UCR Interview- Party Nails

Interview By: Kevin Rolfe

Los Angeles based artist Party Nails’ debut album, Past Lives and Paychecks was released in 2018.  Her most recent single entitled ‘I Go To You’ is a stunning and intimate love song, featuring relatable honest lyricism, raw acoustic guitar and layered soft vocals which ride gently atop the organic instrumentation. Her previous single ‘So Broke’ features the singer’s distinct sound of glittery synth-pop and went viral on Spotify.  

We caught up with Party Nails when she here in Utah supporting Eve 6 on their 20th anniversary tour.  She had some wonderful insight on someone who is getting their opportunity to do what they love. Enjoy!

Utah Concert Review: So are you originally from Los Angeles?

Party Nails: I’m from New York. Like 40 minutes south of Albany. So not too far north but definitely really rural and small.

Utah Concert Review: Did music bring you to L.A.?

Party Nails: Yeah. I lived in New York City for like four years before I moved to L.A.  I just had this thought that I should probably move to L.A. so I did. But that’s the short version of the story.

Utah Concert Review: So what happened where you started to feel like things were happening for you with music?  

Continue reading “UCR Interview- Party Nails”

UCR Interview- David Archuleta

Interview by: Kevin Rolfe 

Photo by: Robby Klein

David Archuleta brings his Christmas Tour to the UCCU Center in Orem, Utah on Monday, December 10.  We recently caught up with David and discussed his new Christmas album, what pressures might come from performing in Utah so often, and what are some of his favorite venues here in Utah.  Enjoy!  

Utah Concert Review:  You recently released your new Christmas album Winter in the Air and your single “Christmas Every Day” is getting a lot of airplay here in Utah, so congratulations on that.  How did you decide to release a new Christmas album?

David Archuleta:  From the moment I released my first Christmas Album I’ve wanted to release another one.  When we were finishing up Christmas From the Heart about ten years ago and I was like, “I’m going to have to do another one.”.  You can’t fit all the great Christmas songs on one album. I love Christmas, it’s my favorite.  They’re my favorite tours to do, so I just knew that I had to do another Christmas album. It was just a matter of when.  But then I saw that Pentatonix released three in a row so I thought, “You know I guess I can release another one almost nine years later.”.   Continue reading “UCR Interview- David Archuleta”

UCR mini-Interview: Midge Ure on “Do They Know it’s Christmas”

By: Kevin Rolfe

Original Album Cover

Thirty-four years ago today, the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid was released.  Boomtown Rats frontman Bob Geldof saw a report on the BBC about the famine in Africa and desperately wanted to help.  He recruited Ultravox frontman, Midge Ure, to write a song with him in the hopes of raising $100,000 for famine relief.  They wrote the song in a few days, and then they took to their individual assignments in getting this project off the ground.

 Midge locked himself in the studio, recording, arranging, and producing the track so that it would be ready when the time came to add vocals.  That was Geldof’s job. Bob Geldof went on a mission to form a one-off supergroup by recruiting some of the biggest voices in British music of the day.  He didn’t go through managers or publicists. He went straight to the artists themselves. He recruited the likes of Bono of U2, Boy George of Culture Club, Simon Lebon of Duran Duran, Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, and George Michael of Wham.  These vocalists along with many others agreed to show up and record this song over a 24 hour period. The song was recorded and released the very next day. It was the fastest selling single in UK chart history selling 1 million copies in the first week and has sold almost 4 million copies in the UK to date and about 13 million worldwide.  The song did not raise $100,000 dollars. However, within a year of its release, the song had raised $8 million. The success of the song drove Geldof and Ure to put together one of the greatest concert festivals of all time, Live Aid. Continue reading “UCR mini-Interview: Midge Ure on “Do They Know it’s Christmas””

UCR Interview- Justin Hambly

Interview By: Kevin Rolfe 

Justin Hambly performing at the Angelus Theater. Photo by: Kevin Rolfe

Note from the interviewer:

Justin is a singer songwriter from Aptos, California.  He has been performing in bands for years, but it’s only within the last decade that he’s taken to writing/ recording his own music and performing solo shows or with his band The Heavy Hand along the west coast.  I’ve known Justin for over twenty years.  These are questions and stories that I have wondered about and am now so happy to have answers to.  I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I had conducting it!

