October 2012

 

This months interview isn't technically about The Human League, but Gold Legions recent re-release of Philip Oakeys collaboration with Giorgio Mororder was a good opportunity to put the spotlight on this undervalued album from 1985. So I caught up with Arthur Barrow who played a key part in the making of the album to learn more. It was a long time ago, so details were naturally blurry, but Arthur still came up with some interesting bits and pieces.

Interview by Niels Kolling,

Itís been really interesting reading your bio on your webpage as you done so many different things from playing with Frank Zappa, being in a jazz group to exploring the early days of the synthesizer. But how did you hook up with Giorgio Moroder?

 

I heard that he was looking for a keyboard player/programmer. I got an audition with him, he liked what I did and put me to work right away. He was just starting his '80's comeback with "What a Feeling." (Irene Cara)

 

 

What was your knowledge of Philip Oakey and The Human League before the project began?


I knew of The Human League, of course, but I only really had heard "Don't You Want Me."


The album was famously done very quickly in about a week, but did you prepare anything in advance?
 

It probably spanned a bit more than a week. We started on it in Los Angeles, and spent about a week in Europe on it, too, just doing the tracks. Nothing in advance of that.

 

How did Giorgio, Philip and yourself divide the tasks of recording the album between you?
 

Giorgio Moroder wrote the basic music, I played synth and bass and programmed stuff, Philip Oakey did the vocals.

 

I worked alone with an engineer for the most part. Philip Oakey was not present - in fact, I don't recall ever even meeting him! I was not around when the vocals and mixing occurred.

What kind of gear and instruments did you use back in 1985 to record the album?

 

The usual synths I used back then: Linndrum, Jupiter 8, Serge Modular, Emulator and maybe there is a ppg wave synth in a few places on the album. Fender Jazz Bass, fretless bass.

 

I know itís a long time ago so details may be blurry, but any thoughts or memories of the actual recording the album?

 

Too blurry - but the main thing I was impressed with was Giorgio Mororder's decision to segue all the tracks together. That was fun.

 

Any track from the album where you were particuarly satisfied with the end result?
 

I would say NOW - I had to go listen again (Vinyl!).

 

 


Together In Electric Dreams has been a constant part of The Human
 

Leagues live set ever since it was released, and at some point they also included Good-Bye Bad Times. That must tell you that Oakey still value your work?

 

I guess so - that is nice to hear!

 

Philip Oakey is famed for collection old synths, do you have any favourite synth or other equipment yourself?
 

The ones I named before, my EML 101 (picture), my Oberheim Xpander and my Roland JD 800.
 


The Human League are still going strong, releasing music and touring the world. Do you have any favourite Human League album, single or song?

 

I don't know enough of their music to say - sorry.

The band has some very loyal and dedicated fans that try to get to as many shows as possible on a tour. Have you had the same passion for a particular band? You know, following them around the country, sleeping on train stations as you wait for the first train home?

 

For me it was Zappa!
 

Youíve got one hell of a CV, but if I was allowed to pick out one artist, how was it working with Nina Hagen?
 

Pretty wild - one of the first things I did when I got in with the Giorgio Moroder crew - she would talk about the space ships she saw on the way into the studio!

Youíve also released 4 solo albums, can you tell a bit about what you want to achieve under your own name and if we can expect more?

 

Thanks for asking - Time will tell...

The technology has evolved at an unbelievable rate in the music business. How is it working in a studio today, compared to when you started out?

 

Great in a lot of ways, but that stuff with the old analog synths was a lot more fun! Triggering and gating, playing most of the parts by hand, etc.

 

You seem like a very busy man, so what are the future plans for Arthur Barrow?

I play in a band with Robby Krieger, and we do some gigs and record, (our CD, SINGULARITY, was nominated for a Grammy), otherwise keeping the studio going with various kinds of music.

 

 

Check out the below link to learn more about Arthur Barrows career and future projects;

 

http://home.netcom.com/~bigear/cds4sale.html

 

And you can buy the re-released CD edition of the Oakey & Moroder album here.