Steve Strange and the Detroit Starrzz
ARE you ready to fade to grey? Steve Strange, the ever colourful frontman of synth legends Visage certainly isn’t - even if he is currently sporting a more monochrome look. The original Blitz Kid pops into The Citrus Club tomorrow night with his new band, The Detroit Starrzz, but promises that all the old favourites will feature too, 80s classics such as Mind Of A Toy, The Damned Don’t Cry, Night Train, and of course, the seminal Fade To Grey.
Primarily a studio band, Visage released three albums in the 1980s, the eponymous Visage in 1980, The Anvil in 1982 and Beat Boy two years later. Nearly three decades on, a fourth is in the pipeline, reveals the singer who was born Steven John Harrington on 28 May, 1959 in Caerphilly, Wales.
In the meantime, however, Strange has been channelling his energies into the next best thing.
“I’m working on my solo album with The Detroit Starrzz,” he says, “and at the Citrus Club we’ll be introducing quite a few numbers from the Detroit Starrzz forthcoming album.”
One of those tracks, Aiming For Gold, retains the Visage signature synths and Strange vocals, a promise of things to come from the long awaited new album which Strange, Rusty Egan and Midge Ure have been working on.
“The Detroit Starrzz’s origins are very similar to those of Visage - it’s a collection of musicians who are very much in tune with what is going on and happening today,” explains the 52-year-old.
Visage was born out of the legendary Blitz Club in London, where all the beautiful people hung out. People like Boy George and David Bowie. Recalling how it all started, Strange says, “I had got bored with punk rock because the skinhead element had moved in and it had got very National Front orientated - there was so much violence at gigs. Also newspapers were telling you how to rip your clothes and safety pin them back together. All the originality and creativity had gone. I wanted to create these special nights and, because of the way I looked I started to appear in fashion and society magazines. Then we launched the Blitz Club, where we pioneered a whole new wave of electronic music.”
New Wave and Visage were born. That was in 1979, a year short of three decades later, no-one was more surprised than Strange himself when he was asked to appear in the BBC crime drama Ashes to Ashes... as himself, performing Fade To Grey at the Blitz Club.
“Doing that was quite bizarre. It was such a phenomenal thing to be asked to recreate the actual make-up I wore in Fade To Grey.”
Laughing, he adds, “Actually, I was quite amazed at what make-up can do because they made me look as young as I was when I did the video first time around.”
In a way, that cameo on Ashes To Ashes brought him full circle - in 1980 he had appeared in the video for David Bowie’s single of the same name. “Bowie admits himself, and I’m not putting him down, I admire the man immensely, that he is a very clever thief. He’ll say himself that he’s a magpie, and the reason he came to The Blitz was to say, ‘I love what you’re doing. Will you please appear in my video? Will you please choose and dress the extras, and last of all, may I please borrow your make-up artist for the day of the shoot?’ ” the Welshman laughs.
Strange was introduced to a whole new generation of fans in 2006 when he took part in, and won, the BBC 3 series Celebrity Scissorhands.
“Yeah, it did,” he agrees, before his self-deprecating humour kicks in again, “It introduced me to a whole new generation of fans, but they didn’t know me as ‘Steve Strange the iconic front man of Visage’, to them I was ‘the crazy barber’.
“I was in that show for two years running and then I had to leave because I had some form of really bad food poisoning, but that series was so popular. It was the first show to break the one million viewing mark on BBC 3.”
Over the years Strange has gone from pop star to fashion icon to club host, but everything always comes back to his music and his ‘look’.
Smiling he assures, “I still wear make-up on a daily basis, obviously not as theatrical now, but at The Citrus Club I will have on the full costme and all the stuff.”
Citrus Club, Grindlay Street, tomorrow, 7pm, £9-£12, 0131-622 7086