Utah Concert Review:  As long as I’ve known you, you’ve been involved with music, whether it be with your former band Moz Eizley, or your current band The Heavy Hand and of course your solo work as well. I guess I’ve never known where you got started with music.  I know your dad plays a little guitar and is in a band right now. Is that how you got your start?

Continue reading “UCR Interview- Justin Hambly”

UCR Interview- Mike Peters of The Alarm

Interview by: Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Stuart Ling

If you were to write a screenplay using only actual events from the life of Mike Peters, a Hollywood exec would turn it down and say that it was too unbelievable.  The man has had an amazing career with his band The Alarm, fought through the challenges of an aging band in a youth driven music industry, and most importantly, overcome cancer three times.  Mike has co-founded the Love Hope Strength Foundation, the worlds leading rock and roll cancer foundation. They host bone marrow screening drives at concerts across the world hoping to “Save Lives, once concert at a time!”.  Along with Jules, his wife/ bandmate and fellow cancer survivor, Mike joins forces with Robin Wilson of Gin Blossoms, and Billy Duffy of The Cult to climb to some of the highest peaks in the world to perform the world’s highest concerts on land.  They are now taking their treks to the great canyons of the world. This past week they took part in Love Hope Strength Foundation’s Rock The Canyons fundraising event where they hiked through Sedona’s Red Rock State Park, along the famous Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail then continuing to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.  I was able to catch up with Mike just after this event. We speak about his adventure in Southern Utah, and he shares many career spanning stories. Enjoy!

Continue reading “UCR Interview- Mike Peters of The Alarm”

UCR Interview- Noah Kahan

Interview By: Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Alaina Mullin

Noah Kahan is an up and coming singer songwriter.  He actually might be past the “up and coming stage” since his show here in Utah is a sellout.  I had the chance to speak with Noah leading up to his show at The State Room.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed speaking with Noah.  

UCR: Where are you currently?

Noah Kahan: Today we are out in Canada in Toronto.

UCR: Nice! How’s the tour going so far?

NK: It’s been amazing. Not really like any other tour I’ve done since I’m headlining the states and a lot of the shows have been sold out. It’s been super surreal and really really rewarding.

UCR: I bet! The show here in Salt Lake City, at The State Room, is sold out. Now, I’ll never know what that feels like. Many people reading this interview will never know what it feels like to have a sold out show. It’s something I’d say most music fans can only fantasize about, but you’re actually having that experience. What does it feel like?

Continue reading “UCR Interview- Noah Kahan”

UCR Interview-Kiana Ledé

By: Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Katia Temkin

Arizona-born, multi-cultural singer, songwriter, producer, and actress Kiana Ledé released her much-anticipated, soulful debut EP, Selfless, this past summer.  You may have seen her on MTV’s Scream or All About the Washingtons on Netflix.  Now you can see her supporting Jessie J. tonight (October 8) at The Depot in downtown Salt Lake City.  I had the enjoyable opportunity to chat with Kiana leading up to the show.  Here’s our conversation.  Enjoy! 

Utah Concert Review:  How’s the tour going so far?

Kiana Lidé:   Oh it’s amazing!  It’s so much fun! Everyone on the tour has been amazing.  And we’re traveling every day. Getting to see the world. It’s great!  

