A Night at the Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet stay "true" to their new wave roots

If you were born in the ‘80s or later, you weren’t really present when new wave was actually new. You probably stumbled across it accidentally, committing its songs to heart passively from hearing the same ones played repeatedly in media and on soundtracks to represent a certain period that, again, you just weren’t really there for the first time around. That time and those songs -- they’re iconic, as are the bands that represent that era. Spandau Ballet is one of them, and after breaking for more than 20 years, they made a massive comeback when they reunited in 2009. On July 30, that reunion comes to Humphrey’s by the Bay.

Before the new wavers staked their claim in new-romantic history with their 1983 hit single, “True” -- a.k.a., one of those iconic songs, and which you likely already knew before Steve Buscemi sang it when [spoiler alert? Is that possible for a film made in 1998?] Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler tied the knot at the end of “The Wedding Singer” -- they were making hits from release one. Their debut single, “To Cut a Long Story Short,” was their first of 10 singles to break it into the top 10 on UK charts, and by the time they called it quits in 1990, they had eight records do the same.

Flash forward 19 years to rumors of Spandau Ballet’s reunion. SoundDiego had the chance to interview drummer John Keeble by e-mail, and that’s where we started -- because how does a band, apart for so long, find the motivation to start again? Keeble answers that and more below.

Hannah Lott-Schwartz: There was a long period of silence from Spandau Ballet throughout the '90s and into the late 2000s. What prompted the reunion in 2009?
John Keeble: As quoted in our documentary, “Soul Boys of the Western World” [watch the trailer here], I wanted a better end. Three or four years of shuttle diplomacy was the hardest work I've ever done. When we got back in a rehearsal room in 2009, it was a wonderful reconnection. Musically, spiritually and most importantly friendship. We are stronger than ever now.

HLS: Last summer Spandau Ballet made headlines again with the announcement that you were back in the studio, but it’s been quiet since then. Do you have a release date yet? Can you give us a teaser of what that album is going to be like?
JK: We recorded three new songs with Trevor Horn, which are on the album “The Story.” Have a listen. We are very proud of the new material and look forward to more recording when we finish touring at the end of the year.

HLS: You’ve known your bandmates for so long. What’s the best part about getting back into the studio to make new music?
JK: Spandau is a fantastic collection of great musicians. We make a sound like no one else. We've been playing together since our teens and continue to grow. It's just a fabulous vibe.

HLS: There are some songs -- like “True” and “Gold” -- that your fans must want to hear at every show. How do you keep those types of songs fresh so that you can approach them with enthusiasm on stage year after year?
JK: Every night on stage is totally fresh as you look into the audience's eyes and see just how much these songs mean to people. It's a privilege and a great thrill to know that we have provided the soundtrack to their lives. We just love the synergy of live shows, and with a set that includes a song from 1978 and three tunes from last year, we have a huge body of work. Bring on the next show...

Spandau Ballet play Humphrey's by the Bay on Thursday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available here

Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.

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