www.ICBerkshire.co.uk 18th June 2003

A life of synth with the Human League

James Ferguson

The Human League, the band that helped define the sound of a decade, are odds on favourite to go down a storm at Ascot. James Ferguson talks to member Susanne Sulley.

 

The Human League was one of the bands whose sound shaped the 1980s.

 

Phil Oakey's infamous asymmetric haircut was an iconic emblem of the decade while the two stunning backing singers took up valuable space on many a teenage bedroom wall.

 

Phil spotted schoolgirls Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall dancing in Sheffield's Crazy Daisy nightclub and immediately whisked them off on a European tour.

 

Their classic electro pop sound is back in vogue and many new artists say the band has had an effect on them.

 

Susanne, speaking to the  Bracknell News this week, said because so much music now was awful people were bound to look back at the past.

 

She said: "This is what always happens. Music is a cyclical thing and it constantly regurgitates itself. I think also that because modern music is so rubbish people start looking back to see what they've missed out on.

 

"If all there is on offer is Gareth Gates and the Cheeky Girls - it's enough to make anyone a Morrissey fanatic."

 

Now many of the band's classic moments are being remixed and repackaged

for this century.

 

I asked Susanne what she thought of the new versions.

 

She said: "I haven't heard all of them but I don't mind as long as they do a good job. Sometimes all they seem to do is speed it up a bit and make the drums louder. I wonder why they bother. If you want to do a remix, do it properly and make it completely different from the original."

 

The band's latest new album Secrets, a critical favourite but commercial failure, came out in 2001, but Susanne doubts there will be any new material in the near future.

 

She said: "We were a bit disheartened when Secrets didn't do that well. It didn't help that the record company went bust the same day. I don't really know where we stand in today's market. We have become a bit of a nostalgia group now, but that's what the public want.

 

"If people enjoy hearing us play Don't You Want Me then we're happy to give them what they want."

 

A gig at Ascot Racecourse next month marks the start of a busy period for the band, who will be spending August on a 18 date tour of the US.

 

Susan said: "We haven't done much so far this year so we are really looking forward to getting out there and playing. I'm friends with the guitarist out of the Pretenders. They played Ascot last summer and he said it was brilliant so when the offer came up we jumped at it."

 

 

www.ICBerkshire.co.uk 26th June 2003

Don't you want me, baby?

Human League serenade Francis Batt to the tune of 23 years of pop, the North and true friendship.

Soap opera or pop stars often complain that their privacy is constantly being invaded by the press. But they will not get any sympathy from members of the legendary 1980s band Human League.

 

The Sheffield-based band swept the world with the hit Don't You Want Me? and is still going strong after 23 years.

 

Leading member Susanne Sulley thinks she knows why they are still together, why they still get on and why they were not harassed by newspapers even at the height of their fame.

 

She says: "We are all Sheffield people and we have all stayed here. Why not? Our family and friends are here, why move to London? I have no time for people who say their privacy is being invaded as they fall out of a high profile London night-spot where the paparazzi are guaranteed to hang out. No-one will bother you if you are happy to go to the local pub with your mates as we used to. We have fallen out of enough Sheffield night spots to no media interest whatsoever."

 

Susanne says that she and the other Human Leaguers have all kept the friends they made when they were young in Sheffield.

 

She says: "I would say I have only made three new friends since joining the band. You don't get the chance. You meet people briefly while doing a show

 then never see them again."

 

Susanne insists she never had any childhood dreams of becoming a rock star. She was set to go to university when she was invited to join Human League after lead singer Philip Oakey spotted her dancing at Sheffield's Craisy Daisy nightclub.

 

Susanne, fellow singer Joanne Catherall and Philip soon found themselves part of a band that was ranked with Soft Cell and Depeche Mode as the best three around. The amazing album Dare sealed their fame while the single Don't You Want Me topped the charts in Britain and the United States.

 

Susanne never did get to university. She says: "I had no idea what I wanted to do at 16 and going to university had only seemed like a good way of putting off making a decision. Going on tour with Human League was only supposed to fill in a few months.

 

"Then it all became a rollercoaster. When you are at the eye of a hurricane you don't really see it clearly through all the chaos. I honestly thought it would last two years at most. None of us imagined it would last 23. I believe though that we will all know when we really don't want to do it any more."

That time seems a long way off with the band's new album Secrets stirring renewed interest.