Continue reading “UCR Interview-Kiana Ledé”

UCR Interview- Jim Avett (Father of the Avett Brothers)

By: Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Joel Plotkin

Jim Avett is performing at the Velour Music Gallery in Provo, Utah on Wednesday, September 19.  Jim’s last name might ring a bell. He’s the father of Seth and Scott Avett, better known as The Avett Brothers.  I had reached out to Jim’s management to request an interview and I received an email and phone call from Jim himself the following morning.  That isn’t common with artists, but as I soon learned, Jim operates on a very personal level.  We played a bit of phone tag, and I we finally connected on Mr. Avett’s return call. I answered with “Hello, this is Kevin.”.  He responded, “Well get over yourself”. His southern wit and North Carolina accent were thick and I immediately knew this was going to be a really enjoyable conversation.  And it sure was. Jim told me that he’s been told he’s the easiest person to interview ever because he does all the talking. And he’s right. But I had no desire to interrupt anything he was saying.  He answered my questions eventually, but in the process shared wonderful stories of life, music, and love. You’ll see that this interview starts with him talking. I pretty much thanked him for taking the time, and he was off and running.  I loved every minute of it! Hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jim Avett!

Continue reading “UCR Interview- Jim Avett (Father of the Avett Brothers)”

UCR Interview- Will Turpin of Collective Soul

By Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Joseph Guay

Collective Soul has joined up with 3 Doors Down on the “Rock & Roll Express Tour”, which makes its stop here in Utah on September 12, at the Days of ’47 Arena.  Which is on the Utah State Fairgrounds.  I had the opportunity to visit with Will Turpin about Collective Soul’s upcoming show here in Utah.  We also discussed his solo album Serengeti Drivers, U2, and Paul McCartney.  Enjoy!  

Utah Concert Review: Hi Will!  I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today.  Collective Soul and 3 Doors Down seem like a great pairing of bands for a tour.  What are some things bands can expect from this show?

Will Turpin:  Nice to speak with you today.  People are going to hear the songs that they know.  Some of this songs have become big hits. So they’ve kind of become the soundtrack to people’s lives in a way.  You’re going to get to see two different bands. So you’re going to see the different styles between us. I can really only speak to Collective Soul.  We have this thing, even 24 years later where we throw a lot of energy out there. It’s a tangible back and forth thing where the crowd gives us energy as well.  People can expect some great rock songs, and hopefully some great rock performances.

UCR:  I think that’s something comes across on your live album. You’ve been around for almost 25 years and this live album is a new release.  Sometimes I’ll hear a live album and I’ll think, ‘maybe I won’t go see them live.’, but with your album, it made me more excited to see the show in person.  

WT:  If we didn’t think that was still there, I don’t know how often we’d want to play live.  There’s definitely still something there where you can feel it. There’s a little magic there.  We definitely have the energy.

UCR:  Do you still get that anxiety before you take the stage, or have you done it so much that you’re just excited to be out there, but the nervousness has gone?  

WT:  There are instances of performing live where I’ll get a little anxiety.  Like performing on live TV you get a little anxiety. But when you’re on stage where you have fans there that have paid to come see you, you know they want to see us play, there’s really no nerves necessarily.  It’s really more of a ‘let’s go get it, let’s have fun’.

UCR:  If memory serves, Collective Soul has been to Utah for three summers in a row now.  And from what I’ve heard all the shows have been well received. Is there something about Utah and your fans here that keep you coming back so often?  

WT:  We definitely love the crowds there in Utah.  It’s always been a strong market for us. I’ve got to say we’ve been lucky.  We don’t necessarily have a weak market, but Utah has always been a very special place for us.  I don’t know, it seems like the crowds there are always extra special. Like I said before, it’s a two-way street.  I feel like we’re bringing it too, but we’ve always had great shows in Utah. That’s definitely something that’s real with us and that we recognize.  

Photo By: Joseph Guay

UCR:  You recently released a solo album.  It looks like you recorded with about 15 different musicians, some of which have spent time in Collective Soul in the past.  What are some of the benefits of recording a solo album as opposed to an album with the band?

