Jack Hues, the voice of Wang Chung recently gave the Popblerd offices a call to tell us about the band’s latest album (Tazer Up! due on December 11th) and what it means to be in Wang Chung in 2012. You know you wanna read it:
It’s been over 2 years since Abducted By The ’80’s came out and 23 years since the last full-length, why was now the right time for a brand new Wang Chung album?
That’s a good question. I’m not sure there’s any real definitive answer to that other than we finally got it together to put the album (Tazer up!) out.
Is Wang Chung back full time? Can fans expect more new music and more albums in the foreseeable future?
Yeah. Wang Chung is Nick Feldman and me so we have other things going on in our lives. It’s not like the ’80’s where Wang Chung is the sole focus but there’s a whole backlog of material and a constant stream of new ideas and new material, too, so we’re just kind of setting up a way of being able to get that out to the world to anybody who’s interested and if there are, so much the better.
Whose idea was it to start the Tazer Up! with a reworked version of one of your biggest hits?
I think it was sort of a joint decision to do with the fact that for most people in the mainstream, outside a very small world of Wang Chung fans, we were a band in the ’80’s and we hadn’t been around since that time so “Dance Hall Days’ is there to add a bit of context really and to jog people’s memories about us.
Do you have a favorite song on the new one?
I like them all in different ways but I guess “Justify Your Tone” which is the one song that we didn’t actually write on the album (laughs).
How has your writing style changed over the years?
I think I’m someone and I think Nick’s the same as well, we’re sort of eternal students of music if you’d like. I don’t feel that we’ve already gotten to the top of the mountain yet so we’re constantly taking on new stuff. Nick, probably more than I, listens to a lot of new music. My style has probably been influenced quite a lot by bands like Radiohead for example or some electronic bands like Massive Attack. Bands that were sort of around in the early ’90’s. Having said that, Wang Chung is a band that doesn’t have a strong identity in the sound and whether it has to do with my voice or the way that we write or whatever. I think this new album, for most people, sounds like an interesting mix of classic Wang Chung with a more contemporary sound.
What has the fan reaction been like since not only reactivating Wang Chung, but also to the newer music?
Really great. We’ve been playing some of the new stuff when we’ve played live. We didn’t play in The States this year but we’ve been touring around and people love it. They react as well to the new stuff as the old classics which we’re grateful for and excited by as well.
Is there a tour planned in support of Tazer Up!?
We hope to be touring this summer. There’s a few festivals that want to book us so we’ll be working around that. I think logically the tour will be around August to keep people fired up with Tazer Up! for six months or so. The great thing about the internet is you can keep people constantly updated and tease them along with stuff. We’ve been really gratified with the number of people who have started following us on Facebook and all that stuff. It’s all very cool.
What is it like being a member of Wang Chung in 2012 vs when the band first began?
(Laughs) I think it’s a lot less stressful. In the ’80’s there was a lot of pressure although it was super exciting to get records on the US charts and the success of “Dance Hall Days” was fabulous. I remember we did a big tour with The Cars in 1984 and that was exciting. At that time you feel like you’re being judged all the time and every gig gets reviewed. Everything you say gets weighed up whereas now you can sort of do what you like. I like where Wang Chung is in the cultural significance, if you like, in America. I think most people feel the band is quite interesting and I also see a lot of people who see us as a bit of a pop band but I think if people go underneath the surface (Like To Live And Die In L.A. for instance) they realize there’s a bit more going on. To still have a degree of freedom to do what we’d like even at this late stage, that feels pretty good.
Did you ever consider pursuing film scores more after To Live And Die In L.A.?
I did. I think, for me, it would’ve meant moving to L.A. I had young-ish kids who were in the UK and I wanted them to grow up in the UK. Working with (William) Friedkin was great because you were dealing with the boss. When you make a decision about the score, you can phone him up and he’ll come over and listen and go “Yep. Great.”. I did a little bit of work for HBO after that and you’re working with a director on a show but the show is being screened by layers and layers on sort of a corporate level and you’ll get a phone call like “Well, can you make it like this or more like that?” and I found that sort of the whimsicality of the music being the last thing that’s added…I found that sort of uphill to deal with. I think people in the movie business in those days would look at the pop business and go “Why do you bother? You don’t make any money as a pop musician. This is where it’s at.”. In the pop business, there’s a lot of attitude and I’ve always liked that. When I left school, I did get a degree in music and classical music and stuff, so I think I have a whole pretty eclectic overview of music. I like the pop business because people kind of just let you get on. If people kind of like it then they’ll put money into it and get behind it. There’s a lot of freedom and I like that.
In your 20+ year career so far, what body of work or song do you hope you’ll most be remembered for?
That’s a good question. I guess “To Live And Die In L.A.” actually would be fine. I think for the people that like that song, it means a lot to them. I think it’s a good song about a city that has been very good to me.
Tazer Up! is out on December 11th. Check out the samples and order yours here.
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