“SUCCESSION, The Handmaid’s Story, The Kominsky Methodology, Name My Agent, writing the brand new Comfortable Cell album . . . ”
Marc Almond is itemizing what bought him by way of lockdown and the way he and Dave Ball wrote the band’s first new album since 2002’s Cruelty With out Magnificence.
Almond provides: “The one factor I used to be grateful to lockdown for was having the ability to make this document. I began writing it as a result of everybody was locked in.
6Marc Almond and Dave Ball are again with Happiness Not Included their first new album as Comfortable Cell for 20 yearsCredit: IMAGE ANDREW WHITTON6The duo are again after final waving goodbye in 2018 with a gig at London’s O2 Enviornment in entrance of 16,000 fansCredit: IMAGE ANDREW WHITTON6Soft Cell as most will keep in mind them within the 80s, after they produced enduring classics reminiscent of Say Good day, Wave GoodbyeCredit: Redferns“I’d have gone mad if it wasn’t for this album as a result of I like working on a regular basis.”
I meet the singer in a central London resort and, over cups of espresso and biscuits, he tells me the story behind Happiness Not Included, the sixth album from Comfortable Cell — the band he final waved goodbye to in 2018.
It was September of that 12 months when Comfortable Cell reunited for a farewell gig at London’s O2 Enviornment with a 30-song setlist. It was a date that additionally marked 40 years to the day the duo met.
“It was a particular evening,” Almond says. “And as I got here away from it, there wasn’t the intention to do any extra.
‘Considered one of my best moments in profession’
“It was 17 years since we’d executed our final gig and it was a pleasant solution to mark our fortieth anniversary.
“Some therapeutic wanted to be executed between me and Dave as a result of the final time we met, I’d simply had my accident and it was bizarre and unusual.”
The 2 had beforehand reunited in 2002 for album Cruelty With out Magnificence. However in 2004, Almond was in a motorcycle crash that just about killed him and left him with large head accidents and post-traumatic stress dysfunction.
He says: “I picked the O2 and stated that individuals may come if I’m actually fortunate and we’ll break even — or no person will come and we’ll by no means do it once more.
“It ended up being a extremely particular evening. Seeing 16,000 folks lighting up their telephones singing alongside to Say Good day, Wave Goodbye was one of many best moments of my profession.
“It gave us an excellent sense of how Comfortable Cell’s following has remained. And I assumed, ‘Effectively, that’s it now executed — we’re dusted’.”
Almond had no plans to reprise the duo. When he signed a brand new cope with document label BMG he was requested a couple of new Comfortable Cell album however declined.
Comfortable Cell opened doorways for all the children alone of their bed room with their emotions however I by no means noticed us as an enormous band
He explains: “Comfortable Cell had been nice and had been influential and opened doorways for the children that had been alone of their bed room with their very own ideas and emotions.
“However I by no means considered us as an enormous band. I’ve to be in a sure headspace to put in writing Comfortable Cell songs.
“Once I write for myself, it’s extra introspective and private feelings. However once I write for Comfortable Cell, I’m extra the cynic wanting on the world with sardonic humour, issues which might be occurring in a really totally different means.
“And I didn’t know if I may do it, to be sincere, so I assumed I’d see what Dave despatched me.
“Then he despatched me some actually nice music, so I stated, ‘Yeah, all proper’.”
Ball shouldn’t be obtainable for an interview — “He’s fractured his backbone and is recovering,” explains Almond.
“He’s been in hospital and had some well being issues. Issues like this and the pandemic have made us realise how brief life is.
“As an artist, whenever you become old, you look again and re-evaluate life extra. With out sounding gloomy, I’m wondering what number of lively years I’ve left in my life, as I’m 65 this 12 months.”
Within the first lockdown, Almond was unwell with Covid and has been affected by lengthy Covid since.
“I get days the place I can’t breathe so effectively and I really feel this horrible fatigue that simply hits you,” he says.
“I’ve had Covid 3 times now. The final time was a couple of weeks in the past. I attempted to maintain a reference to my followers and carried out songs on Instagram however once I appeared again at them, they had been so terrible to look at that I deleted them.
“Writing the album, I didn’t wish to write in regards to the virus.
“As a result of when that is throughout, folks don’t wish to hear about coronavirus. However nonetheless, there was this environment that influences what you’re writing.
‘We thought future was what we noticed in sci-fi’
“There was a sense of being alone and it was a reflective interval, about nostalgia and re-evaluating. I discovered myself taking part in my previous information I grew up with, because it creates a temper and a reminiscence that’s comforting.”
Tune Polaroid relies on the duo assembly Andy Warhol on his TV present and Almond says the thought got here after he was wanting by way of previous pictures.
He provides: “I got here throughout certainly one of Dave and I assembly Andy Warhol. I’d learn the guide Holy Terror by Bob Colacello, which is about Andy and is unbelievable.
“So I began penning this track about going to satisfy Andy Warhol and what it actually was like and what I imagined it may’ve been like, what it was like in my head.”
Pleased Pleased Pleased is one other standout on the album, which is in regards to the view Almond had of the longer term when he was youthful.
He provides: “We thought the longer term was what we noticed in sci-fi movies and sci-fi books and it painted this image, watching issues like Tomorrow’s World, Omega Man, Logan’s Run and Soylent Inexperienced.