WT:  First off I sit down and I start these songs with just me.  The inspiration starts from a different spot than a Collective Soul album.  With Collective Soul, it’s a rock band and I’m playing bass. The benefit of doing a solo album, you get to create and find yourself, and find your creative side outside of the setting that Collective Soul is, and it’s not that Collective Soul has ever been stifling in any way.  But as a band, we think it’s good for us to explore our art and whatever we’re feeling outside of Collective Soul. It’s not like with Collective Soul we’ve kept ourselves in a box. We cross a number of genres. It re-energizes you to be able to go create and finish these songs outside of the Collective Soul umbrella.  And in my mind, you might be able to hear some relevance to Collective Soul in a couple songs, but I don’t think they’re Collective Soul songs. And it’s not like I want them to be.  Like I said, it’s just a good thing to be able to go create outside of Collective Soul. It just makes us stronger when we get back together. We’re like “Woah Dude, we still have some magic when we’re together.”.  You can feel it, man, when we create together I still have those hairs that stand up on my skin. It’s a beautiful thing.

Photo By: Joseph Guay

UCR:  We touched on this a little, but next year Collective Soul will be celebrating 25 years as a band.  You have the benefit of playing a setlist that is filled with songs that have charted and some that have even reached #1.  I’m sure that took a lot of work. I’m curious with a band like yours, that has achieved so much success, what part of your career do you enjoy the most?  Is it the excitement of when you’re in the middle of making all of that happen? Or is it now where you have more control over your career, your touring, and I’m guessing your money?  What is better, the peak or the climb?

WT:  They are very different.  With us during the climb, during the beginning up until 2001 when we were with Atlantic Records, we were so busy and so focused on what we were going to do next, just so focused on taking steps forward to get to where we are now, it was hard to enjoy what was happening.  I mean, we were enjoying the moment, but we wanted to be that band that had a real catalog. We wanted to be that band that had more than one hit. So we were always going forward, forward, forward. So yeah, now there are different benefits being successful 24 years later.  We get to pick our schedule a little more, and we have a lot of fun. Me and Dean (Roland, rhythm guitar) grew up together so there’s a genuine friendship and a genuine love there. We don’t take it for granted, and we’re really appreciative. We appreciate the fans. We thank the fans every night, and we really mean it.  So yeah, it’s great to be in this spot all these years later. I think I’d have to say I like this spot better.

UCR:  Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?  

WT:  I think the first concert I had ever gone to was U2 Joshua Tree tour.  My dad was a musician so he played some big festivals here and there, but my first real concert I went to was that tour.  

UCR:  Did you happen to go to the Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour?

WT:  No, Dean and Ed (Roland, lead vocalist) got to go.  I saw some video of it though. Those guys, they just can’t do any wrong.  It’s just so amazing man.

UCR: They really can’t.  I mean how after all these years can U2 still be thinking of all these new and innovative ways to do a concert?  It’s nuts!

WT:  How? Seriously, How? And it’s still as amazing as ever!  It’s original, but still themselves. And still just four guys on stage.  

UCR:  Do you remember the first time you performed live?

WT:  It would have to have been in a talent show in like third grade.  I put Ace Frehley makeup on and I played drums to Steve Martin’s “King Tut”.  It was a comedy record I liked in third grade for some reason in third grade. I had KISS’ guitarist makeup on, and I was playing drums.

UCR:  That’s quite the combining of worlds there.  

WT:  Yeah! (laughing)  I combined them all together.  I don’t know why or what I was doing.

UCR:  Do you have a show you’ve attended that you thought “This is the best concert I’ve ever seen.”?

WT:   Paul McCartney is clearly my main inspiration and main idol.  I got to see him live 4 or 5 years ago and I can’t really mess with that.  Whenever he’s singing and playing that’s pretty much the best for me.

UCR:  I saw him here in Utah around the same time and it’s almost like a religious experience.

