Seminal post punk Psychedelic Furs are much happier second time round

Psychedelic Furs

Psychedelic Furs

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THE whole ‘band-playing-a-classic-album’ concept is a cash cow that’s been over-milked in recent years. But if the band happens to be The Psychedelic Furs, and if the album happens to be the seminal Talk Talk Talk, then it’s okay to get excited.

The second studio album by the British post-punk band didn’t exactly set the charts on fire upon its release in 1981, with the singles Dumb Waiters, Mr Jones and Pretty In Pink all failing to chart on both side of the Atlantic.

By 1986, however, an American teen romantic movie drama by John Hughes, starring the likes of Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton, James Spader and Gina Gershon cemented its place in music history and a new audience for Talk Talk Talk.

Unlike other artists who shun their back catalogue in favour of new songs, vocalist and chief songwriter Richard Butler says the Furs will happily dust off all the classics as they kick off their UK tour at Liquid Room tomorrow night.

“When you’ve been in a band for, say, ten years, people want to hear certain songs, and if they don’t hear those songs they get p****d off,” he says. “So you’re torn between wanting the audience to be happy and wanting to get out what you want to say.

“It gets difficult the longer you go because, in a way, you do become a jukebox - it’s the pressure of your audience. And that’s why we quit at that time. It became boring.”

Bands who return to the fray after long periods away to perform a classic album are often accused of being ‘nostalgia’ acts, but Butler says it’s a no-win situation in many ways.

“Without doing a nostalgia packaged tour, you become a nostalgia act to a lot of people anyway,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether you are us or if you are U2,” says the 56-year-old Londoner, who formed the Psychedelic Furs in 1977 with bassist brother Tim. “I think U2 are kind of nostalgia. You hear them do a song and it’s, ‘Yeah, I remember... I met my girlfriend to this song.’ It’s all that kind of stuff.

“You become associated with people’s past memories, and that’s the definition of nostalgia, really.”

After a decade of touring, Butler and his bandmates got sick of being The Psychedelic Furs and in 1991, they decided to call time on the band.

“It was really very amicable,” Butler recalls. “We had been doing it for so long that the process became predictable. I think we all wanted to do different things.

“We had a great run, but after you’ve been playing Pretty In Pink almost every night for ten years, things are bound to feel pretty old. There weren’t any surprises left, so we moved on.”

Having regrouped in 2001, The Psychedelic Furs continue to tour, despite releasing their last studio album - the excellent World Outside - as far back as 1991.

There is a strong chance of a new album from the band some time in the future, but for now they’re sticking to playing older material.

“Some of the songs that are in the Talk Talk Talk set, we haven’t played since the album came out,” says Tim Butler. “It’s quite refreshing.

“It’s been more than 30 years since we’ve done songs like I Wanna Sleep With You and So Run Down - so that stops it from being the usual suspects.”

Asked what he recalls about the recording of Talk Talk Talk, Tim laughs and says he remembers waking up with a lot of hangovers.

“I recollect going to the pub around the corner from the studio about 11 o’clock. We’d get drunk until the pub closed and we’d grab a six-pack and go to the rehearsal studio and jam. And then at five thirty when the pub opened, we’d be back there.

“I remember a lot of fights, a lot of energy and aggression - everybody was trying to get their input in. It just happened to all click.”

Older and presumably wiser, the band are enjoying themselves a lot more the second time around.

“Since we’ve been back together, it’s been fun, whereas towards the end, before we took the hiatus, it was getting to be like work,” says Tim. “The whole ‘album, tour, album, tour’ bit, trying to make a hit that beats the last record - it’s a lot of pressure, and it tends to take the fun out of it.”

The Psychedelic Furs, Liquid Room, Victoria Street, 7pm, £22.50, www.liquidroom.com

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