March 30, 2018 Interview – Andy Wickett Talks Duran Duran & Life In Music
When you love something, it is almost impossible to give it up. Thankfully some muses are not hazardous to our health, and for Andy Wickett, his fix has forever come at the hand’s of music. A dedicated singer-songwriter, Birmingham, England’s Wickett has been in the game for forty years, spending time with his band TV Eye, later with World Service, and even fronting Duran Duran! A highly talented musician, few are aware that Wickett penned most of the Duran Duran hit “Girls on Film” as well as the song which became “Rio” prior to his exit from the band. Now a veteran on the scene, Wickett continues to craft exciting new music, recently releasing Creatures of Love on CD back on March 9th via Cleopatra Records. Recently we caught up with the busy creator to talk his time with Duran Duran, the story behind “Girls on Film,” his latest album, plans for the future, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music professionally for over four decades now, from early days with TV Eye to your time with Duran Duran to your solo career, as well as time with your band World Service. First, briefly tell us, what has your experience been like devoting your life to music?
Andy Wickett – It’s been very interesting. (Laughs) It can be hard, yet something keeps pulling me into it. (Laughs)
CrypticRock.com – Obviously you have a great passion for it.
Andy Wickett – Yea, I can’t get enough. It’s like an addiction.
CrypticRock.com – Few people know, but you were in fact the original vocalist of Duran Duran. How did you become involved with the band, and what inevitably led to your parting ways with them?
Andy Wickett – Well, at the time, they used to like my band TV Eye, they used to come to the gigs. Stephen Duffy was their singer, he left Duran Duran, I left TV Eye, we sort of swapped bands. Eventually, I started getting into Dub Reggae, so I went more into doing that sort of stuff afterwards.
CrypticRock.com – Very interesting. Also, little known to many people, you played a significant part in the writing of the track “Girls on Film” as well as the chord progression that eventually became “Rio.” Speaking of which, you released your version of “Girls on Film” recently. A much darker rendition, what are your memories of recording the track?
Andy Wickett – We did it at Bob Lamb’s studio, the same studio where UB40 did their first album. It was like a flat, he had his bed above the mixing desk and there was another little room where we recorded it, we all crammed into there. I wrote the song while I was working at Cadbury’s Chocolate factory on the night shift. The band was rehearsing in my room at the time in Birmingham. I showed them the song and they really liked it. Then they took the demo tape to London, and they said they really liked “Girls on Film” and really liked my voice. They asked if they had anymore songs like “Girls on Film,” they’d sign us up.
CrypticRock.com – It is always fascinating to learn the origins of a band. Duran Duran has seen their sound shift in various directions through the years. As for your music, you have also experimented with various sounds.
Andy Wickett – Yes, you listen to different music and all those influences go in there along the way.
CrypticRock.com – Right, and as you grow as a person, your influences change. You recently released a brand new album, entitled Creatures Of Love. What was the writing and recording process like for this album?
Andy Wickett – Some of the tracks were from old TV Eye demo recording, rehearsals from years back. There were around 5 or 6 ideas we wanted to get an album out with those on and some of my songs. We put them together, recorded them, and that is how the album came to be.
CrypticRock.com – The album is a delightful mix of Pop tones that are both darker and lighter. As the producer of the album, was it important to you to strike a balance between these textures?
Andy Wickett – I like Pop, I like a good melody. I don’t like mainstream Pop, I am more into The Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Iggy Pop. I like a bit of weird, kind of Alternative – like Joy Division. A bit of sweetness and darkness, I like a mixture. It is hard to pull off, I think. Trying to get that balance, it can go either way. It all comes out pretty much subconscious anyway. You just get drawn into this creative space and that is what comes out. It is probably all the music I’ve been into filtered through my interpretation. Hopefully it becomes an original thing, obviously nothing is completely original, it is all picked up from somewhere else.
CrypticRock.com – Well the album came out great. You also worked with a lot of great musicians as well. What was it like working with everyone?
Andy Wickett – They were great! Obviously they were part of World Service at the time, obviously that changes a bit, I work with different people. It was great, really excellent singers and players. It added some spice to it.