WT:  Oh, it was definitely a religious experience for me.  I didn’t realize how emotional I’d be. Just walking him on stage, I got very emotional.  And I’m a professional! This is what I do, and I got, woah, I was like a kid fan again. It was weird.  

UCR:  I love hearing that.  That’s exactly how I was.  For me when he walked out it was this weird feeling of “That’s really him!”.  And then he brings out his iconic Hofner Bass…

WT:  Oh Man, I mean, I was happy, but I was tearing up!  I was 43 years old and I was like “What the hell is going on here?”.

UCR:  Last question.  You’ve played so many shows that it might be impossible to pin down just one.  So I’ll ask, what was your favorite tour you’ve been on?

WT:  The best tour was the ‘95 tour with Van Halen.  It was Sammy Hagar’s last record with the band. They just treated us like little brothers.  I was 24 years old on that tour. The fact that Sammy Hagar, and Michael Anthony, and Eddie Van Halen are still friends of ours, it just means the world to me.  So that’s what I’ll always reference as my favorite tour. And as far as shows, I’d say both Woodstock’s ‘94 and ‘99.

UCR:  That must have been nuts.  Just an ocean of people out there.  

WT: It really was.  You could not see the end of humanity.  You just couldn’t see it. Especially the first one.  They estimated around 400,000 people out there.

UCR:  What a sight that must have been.  Thanks again for taking the time. It was a pleasure!  

WT:  Cheers man!  We’ll talk again later buddy!  

Collective Soul will be here in Utah with 3 Doors Down on September 12.  Tickets are still available.  Click here for tickets!  

Also, check out Will’s solo album Serengeti Drivers. Available wherever you get your music!  

UCR Interview: Interview 2 with Midge Ure of Ultravox

Interviewed By: Kevin Rolfe

Midge Ure of Ultravox and Visage fame returns to Salt Lake City Wednesday, September 5 at The Commonwealth Room with another great vocalist from the 80’s Paul Young.  I had the opportunity to speak with Midge this last week for the second time.  As you’ll see from the interview below, he was a pleasure to speak with.  

Utah Concert Review: Hi Midge, I’m looking at your tour schedule. It looks like you’re next stop on the tour is the Bay Area.  

Midge Ure:  Yeah we’re heading towards there. We have two nights off from Portland.  So we’re in a little town called Eureka, in California. Which we figured out was named because of the gold rush 150 years ago.  So we’re moving on from here on the way towards San Francisco. So we’re stopping off again tonight, which gives me a chance to let my very sad voice recover a bit before we do the show in San Francisco.  

UCR:  That’s a beautiful part of the country that most people don’t get to go through.  So I’m glad you’ve been able to experience that.

MU:  Oh, stunning!  I don’t know why I’ve never done that drive before.  We deviated off the I-5 which I think we’ve taken for most of our journey and went to the northern part of the 101, which of course meets with the Pacific Coast Highway.  It was just outstanding. So we drove through the Redwood Forest and the national state park. It was glorious. Sometimes touring has its benefits!

UCR: Definitely!  I think those Redwoods are something you have to see in person to really understand just how massive they are.  

MU:  Paul Young and I had a photo taken of us at the base of one of them with our arms outstretched, and we didn’t quite make it the width of the tree.  We posted it and someone said we looked like hobbits. I think that’s pretty close!

(We share a laugh)  I looked up the picture on Twitter, and he’s right, they look hobbit-esque next to this enormous redwood!

UCR: So how are things going with Paul?  I was excited to see that you guys paired up for a tour.  How did that come about, and how is it all going so far?

