July 12, 2018 Interview – Cy Curnin of The Fixx
Through the decades, bands have come and gone, many fizzling out as rapidly as they began. Then there are those whose legacy is strong, filled with success, and, nearly four decades since it all began, continue to pen their story. Coming out of London, England, The Fixx would be the latter of the bunch, both as a band who has sustained their success as well as integrity along the way. Known for their mix of atmospheric guitars, mesmerizing synthesizers, and powerful vocals, The Fixx continue to stand tall.
Looking back on singles such at 1982’s “Red Skies” and “Stand or Fall,” as well as 1983’s “One Thing Leads to Another” and “Saved by Zero,” it is easy to see they have never repeat themselves, all while still producing hit tunes. Now, all these years later, The Fixx remain heavily engaged musically as they actively tour the USA on their Beach Tour in celebration of the 35th anniversary of their 1983 album Reach the Beach. Energized for whatever comes next, Lead Singer and talented Songwriter Cy Curnin took the time to talk about the longevity of The Fixx, fond memories of Reach the Beach, plans for new music, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – The Fixx have a rich history that dates back nearly 4 decades now. Achieving a great deal of success during the 1980s with a list of highly-charted singles, the band continues to write their story all these years later. Looking back, briefly tell us, what has the journey been like for you?
Cy Curnin – It has been full of surprises and an extreme pleasure to play with the same guys all these years. You don’t really know the future, but the other day I saw a really great quote that said, “If you want to predict the future, create it.” I guess it rang true with me because, well, we have created our own future. At the back of mine, if I was to have predicted something, it would have been more a wish or dream, and that would have been to have done what we have done. Extremely surprising, but happy.
CrypticRock.com – It has been a great career for you and the band. One thing has always stood out about The Fixx is no two songs are the same. Has it always been important for you and the band to keep the sound fresh and diverse?
Cy Curnin – Yes, I think the rule we always had was there’s no rules. If a song or an idea for a song comes along and it arrests our attention, we go for it. We don’t try and mold in with the fashion of our last song or the fashion of the day, we just go with where the song takes us. These things come along out of the unknown and just present themselves; as long as they are good, they get a shot. That’s why our albums end up being quite eclectic, I think.
CrypticRock.com – And that translates to the commercial success. If you look at the songs you have attained success with, they are all different. You have been very fortunate and good at making songs that are successful and different.
Cy Curnin –Again, I think it’s just a sort of connection. If the music hooks people’s ears in, and the lyrics don’t insult people’s intelligence too much, you’ve got a shot. That’s kind of the only level we’ve tried to always be at. My dad used to say, “Never underestimate people’s intelligence.” That stuck with me and when I imagine the person out there who is hearing the songs, I am hearing them on a level of connection that’s strong, not just downgrading the conversation.
CrypticRock.com – That is a good outlook.
Cy Curnin – You can always scratch the bottom, but in the end, what keeps you going is the oxygen above it all.
CrypticRock.com – True and you should never underestimate people, like you said. You can always learn something from others, as well.
Cy Curnin – Exactly, that’s the way it comes. If you keep an open heart and mind, the journey’s interesting at that point.
CrypticRock..com – Speaking of the band’s journey, the 1983 record Reach the Beach recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. The band’s most commercially-successful album, what was that time like when the album was breaking big?
Cy Curnin – I would say in one word, surprises. We sort of ventured forward, it was our second album. We had limited alternative success with Shuttered Room (1982). We were kind of expecting some of the same thing. We knew Reach the Beach was a very different album to Shuttered Room, because we naturally deviated course. We came back and found radio over the in U.S. was really ready to hear the next songs from us, so they swallowed up “Saved by Zero,” the first single from Reach the Beach. The album went platinum in about 6 weeks, I was bowled over. It felt very different: we were selling in bigger numbers, we were playing in front of huge crowds. At first we were opening up for A Flock of Seagulls, then opening up for The Police, and by the end of the year we were doing our own shows to tens of thousands of people. It was a huge rush! Not to say any of us expected it to happen, but when it did, we said, “We better enjoy this, because we don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
CrypticRock.com – Wow, those are some amazing memories to have. It certainly lifted the band to new levels of success. The band has continued to tour the world in celebration of Reach the Beach, and you are presently out on a North American tour that finds you playing venues coast to coast. How is this tour going?
