy Bell, established themselves on the UK charts and became one of the most successful artists of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Their music crossed over internationally scoring hits in all of Europe, the US and beyond.
Erasure, comprised of Vince Clark and Andy Bell, established themselves on the UK charts and became one of the most successful artists of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Their music crossed over internationally scoring hits in all of Europe, the US and beyond. They have been labeled the definitive synthpop superstars. To date Erasure has sold over 25 million albums worldwide. Fresh on the heels of the release of his 2nd solo album “Andy Bell Non Stop,” I was pleased to have a Hotspots exclusive interview with Andy right before his live appearance in Tampa.
1) At what age did you start singing?
I sang as a child on the streets. I had 5 siblings, 4 of them would sing with me as one was too young. The church bus would come by and try to grab me to sing with them, but I chose not to. I did sing in the choir at school, in the shower and sing myself to sleep. I started singing when I was around 6.
2) What did you do before you were a professional singer?
I moved to London at 17 and I had lots of job including a bar job, made sandwiches and sold ladies shoes.
3) When did you realize that you wanted to sing for a living?
I was in a band, but at 21 when I met Vince and that is when I really knew I wanted to sing professionally.
4) After your first recording, where did you first perform it and how was the response from the crowd?
It was with Vince and we had a single called “Who Needs Love Like That” in 1986 and we performed in a nightclub and they were mostly pissed off cause we were disturbing there disco dancing.
5) How did it feel the first time you heard your song on the radio?
It was the song “Sometimes,” but I really can’t remember it, but I am sure I was really excited.
6) You have recorded so many songs. What are your top 3 favorites and why?
“Home” from the “Chorus” album, only because it was one of those wrenching isolation songs and it gets me every time I perform it.
“A Little Respect” because it is so well known it sings itself and the energy of the song lifts you up so much you get carried away with it.
A B side called “Tenderous Moments.” We performed it as a country western version on Union Street. I love the sentiment of the song; it is quite beautiful.
7) Who were your inspirations/mentors in the music industry?
Definitely Debbie Harry because I think it is really amazing when you are a teenager and feel some kind of affinity with the person. And then when you meet that person and the expectations are even higher, it’s quite amazing. She is a lovely person.
George Amorota. I didn’t realize who he was until I heard “I Feel Love” for the first time.
8) You have toured all over the world, what has been your favorite gig and favorite city so far?
I would have to say Buenos Aires in Argentina, because it made me feel like what it must be like to be Madonna. The fans were singing outside the hotel room. The second concert was the Milton Keynes Bowl and that was to about 60,000 in 1992. It was so surreal it was like being in a dream.
9) In 2005 you released your first solo album. How was that different from being in Erasure?
Kind of different cause it was like creating your own remixes from scratch. It was very easy to record. I recorded it with Manhattan Kleat, and they live just round the corner in High Gate so it made it very convenient.
10) You also released 2 songs under the pseudonym “Mimo.” How did that come about?
That was purely because of the prejudice on the radio in the UK. There are basically 2 major radio channels. On radio 1 if you are over 40 you are too old and radio 2 is too main stream. So if they knew it was from me they would have never performed it, so I fooled them.
11) You have done a lot of charity work. Tell me more about that.
I have volunteered my time for the stroke association, many HIV charities and much more. To me it’s not a lot of effort to perform or do a concert. It’s part of my responsibility to give back in a small way.
12) You are very open about being gay and about being HIV positive, which is a very brave thing to do in the entertainment industry. What made you decide to be so open about these things?
I was out gay from the start. However, in the early 90’s there was an AIDS witch hunt in the tabloids in the UK. I just wanted it to be out so that I couldn’t be outed by the newspapers.
13) What would people be shocked to know about you?
How down to earth I am when they meet me.
14) What do you like to do for fun?
I love to cook. I just made a vegetarian risotto (although I am not vegetarian), and I like to go to the theater, go to the bar and ride my bike.
15) What’s ahead for Andy Bell?
I am going up to Maine to see Vince and I will be in the recording studio with him. I then head to Rome to do a personal appearance.
Catch Andy Bell performing live during GaYBor days at Honeypot on Sunday, July 4th.