MU:  Well, we’ve known each other for a long time.  And we’ve worked together live a couple of times with the Nelson Mandela concert, and Live Aid, but we’ve never actually toured together.  So Paul up until last year hadn’t toured America for twenty five years. A bit like myself, prior to me coming back and touring here again.  We had just kind of lost all contact. Paul did the Retro Futura tour last year, a multi-act bill, and absolutely loved it. And when he was talking to me about it I said, ‘Well why don’t we team up and tour like how I do America?”.  I pick up some American musicians, I have had some great connections here. We go out and do this kind of like it was in the old days. There’s no crew, there’s no sound guys, there’s no lighting rigs. None of that stuff like we have everywhere else.  You go out and you do it on a grassroots level. And it’s been an absolute ball I have to say. Because Paul and I got on really well, and Paul’s guitar player who he’s brought over from the UK, I know him as well. And I’m working with the three American musicians we have.  It’s just been absolutely brilliant. It’s been fantastic.

UCR:  Utah Concert Review spoke with you about 18 months ago, and I recall you mentioning then that you were touring with a couple of American musicians.  Are these the same guys? Or do you have a totally new lineup?

MU:  One of them is the same musician.  The guy who was playing bass and keys for me, he’s doing bass duties.  It’s funny, he played perfectly good bass for me when I toured here 18 months ago.  But when I hear him play Paul’s stuff, which is all really tricky bass parts, I mean really tricky, I mean it’s Pino Palladino sliding fretless bass things, and he’s got it absolutely nailed!  He’s fantastic. So he’s really gone up in my estimation. I mean, he’s far too good for me. So he knew a couple of friends who also went to Berklee School of Music and they’re all just phenomenal.  If I can tell you, the drummer plays better guitar than I do. It’s frightening. They’re sickeningly talented!

UCR:  So in general terms.  I don’t want to give away any surprises, but what can your Utah fans expect from this tour?  Do you and Paul Young play separate sets? Or do you intertwine your songs?  And do we get to see you play together?

MU:  It’s two separate sets.  Depending on which way the coin falls, either Paul goes on first or I go on first.  And then we realize, of course, even when we arrived here to start rehearsing with the band, it wasn’t until we were in the middle of rehearsals that the idea came up, ‘Hold on a second.  We’re both doing independent sets. Surely people will be expecting us to come on together to do something. So, we do. At the end of the evening, we come on and we do a track. Neither of our particular songs, but a track that’s connected with us.  It’s great fun. It’s a great way to leave the evening.

UCR:  I’m very much looking forward to that.  So in thinking about this co-headlining tour, I wondered, had you ever done a co-headlining tour when you were with Ultravox that would you enjoyed, or was at least memorable?  

MU: Ultravox was such a complicated band.  We never coheadlined with anyone. We never did any festivals as such.  In the early days, the equipment was so archaic. It was so incredibly basic.  It would take us up to five hours to do a sound check. So we couldn’t open up for someone.  We couldn’t do festivals where it’s a very quick turnaround. We refused to use backing tapes like many of the bands did back them because it was so much easier to have sequences on bass or synthesizers all recorded.  But we refused to do it. So this is a whole new thing for me, doing a double package, or a multi-act bill. I mean, the last time Ultravox played about five years ago we did some shows with Simple Minds. And that was a great compatible bill.  It was a Simple Minds show, and we were the special guests. That just proved to be a huge, hot ticket.

UCR:  I love that you mentioned the word “Compatible”.  I feel like there are so many package shows, or many of these shows billed as “80’s” tours where the bands are not at all compatible.   

MU: I think sometimes when you get packages put together by promoters, they have a very different idea of what will appeal to people.  So they find acts that come from the era but not necessarily from the same genre. And it just falls on the ground. Nobody wants to see this mishmash of artists just because they happened to be around in the same decade. You end up staring at the sky for an hour until a band you do like comes on.  It doesn’t work. No one ever said, “I like an entire decade of music”. Things change radically over a ten year period. But when you do something like Ultravox and Simple Minds, or myself and Paul there’s a reason for it. It works. It’s compatible music.

UCR:  So as you mentioned, this is a kind of bare-bones tour.  No crew, no manager, etc. Are you also responsible for what venue you’re playing in a particular city?  If so, how do you decide?