Cy Curnin – I think the fun, for me, is the attitude we are taking is, we’ve survived, the music has survived, and we want to check out our audience. A lot of audiences have been posting the fact that they can’t believe 35 years have gone by. A lot of them have families, those families have grown up, some of them are even grandparents. I think there is a certain amount of wisdom in our sound now, they have been through all the cycles of politics, various new things. It was a pen and paper generation, now we are all on our smartphones. Now we are living in the age of fake news and easy credit, or I should say easy debt.
I think we have a lot to celebrate and look back on. Take a sort of physiologic breather, calm ourselves, and realize these cycles do go around and ’round. In time, all things pass, all things change. I am looking to add a little statement that allows people to come together, rather than be singing to a divided room – some right, some left, some completely turned off. I’d like speak to everybody and take us back to a time when we were young and innocent, and we still are in lots of ways.
CrypticRock.com – That is a good thing. It is important, because we are living in such divisive times where everyone is at one another’s throats. It is nice to have those unifying qualities through music; that is what music was always about.
Cy Curnin – Exactly, that’s what we are trying to do: to remind people that music does heal all, don’t judge. It’s become too easy to bitch and moan. The art of a good argument is learning how to listen and respect the other side of the argument before you jump in. I think these days it’s all too easy to send off a Tweet or a post without really thinking about what you’re saying.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed completely! And those type of behaviors are what get us in trouble. Not everyone is supposed to know what we are thinking every moment of the day.
Cy Curnin – Yes, exactly. The tone of your voice adds sentiment or the meaning. Quite often you can say something in irony or a sense of humor. You don’t hear that when you are just reading the words; it all depends on the mood you’re in when you are reading it, not the mood of the person sending. Dangerous.
CrypticRock.com – It is very dangerous. The tour is in full swing now. How is it going thus far?
Cy Curnin – It’s all looking good. Experience says if we measure twice and cut once, we should be off to a good start. It just getting all the little kinks out. We are using some back projections that are synced to our performance, so we have to make sure the arrangements don’t veer off too much. It is slightly different for us, because we sometimes get into the rhythm of improvising a lot. In order to do the Reach the Beach album, as the album was itself, we figured we’d play it exactly as that in the tight arrangements of the album. We are just making sure we have got all that lined up.
CrypticRock.com – It will great to see it as the tour moves along and visits cities across the country, including New York City. You mentioned being fortunate enough to play with the same people together. Keeping the lineup together, what do you think has been the key to the chemistry of The Fixx?
Cy Curnin – We’re all interested in what we do. We have enough space to feel creative for our own commitment and contribution to the project. There is also just deep love: we are similar-minded people, we know how to argue with grace and respect. We don’t take ourselves too serious but love what we do, and understand there is a responsibility to be good at it.
CrypticRock.com – Sounds like a good balance. Isn’t balance the key to everything?
Cy Curnin – Balance is the key to everything, you are exactly right.
CrypticRock.ocm – It was back in 2012 The Fixx released their 10th overall studio album, Beautiful Friction. An energetic and thoughtful album, have there been any talks of any new music in the future?
Cy Curnin – Yeah, there has! We have been very busy: we have about 25-26 new songs recorded and mixed. We are deciding the best way to move forward from this point, put it out as an album or two. One of the recording projects was that we each took songs we remembered from other artists from the past and do our own interpretations of them. We have that as a collection of songs, and then we have a whole new original collection of songs too. I think we just wanted to get this Reach the Beach celebration done and dusted, then we would move on to the next project.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent! That will be exciting, new music is always wonderful to hear.
Cy Curnin – Yup, it is! It’s always great for us to have it out too. We spend so long nurturing it, it’s nice to get some reaction from the outside.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. Making an album is a lot different than it used to be. That in mind, a lot of people are not buying records anymore. Yes, the fans buy the albums, and you make the music for the fans. How do you approach it at this point in your career? Obviously you do it for the love it.
