Gen Xers and lovers of ’80s new wave rejoice: Erasure, the chart-topping, award-winning two-man New Wave megaband started by Vince Clarke and Andy Bell nearly 30 years ago is releasing a new album on Tues. September 23rd The Violet Flame their 16th studio album, offers a unique blend of empowerment, optimism, sexuality, and euphoric, synth-fuelled melodies.
Having sold 25 million albums and achieved more than 40 hit singles, Erasure is a part of post-Stonewall history, a band among those most often associated with the emergence of 1980s LGBT movement in America. Every club, bar, and Pride festival played their music. In all they’ve sold 25 million albums and achieved more than 40 synth-fueled hit singles including “Oh L’Amour,” “A Little Respect,” “Blue Savannah,” “Star,” “Chains of Love,” and “Who Needs Love (Like That).” And through it all, musician Andy Bell has remained a powerful (and only slightly aging) gay sex symbol who happens to be HIV-positive. Erasure’s emotionally charged new album, The Violet Flame (their 16th studio album), is out September 23, and they have a tour planned across both the U.S. and Europe (which culminates with shows at New York’s Terminal 5 on December 30 and 31). Fans are already (virtually) lining up for tickets. Bell talks to us about inspiration, love, and HIV stigma — and what it meant to find love again with his partner, Stephen Ross.
What’s the biggest difference between the band’s 1980s-era shows and the ones to expect on the Violet Flame tour?
I think the earlier shows had all the bells and whistles thrown in. These days we’re a lot calmer and it’s more about the emotional impact of the songs — and of course my flawless delivery!
After 30 years of Erasure, what keeps you inspired?
I think you just realize that what Vince and I have is something really unique and special, and our egos just don’t come into it anymore. We just really enjoy the craft of songwriting and performing, and all the rest is just nonsense.
When you came out as HIV-positive in 2004, the first thing you posted to your website was “Being HIV-positive does not mean that you have AIDS. My life expectancy should be the same as anyone else’s, so there’s no need to panic.” Did people panic?
I don’t think people did panic, even though I’d been fretting about it a number of years before going public. I think for everybody who finds out they are positive, it takes a while to sink in and come to terms with it. But after a while, it makes you value your life and put things into perspective. I get such a thrill when I go into the clinic and see couples in their 60s; it makes me feel terrific, and I am so proud to be one of them.
What’s it like to be highly visible and thus on the front lines of fighting the stigma against HIV-positive gay men?
I definitely have my ups and downs like anybody else, but generally I’m quite a positive person. It takes a hell of a lot to break a Taurean’s back. I guess we are all very fortunate to have been born at just the right time. I care about being a decent human being.
Does any particular song on The Violet Flame speaks to the experience of someone living with HIV?
Not particularly, but I suppose because where I am in my life, it’s a reason to celebrate and it comes out in the music.
Was the breathtaking new song “Smoke and Mirrors” inspired by your late partner, Paul M. Hickey, who died in 2012?
It was inspired by Paul, but we were both such drama queens that I just wanted to lay everything bare on the table. He knows I was there through to the end and still am. It is such a tough experience to have gone through, but we’re all just one of billions and billions.
How did finding love again add to the sense of optimism on The Violet Flame?
[Erasure’s last album] Snow Globe [made after Paul died] was quite cathartic. I’d met Steve in the interim and he really helped me through the whole thing. I don’t know what I would have done without him, so The Violet Flame is a thank-you and is all about a new life cycle beginning. It’s all about hope, forgiveness, being given a new chance, and the world being your oyster. I feel so lucky and so blessed — it sounds really corny, but to have been loved even one time in your life is amazing, and to have a second chance is amazing and to have a second chance is incredible.
Source: The Advocate