MU:  It’s the one thing we don’t do. I can do many things, but I can’t book the venues.  I wouldn’t know how to go about it.

UCR:  It seems like it would be impossible for you to personally know the best venue to play in each city.  

MU:  Absolutely.  You have to be advised on that.  And sometimes the agent gets it absolutely right and targets it just to the right size venue. And sometimes they get it completely wrong where you find yourself playing the equivalent of an airplane hangar.  You know some huge vacuous place that you’re never going to fill. But you have to trust them, that they know their job. They don’t come and tell me how to play my songs, and I don’t tell them where to book the venues.  But I can say, ‘I want to play in this city, or that city’ and they will make that happen.

UCR:  I have to say that you will enjoy the venue here in Salt Lake City.  It’s called The Commonwealth Room. It’s practically brand new. Maybe six months old.  In fact, your show was one of the first announced when they opened their doors. The sound is fantastic, and I think the size will be perfect for your show.  Everyone there is great. I really think you’re gonna like it.

MU:  Oh great!  I’m looking forward to it.  

UCR:  I wanted to talk to you about your album Orchestrated.  I have to tell you that I love the album. I think the orchestrations and arrangements in your songs are excellent.  I’ve seen other artists who have attempted to orchestrate their music and the idea is great, but if it’s not done right it just doesn’t work.  Your album works. Was it your idea? Or were you approached with the idea?

MU:  Thank you!  I think it’s one of those things when you do perform stuff that I’ve written or stuff that I’ve done with Ultravox with an orchestra it really suits it.  The melodies and the grandiose elements, the cinematic elements that were always in Ultravox and my music are just enhanced when you do it with an orchestra.  And it can be a very powerful thing when it’s done properly. I was extremely lucky that when this idea came to fruition, which mainly came from other people who had seen clips of me performing with the orchestra scene saying “For God’s sake, you’ve got to do something with this.”.  And it was one of those ideas in the back of my mind that I’ve toyed with for years but never really thought anything of it. I never really wanted to pursue it. And then when I started taking it seriously and looking at who my sidekick would be because I do not read or write notation.  I don’t write music. So I could not orchestrate if you put a gun to my head. I wouldn’t know where to start. So I started looking for someone who would be sympathetic to the music. And I went through a few who were probably very good orchestrators but just did everything that I didn’t want.  They just threw some strings on and did the same kind of arrangement, and had brass playing instead of synthesizers, and there just wasn’t any soul in it. So by chance, I met a guy called Ty Unwin who writes film music for television series and things, who happens to be a massive Ultravox fan. Who knew everything I had ever done.  He was as passionate about the project as I was. I met him at Howard Jones’ house a few Christmases ago at a party. And I just got a feeling. I didn’t know he was an Ultravox fan at the time. I just knew he did film music. So I got in touch with him a couple months later and said ‘If we were to try to do something together, how do you think it would work?’. And he said “Look, I’ll choose one of your songs, and I’ll do an arrangement for you.  if you don’t like it great, and we’ll walk our separate ways.” He chose I think it was “The Voice” he did initially. And when I heard what he had done with it I just knew he had got it absolutely right. He put this heart and soul and passion into it. So we spent the next year, to eighteen months doing the arrangements and choosing the songs. Because all of them could make the transition to that type of arrangement. So between us, we chose all the songs.  He was suggesting things I had forgotten. He knew more of my stuff than I did! It was just a marriage made in heaven really. I was so happy with the final outcome because my big worry, which you will no doubt agree, was that I was going to ruin the memory of the original recordings for people. I wanted to enhance the music. I didn’t want to detract from it. I didn’t want people going “Oh, God that’s dreadful. I much prefer the original version.” I wanted to take the songs and take them slightly somewhere else.  Make them bigger, or more intimate, or sadder, or happier or whatever it was. Just do something different. And that’s what took the time.

