Human League's aim is to be
the best live band in the world, Phil Oakey tells Charley Dunlap on the
eve of the band's show at the Colston Hall, Bristol
The Human League, playing Colston Hall Monday
night, began in 1977 and has traversed a very rocky road, notable for the
massive success of their Dare album and great gaps of silence between
several subsequent hits. From the beginning, singer Phil Oakey has been
the central figure in a band known for its electronic instrumentation, not
the only contradiction, but despite years of turmoil, bad advice and
lineup changes, he is positive, perceptive and unassuming.
"The band now is myself with Joanne and Susanne,
who have been in since 1980," he says. "We've got a programmer guy who
also works in our studio, a keyboard player who we've had since 1986, a
keyboardist-guitar player named Nick, then a couple of years ago Roger
came in on drums.
"We had a change of attitude in about 95 and got a
lot more businesslike. Before that, we were very punk - we hated the
record label, we hated being popular, we hated rehearsing . . . we hadn't
yet worked out that those people out there are the ones actually paying
and you've got to do your best for them.
"We don't have a new record. We had a failed album
in 2001 that was the first one we'd had that didn't have hits on it, so we
just sat back and thought 'well, what are we gonna do?'
aim is to be the best live band in the world. I doubt if we'll make it - I
doubt if anyone would notice if we did because we've not got two guitars
and a bass. People will go 'Oh, it's just that pop group.' But our aim is
to be a great, great live group.