“So it was fairly a darkish outlook. Dave and I wanted a working title and we had been wanting again on this view of the longer term from the previous, so we referred to as the album Future Nostalgia, as a result of that’s an excellent title.
“After which — lo and behold — Dua Lipa’s new album Future Nostalgia was introduced! My coronary heart immediately sunk, because it was an ideal title for us.”
As a substitute, the pair selected Happiness Not Included. The quilt options an deserted fairground in Pripyat, a ghost metropolis in northern Ukraine close to the positioning of the Chernobyl catastrophe.
There may be additionally a observe on the album referred to as Coronary heart Like Chernobyl. Almond says: “It’s a track that’s not actually about Chernobyl. It’s a couple of wasteland panorama that your coronary heart turns into, although I’d been watching the TV sequence Chernobyl on the time.
“The track is about how all of us grow to be desensitised to information as a result of we’re watching all these photos on the information on a regular basis. It’s one factor after one other.
“I feel the British folks have come below a barrage of assault over the previous few years — boat folks drowning, folks having to say goodbye on FaceTime in lockdown.
“It’s all been so horrible. You end up turning on the tv and it’s a part of your breakfast. It turns into normalised.”
Almond is devastated by the battle in Ukraine, having spent a whole lot of time in Russia — first touring the previous Soviet Union within the early Nineties. His 2003 solo album Coronary heart On Snow was an ode to his love affair with the nation.
‘Love the Queen’
He says: “It’s been simply heartbreakingly devastating, to be fairly sincere. Simply surprising.
“I’m nonetheless in contact with associates there who’re in a state of trauma and really feel the harm from that is going to go on for ever. They worry they’re by no means going be capable of go away the nation once more.
“Folks should realise that a whole lot of Russian persons are caught up on this as effectively.”
Different highlights on the album embrace the dramatic Bruises On All My Illusions.
Almond says: “It’s wanting on the hopes and goals we had that aren’t going to come back to fruition. It’s how goals don’t all the time occur however the way it provides us the power to sort of stick with it.”
Working with Pet Store Boys on the synth-pop collaboration Purple Zone for the album was a particular second for Almond.
“I felt very emotional once I first heard it,” he says. “It occurred because of David Walliams, actually. He took me, Chris and Neil (Lowe and Tennant of Pet Store Boys) out for dinner to speak, which was the primary time I’d ever had an opportunity to sit down down and correctly chat to them.
“We bought on rather well and I had this observe and I assumed I may ask the Pet Store Boys to provide it. However I chickened out, as I hate rejection.
“Then I used to be on vacation in Thailand with my supervisor and we had been sat listening to it on the seaside and there was a purpley sundown. Then in comes Neil’s voice. He had sung on it and I didn’t know.
I really like the UK and the Queen however in the mean time I must get away from all of it
“I assumed it was so wonderful. The Pet Store Boys gave us a present with this collaboration.”
Almond spent a month in Thailand and is now within the strategy of shifting to Portugal.
He says: “I really like the UK and I really like the Queen — all of the historical past of Britain. I’m a historical past lover however in the mean time I really feel a bit out of affection and I must get away for some time.
Not too long ago we’ve seen there’s one rule for one group of individuals and one for elitism and entitlement. Once I was in Thailand, I used to be nonetheless switching the information on.
I get anxiousness and panic assaults about all the pieces that’s occurring, so I really feel I must be on the skin wanting in, versus being proper in the course of it.
“Then, once I’ve cleared my head, I can then come again.”
‘Hold it open’
Almond has additionally been coping with anxiousness in his stay reveals. “I’ve misplaced my confidence a bit and I typically get stage fright,” he says.
“It’s because the accident. You by no means fairly recover from it and that’s why I try to assist others in my function as patron of this charity referred to as Headway that helps folks with head accidents.”
Final 12 months Comfortable Cell had been again performing, taking part in the entire of their 1981 debut album Non-Cease Erotic Cabaret. Almond says: “It was the fortieth 12 months of Tainted Love and Non-Cease Erotic Cabaret and it was nice to get again on stage once more. I really like doing stay reveals and being on stage with Dave.
“It was nice to do the entire of Non-Cease with some songs from the brand new album.”
Will there be one other Comfortable Cell tour?
“There gained’t be limitless excursions and information however I all the time say, ‘Hold it open’. If the best state of affairs occurs, we’ll do one thing else.
“The identical with my solo work. If folks wish to see it, then I’m not going to cease it.
“I feel the pandemic gave all people a brand new appreciation of life and I simply wish to stick with it doing one thing I get pleasure from.”
Happiness Not Included is out now.
6Soft Cell have collaborated with fellow 80s icons Pet Store Boys for brand spanking new single Purple ZoneCredit: David Lopez-Edwards6Marc has not dominated out a brand new tour for Comfortable CellCredit: GettySOFT CELL
Happiness Not Included
6Soft Cell’s Happiness Not Included is out now1. Pleased Pleased Pleased
3. Bruises On My Illusions
4. Purple Zone
5. Coronary heart Like Chernobyl
6. Gentle Sleepers
7. Happiness Not Included
8. Nostalgia Machine
10. I’m Not A Pal Of God
12. New Eden