Cy Curnin – Yes, you do it for the love. You don’t skimp on technique; make sure it’s recorded as well as it possibly can be. That’s one the biggest changes. Since record sales are down, as you rightly say, you can record things a lot cheaper too. We used to spend a lot of money on recording studios and it was kind of felt okay, because you knew you were going to sell records. Now you are rolling the dice of how many you will actually sell. The key is to keep a close eye on the costs and get some great results. We have been quite creative: we have a small studio in England called Space House that is big enough to play as a unit and record live. We also have a lot of technical toys that we can manipulate and use to produce sounds that are top quality.
CrypticRock.com – Since you have a lot of material in-the-works, can you give us an idea of what direction it is going at this point?
Cy Curnin – It’s pretty energetic, quite punchy. A sign of the times: trying to shake people up a little bit, not just fall asleep in apathy or anger. I think it speaks to the higher spirits in people, trying to lead people to the higher ground.
CrypticRock.com – That is good. Again, we could use some of that uplifting energy right now. You have also done some solo work. Is that something you are working on as well?
Cy Curnin – Sure, I have four albums. I have been working on a project with Facebook, they have a song collection called The Sound Collection; they have been allowing me to put new material for my fans and anyone in the world on a platform. There are 19 songs of mine available on there, so far. I think by the end there will be up to 100 songs on there. For me, as a solo artist, it’s really good to get some songs out in the wide world, then I can start to carve a live career of letting people hear the music, digest it, and then come see me perform it live.
The world’s changing, it’s a different platform. You used to need radio or a good interview such as this to get it out to people. Now some of the social platforms are turning a hand to it, which is good. I think a lot of them got caught of being publishers of fake news and I think they are trying to get away from that by putting original content out to the world, which is a better thing all around.
CrypticRock.com – That is a wonderful thing to be able to get your music out there. That is a positive use of social media, it can be used as a tool, not just a place for people to yell at one another. Last question. CrypticRock covers music as well as Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of either genre, do you have any favorites?
Cy Curnin – I am! I am a big fan of Philip K. Dick. I am amazed how some of the predictions in the stories he wrote back then have been used by Hollywood to put out some great movies, such as Minority Report (2002). I do like Science Fiction, because it’s a way of being creative and predictive without ever claiming to be factual. It’s amazing how, in the world of design and the world we live in, some of the things that are real today was spawned by Science Fiction back in the ’50s and ’60s. For example, Star Trek on their little phones, and now we are all on them. Who knows what will be coming down the pike? I am sure we will be buzzing into each other and doing interviews by hologram.
CrypticRock.com – It is true how, at some point, Science Fiction does turn into reality. What did you think of the adaptation of Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? into 1982’s Blade Runner?
Cy Curnin – That was the big one I was thinking of too. In the end, you can turn people, regardless of the fact that they are created by a machine, a machine can brainwash you to a point that you are almost like a robot; there is a duality there. Who knows? Once they start laser-printing humans without minds of their owns, we are all in trouble.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and as you said, start acting like computers – isn’t that the way we are headed right now? It is frightening how it seems we are becoming less human and giving in to social media hysteria without thinking.
Cy Curnin – Exactly. We haven’t even finished reading the headline and we are already making comments and reacting to it. Then, quite often, you read past the headline, and the story is completely the opposite from the headline. Then you have to backtrack to what you said and say, “What I really meant to say was this.” We get caught with our pants down all the time.
I think there needs to be some sort of a mental stop, process, react, and then, maybe if we wish to continue the conversation at the point, put out a word. But it’s too fast: there is no way you can process it all. Half of the time it’s just rubbish that gets into your mind, which creates anxiety; which stops you from really digesting it. The whole thought pattern of the human mind becomes distracted, alienated, divided, and the next thing you know, those who are really laughing are those around the big corporate tables guessing our every moves and planning accordingly.
CrypticRock.com – It is so true. How many Science Fiction stories have predicted this? It’s scary.
Cy Curnin – Yes, that’s Science Faction, baby!