CrypticRock.com – It certainly does add a dynamic to all the songs. Are there plans for live performances in support of the new album, perhaps even to the USA?
Andy Wickett – I would like to, I have been asked to go over there. Hopefully it can happen fairly soon. At the moment, I am recording the next album, so I don’t know where the tour will be. It would be good to have some gigs in The States and come over.
CrypticRock.com – That would be exciting. Since you are already working on some new music, what can we expect to hear?
Andy Wickett – It’s hard to say. I have all the tracks ready, but they can change. I can’t really say what it’s going to be, I don’t know. Kind of the same, but not the same. I am not really good at being specific of my vision at the moment. It is like painting it slowly. I don’t sort of sit down and have a vision saying I want to have an album like this. Sometimes I do, not with the last two though. It just grows itself, it is an organic process, honestly.
CrypticRock.com – That makes sense. One can imagine if you do have a set plan, once you start working, it can change as you go, right?
Andy Wickett – Yea, usually I do. Obviously the producer will reign me in a bit sometimes because I tend to have too many ideas. He will help me cut bits out and fine tune stuff. It is good to have someone like that, because I tend to put too much in there because I have too many ideas. I get too attached to things, but you can’t have all that in at the same time. It is good to have someone on the outside giving me a bit of guidance.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, sometimes you need that. Well, it will be fun to hear even more new music. You mentioned how, earlier, you put your own spin on things. Speaking of which, you did a cover of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.” It is a very interesting rendition. What are your memories of doing that?
Andy Wickett – We were looking for someone to help us with the music. Someone who ran a publishing company asked if we could do a cover of “A Day in the Life?” So we went into the studio in the night, and that is what we came up with. He said he wanted me to go back and singing it higher, which I did, but I didn’t think it was as atmospheric so we left it as it was. I was surprised how it came out, I liked it at the time. Jeff Cornforth, the keyboard player, his arrangement is really good. Roger Cornforth on the bass, who is great, he played the drums as well. They are really multitalented guys. A lot of it is thanks to them as well.
CrypticRock.com – It is a very unique version. It certainly has an original feel, the arrangement is very different. Anyone who has not heard it should check it out.
Andy Wickett – It would be good to get put somewhere.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely! Being a musician who had a firsthand experience of the Synth movement during the late ’70s exploding into the ’80s, what are your thoughts on today’s Alternative Pop music which has explicitly integrated a classic Electronic sound?
Andy Wickett – I remember how everyone was getting rid of all their analog stuff and digital samples came along. I think it has come back around. I bought an updated version of a Moog, they are all releasing the old stuff again. I think the digital doesn’t have the same vibe, it can be flat and too perfect. There is a lot more character in the old synths.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed, totally. It is interesting how people have changed their opinion about Electronic music.
Andy Wickett – Yea, all the Dance music is all keyboards and electronic bits of guitar. Computers, they changed everything didn’t they? We used to record onto tape, you had to get it right. Some studios spliced it up, take the best bits, but anyone can now do it home. It’s changed everything.
CrypticRock.com –Yes, things have certainly changed a lot in terms of recording technique. Last question. We also cover Horror and Sci-Fi films on CrypticRock. If you are a fan of either or both genres, what are some of your favorites and why?
Andy Wickett – I love those films! My favorites, well obviously Blade Runner (1982), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Barbarella (1968). For Horror, I will go with Frankenstein (1931) and Dracula (1931), those are my favorites.
CrypticRock.com – All good selections. Did you happen to see the new Blade Runner 2049 from 2017?
Andy Wickett – I did, I didn’t think it was as good as the first film. It was a little bit boring. It was good, it had a good atmosphere and a good film, but you can’t beat the first one. I am sorry. It didn’t live up to its predecessor.
CrypticRock.com – It is hard to live up to original films. Films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange (1971) had interesting underlining social messages.
Andy Wickett – Yea, they were great. They were very deep. Did you catch the new Star Trek series? I thought the new TV series is good, it’s different. It’s a bit more controversial than the films, they are all very moralistic, this is quite a lot darker. It’s good, check it out.