The Fixxes closed room was a slow burn to success. The 1982 album included songs like “Stand or fall” and “red skywhich are now fan favorites and staples of the band’s live set. But MCA Records, the band’s label at the time, was unsure what to do of their last signature.
The band refused to get lost in the shuffle. Now, more than four decades after those initial steps, they still produce some of the most intriguing sonic sounds on record.
Every five seconds, Fixx’s 11th album, continues in this direction. It also deepens their connection with Stephen W. Tayler (Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins), who was elevated to producer status after working with the band as engineers on a series of LPs beginning with Bedroom with shutters.
The title of the new album, taken from the lyrics of “Alone like a beaconis a direct acknowledgment that surviving the 24/7 news cycle can be a challenge. “There’s kind of a panic to be alive today,” Fixx singer Cy Curnin told UCR. ” Walk [from] mindlessness to mindlessness is like a flicker – the flame keeps going out if you turn the oxygen off, and it keeps reigniting when you turn it back on. But he’s also the type to find a positive path forward. “We should create love out of the pain we feel,” Curnin adds.
Curnin discussed the latest Fixx record and other topics ahead of their current tourwhich mixes new songs with an array of classics.
Listen to Fixx’s “Cold”
How much did this new album cost in preparation before the pandemic?
We were sort of well advanced before the pandemic, but the final selection of songs – we had a lot more songs than we thought would end up on the record. So the pandemic gave us a sort of rest period to play around with the current orders and which songs would work better than others. And, it’s like there’s a weird thing that no matter what band you hang out with or what order it is in, it always seems to tell you the story of now. There’s a kind of weird prophetic, “Ah, the cards speak to me”, you know? There’s an “Oh, that means that.” I think the relevance of this is to connect to universal truths. They are ubiquitous; they are constant. So no matter what you drop there, you can always get home through the tea leaves. [We’re] a bunch of guys who when we have conversations together, we’re pretty fiery when we talk. As a lyricist trying to capture who we are as a band, I end up coming up with these enigmatic themes, because we have quite diverse thoughts in the band – which is fine, but you have to have the viewpoints of each in a single point of view, and don’t be too categorical and caustic to win an argument. You kind of have to listen a lot, be in a band, and maybe that’s why we’ve survived so long – because we’re good listeners.
I like the way “Cold” and “Spell” follow each other on this album. How related were these songs from the start?
They were written, literally, in the same week and so there was a desire. There was a kind of vulnerability about the breakup aspect and the cold nature of honesty when you get to a point in a relationship where it’s like, there’s no way out but with an honesty pure, sharp and painful. Then right after that, the magic of rebuilding and reforming starts to – identity is looking for a new way, a new way of being. There is relief after the blackout, that is, when you got cold and suddenly you’re back there again, literally casting spells and trying to remember to forget the past, because it can really ruin your moment if you’re constantly carrying away the pain of the past. Then you just need to thrive with just the present moment. So between those two songs, it covers an emotional battle towards some sort of redemption, I think.
Watch the video for “One Thing Leads To Another”
I read a 1983 interview of melody maker and a quote from Adam Woods where he noted that MCA didn’t quite figure out how to market the band. How long was there when you thought the chances of success might be doomed?
The first thing I remember is that we had closed room and there was – alternative radio was beginning to flourish on the East Coast, when college radio started. So suddenly, “Stand or Fall,” “lost planes‘ and ‘Red Skies’ from that album did well there. Then MTV blossomed, and then we had some – I remember, we were fighting with the record company trying to get a £5,000 budget to make a video. You know, the budget for our first video ended up being the lunch bill for the last video. [Laughs.] During this 10 year period, you could see the record company waking up [the idea that] if they throw enough money into this stuff, stuff will happen. But what really happened was that MCA England was – you know, it was a different record company than MCA America. Luckily the guy who signed us to England was smart enough to see we had something different, but he wasn’t savvy enough to see how to market it alongside this kind of New Romantic [sound]. He didn’t quite see the shelf or the connection between alternative music and classic rock, or the instrumentation that would appeal to a wider market. Then when we came to the States they had a completely different feel.
We had alternative radio and then you had rock radio that started playing shit like “Red Skies” and “Stand or Fall”. They didn’t touch “One thing leads to another” or “saved by zero“, but they kept playing the heavier stuff. Then”Deeper and deepercame along, and then “Driven Out,” and that kept us alive in rock radio. had a lot of outlets for it, and then MTV is supporting it – everything was done to become more visual, so we had to catch up on how to become a live actor, because it started to pick up speed. United got bigger and bigger for us, and in England it kind of shrunk because that initial mode of marketing never quite connected, so we ended up having to go back with like, “Hey, look at us, we made a ton of sales. We had huge success in America. The English press hated the fact that we went to America without their blessing. So it stuck with us for a while, but we weren’t complaining.
Watch Tina Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me” Video
The music videos the band made were memorable. What was the most difficult?
Well, actually, it wasn’t a video for us. This was the video we did for Tina Turner. Jamie [West-Oram] and I appeared on [Private Dancer], Jamie played guitar and I sang. We were asked to do “Better Be Good to Me” in Los Angeles, and we just had to fly to Australia, like three days later. So it was a rushed flight from London to Los Angeles to make this video, and then I stupidly decided to dance barefoot. After about 16 hours of “again, again, again,” my feet were so blistered till they–I couldn’t take another step. I went backstage, saw a few stagehands playing with some of that 80s powder, shall we say? And they were like, “Hey, do you want some?” and I said, “Sure,” and I took some and just rubbed it on the soles of my feet. [Laughs.] So they were, like, appalled that I was using their expensive Peruvian flake to rub the blisters on my feet, but hey, it worked. It made me spend another hour.
Working with Tina Turner must have been quite an experience.
Yeah, she’s powerful – powerful and serene at the same time. You know, when someone has a huge life force in them, they don’t really have to let it out all the time. They move very gracefully and quietly, you know, softly spoken and then all of a sudden in front of the mic, “Raaah!“The sound of the universe roars at you. She taught me a lot about mic technique and posture – you know, how to stand. When we were singing backing vocals together, literally, she was at the bottom of the room and we were on the mic, and she was even louder than us. She was a force and yes, and she introduced me – I was just starting to get interested in Buddhist philosophy at the time. She introduced to a guy called Dr. Singer, who was an Ayurvedic doctor who literally scratched and sniffed. That was his technique. That’s how he healed you: he would scratch and sniff around your body and tell you what was wrong with your lymphatic system. and healed you through crash diets and meditation techniques. I learned a lot from him through her. So I have fond memories of it.
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