For twenty years now, there has been no more tireless a pair of advocates for the glory of synth-pop than Erasure. Andy Bell and Vince Clarke have been making outstanding pop music that moves the dancefloor and the pop charts, and even when exploring new sounds and textures, their devotion to electronic music has never waned.
Their newest album Union Street (Mute) reconfigures several of their back catalogue nuggets and some choice B-sides in a acoustic fashion, demonstrating that the strength of a good pop song is unbound by genre. Vince and Andy spoke with dancemusic.about.com's own Ron Slomowicz from a recent European tour date, just before beginning the U.S. leg of their tour in Nashville at the Ryman Auditorium.
DJ Ron Slomowicz: What inspired the acoustic approach for Union Street?
Andy Bell: When we were doing radio promotion in America for the Other Peoples' Songs record, we did some acoustic radio sessions that went down really well, especially some of the Erasure songs that we had done, kind of a slowed-down version of Oh L'Amour, and we thought it would be a really good way of revisiting the back catalogue.
RS: Which is your favorite song to perform in this style?
Vince Clarke: I'm really enjoying all of them. It's obviously the new album we're emphasizing, but we've done new versions of songs like Blue Savannah and A Little Respect, and dragged in a little bit of a kind of hillbilly tilt, so those songs have been going down particularly well.
RS: How did you choose that songs that would be on Union Street?
Vince Clarke: We were working with a guitarist called Steve Walsh who has appeared on a couple of acoustic sessions with us before, and he has a great network of musicians both from Nashville and from New York, so he was kind of the musical director for the project. And he got together with banjo players, double gypsy bass players, and steel pedal guitar players and put the whole thing together. So for me, we've really taken the back seat and are just enjoying the process.
Andy Bell: Vince and Steve just sat down and went through the albums that we wanted to feature and the songs from each of those albums. And I didn't have a problem with that at all and, you know, Vince sent me the list, I thought, yes, this is fine, and I just suggested doing a couple of the B-sides that people might not know.
Vince Clarke: I had a listen to what I felt were the strongest melodies. The test for the album were songs that we felt could be played with just voice and an acoustic guitar. And if they worked in that way then they were going to be on the album, so that was the test.
RS: Have you thought about taking the aesthetic for Union Street and reinterpreting your other, older music in a different way, say more experimental or in a jazzy way?
Andy Bell: I don't know. I'm a fan of different types of music now. I love Threepenny Opera and I like 40s and 30s big band music, but I think what we're looking for now is writing new material.
RS: So after Union Street you're going to be doing a new album?
Andy Bell: Yes, we're doing a new album, yes. Electro pop again.