Reporter: Judith Grinter
As a girl I was just becoming interested in Pop music and found that a new rising star was living and playing in the town next to mine. Howard Jones. I remember clearly seeing him play at the local Town Hall and then following him to London to see him playing at the renowned Marquee. Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing him for Saddleworth News, and the experience for me was as wonderful as I thought his music was then:
How did your early years influence your music?
I moved to High Wycombe when I was 14 went to school and formed my first band there. I went to Manchester to go to the Royal Northern College of music and did 2 ½ yrs there, and then came back to Wycombe and then started to get the idea of the one-man electronic band. I moved into Green Street and had like a huge PA system in the front room – then played in places like the Nag’s head, Lane end and going up to London to the Marquee where the record companies were in the look out.
Has your audience changed over the years?
They’ve kinda grown up with me I guess. Started coming to see me in the 80’s grown up and are now bring their own kids. So, with the new ways for people to get hold of music more people are discovering me on places like Spotify and places like that. I’m getting quite a lot of young people who are interested in the history of electronic pop.
Who are your greatest influences?
I grew up listening to radio, pop music was big. The Beatles, The Stones, Freddie and the Dreamers when I was really young, then Keith Emerson, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, a very eclectic mix of music. I love Bowie, I love T-rex anyone who had a bit of character about them and did it well. And of course some classical music that I play in the background had a big influence on me.
You recently wrote and played music on Eddie the Eagle Film
Gary Barlow phoned up and wanted to sort a sound track, and wanted 80’s sounding music but brand new. The narrative of the story is wonderful and so to write a song that reflects that, I really really enjoyed that. I wrote two songs, you can’t really hear the second one but I’m going to put it on the next album.
Now you’re playing with your electric band, how did that come about? And who are they?
When I’ve gone out touring with the band it’s normally a three piece; Robbie on sequences and synths and live processing and then Jonathan Atkinson on electric drums. We’ve added to that Robin Boult on guitar who’s been in my band for about 2 decades and done a lot of acoustic music with me, and a young lady called Emily Doland-Davis who’s an amazing talented drummer – so we’ve bolstered up the rhythm side of life.
Will you be wearing boiler suits on your tour?
No, no boiler suits – haha.
Will Jed be joining you?
No, no Jed. Jed stopped coming out on tour with me around 1987. We’re still very good friends. We’ve just done a piece on the One Show and Jed was part of that.
What do you remember about Manchester?
I had a very significant time at the Music College, and went to see a lot of bands when I was there. I also played on Piccadilly radio 2 or 3 times a week, I used do to play live doing covers. That was a really amazing experience. I was in a band called the Bicycle Thieves based in Didsbury. It was great.
When you were in Manchester did you ever come to Saddleworth?
No, I don’t think I did. I never got that far sadly.
Howard Jones is playing at the Manchester O2 Ritz on the 24th Nov – tickets available via ticketmaster.