UCR:  I think because you had that concern, you were able to enhance those songs in the right way.  I suppose the positive of having a great new album like this is how great the response has been.  But also perhaps the burden is there is an immediate clamor for a follow-up.  So I have to ask, is there talk of an Orchestrated 2?

MU:  I’ve got no idea to tell you the truth.  It’s still all very new to me. It’s an odd thing having an album of orchestrated music because you don’t really have an awful lot of outlets to play it.  Radio won’t play it because the arrangements are too long. You don’t just go in with a razor blade and start chopping up the arrangement trying to get them on the radio.  It just doesn’t work. It’s a piece of music from start to finish. So you’re kind of limited in how you promote it to let people know it’s out there. So I’m still in the process of thinking this is still just a fresh idea.  So we haven’t started working on anything else yet. As I’ve said, there’s a wealth of material. Besides with all the great response we got, there’s a lot of people saying “Why didn’t you do “Visions in Blue”? Why didn’t you do “One Small Day”?”  And they just kept throwing songs at me. I was like ‘You’re right’ but couldn’t keep doing it. You have to get something done and put it out and a bit of a breather before you do part 2. So it’s a possibility. But so is going in and doing a completely electronic album.  I’ve got no idea where I’m going. I never have had. I go in and I follow whatever feels right to me at that moment in time. So I cannot commit to doing a part 2 straight away but it was received so well that it would be a bit of a sin to not follow it up and do something else.  

UCR:  Final question.  Something that I’ve been very interested in with artists that have been around for a while.  And you’ve been a recording artist for 40 plus years now. So you’ve seen peaks and valleys in your career, but now things are stable.  You can book a tour and people will always show up. So what do you prefer, the peak, or the climb? Did you like the challenge of trying to become a successful artist, or do you prefer now, to where you’ve had the mainstream success, but now you have the stability of what your career produced?  

MU:  You’ve got to, on a purely human level, you’ve got to look back on the moment where things started to happen for you.  Everything changes. Except you. Hopefully. Everything around you changes. People attitudes towards you change. All of a sudden there’s a little bit of respect.  All of a sudden whenever you open your mouth, people want to hear what you have to say. And that can be a heady mix for any young person. I was in a sticky, smelly, carpeted rehearsal room when all of a sudden my manager walks in with a bottle of champagne saying you’ve got two top 40 singles and two top 40 albums all on the same day.  And that’s a wonderful feeling to think ‘Wow, I’ve I’ve done something kind of worthy’. But it’s a bit like a party. It’s over and done with very very quickly. And you’ve got to think ‘Ok, that was great. That peak was just wonderful. And that’s elevated me to allow me to do other things that could be more interesting. That could have longevity.’  Because as you say there are dips and peaks, but that success would give me a road that I can follow with that behind me. That little bit of success behind me has given me this ability to go forward and explore and do the things that I want to do. My first taste of commercial success was with a record that I didn’t write and I wasn’t allowed to play on.  And I vowed there and then that I would never, ever, ever allow myself to be put in that situation again. And I’ve never done it. I’ve followed my own weird, strange, wonderful, exciting path. And the fact, as you say, I have 40 plus years as a professional musician in this industry, I am just grateful that I wake up and I’m still allowed to do it. And that you only get by being stoic or being fastidious, or being stupid.  By sticking to your guns and doing what you think is interesting. As opposed to like, DJs coming in and remixing your music because that happens to be the current fad.

UCR:  Thank you so much Midge.  I could talk to you all day.  But I want you to rest that voice.  Can’t wait for September 5!

MU:  Thank you very much!  It was great talking to you again.  See you then!

Midge was so generous with his time!  We spoke about many other things, including the possibility of doing a concert with a live orchestra.  He hinted that something is in the works, but was not at liberty to say what just yet.  So keep your eyes peeled for that.  

Midge’s latest album Orchestrated is available everywhere! 

Mide Ure will be performing with Paul Young at The Commonwealth Room on Wednesday, September 5th.  To purchase tickets click here.  See you there!