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'THAT'S THE MAGIC' CHINA CRISIS TALK ABOUT THEIR LOVE OF PERFORMING AND WRITING THEIR SONGS



New Wave synth-pop group China Crisis (Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon) released ten top 50 singles (four of them reached the top 20) and three top 40 albums including Flaunt the Imperfection and Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two. We caught up with Gary and Eddie after their recent set at Rewind South.



PHOTOGROUPIE

Brian Eno was a big influence on your music, how did you come to be influenced by him?


GARY

Oh, well, we just found him on the back of Bowie's 'Low' album. I saw his name on the album and that was the first time. I'd listened to a lot of prog rock and I was very suited to keyboard. I wasn't into guitar bands as a teenager, so I was quite interested in that Bowie sound on that record. I thought "well, is that Eno?" So then I got Eno's album 'Before and After Science' and then listened to it and thought "of course, it's him"


That informed everything really because Ed and me had come off the back of punk and we would be New Wave. That was all the people who were writing songs for themselves and inventing sounds. They weren't all particularly great vocalists. And Eno was one of those people that was singing and it was very different from everybody else, really, because his lyrics didn't appear to make sense. So that was quite appealing. You didn't have to know what the story was. And the way he sang was, was obviously interesting to us. We copied him quite a bit.

PHOTOGROUPIE

One of your most well-known tracks is 'Black Man Ray' How did that come about?


GARY

Well, yeah, just the synthesizer and drum machine really. We didn't have lyrics. Ed and I wrote like many other people with little bits of music. You'd write a song format. Ed wouldn't sit there with a guitar and go "I've got this song". You'd record a piece of music, and then as we're living with it, listening to it, someone actually starts singing to it then the next thing you know, you've got a song.


EDDIE

I mean, we basically started off as instrumentists. So most of the things that we wrote at the beginning were 10-minute long pieces of music, then over time we started learning arrangements.


GARY

I have had the likes of Bowie say, people would turn up for Heroes, and there would no singers on the tracks. He wouldn't have anything, there were no songs, it was all bits of music and he would sing over it at the end.


PHOTOGROUPIE

So it was largely an improvisational approach you had then?


EDDIE

To a degree. Again, it's obviously not the same for everyone, but we come up with the harmony that we like - the harmony being the musical chords or whatever, then we get a melody over it. But it doesn't work the same for everyone. There are no rules.


PHOTOGROUPIE

You worked with Walter Becker too what was that like?


EDDIE

Amazing!


GARY

Well, he produced the songs. If you imagine that we're only 24 by the time we're working with him and we're onto our third album and we're still learning what a producer does. By the time we got to Walter we were a band and had Kevin and Gaz with us. So although we still had the same level demos with no singing over it and stuff, we did need somebody really just sort of to be in charge of it all and to make it the best we could make it. I suppose we were at that point where we'd had hit records and the record company, probably unbeknown to us, wanted to take it up a notch.


PHOTOGROUPIE

Did Becker have any influence over the songwriting?


EDDIE

We'd written the songs before we went into the studio, but he'd put a little jazzy influence with the horns or arrangements on them.


PHOTOGROUPIE

So what's next?


GARY

We've just finished a record of all our old masters being reworked. So that will be the China Greatness album. And we'll bring that out initially on vinyl and make it available online, and then it'll be eventually CD. But that'll be the next thing for us. But there's lots of playing; we're playing live an incredible amount. So you can imagine we're busy trying to keep that as fresh as we can. We have to learn all these different old songs.


EDDIE

Some of them we've never played live.


PHOTOGROUPIE

So do you have an old song that you like playing, or one that you really want to play live but haven't?


GARY

Well, The Working with Fire and Steel Tour will be great because we get to do songs like The Gates of Door to Door, Papua, Animals and Jungles, and all these little songs that we only ever get to play every so many years. And it's so fun.


I was saying to people recently at a gig when we played some of the old songs, it's a little bit like an old photograph of yourself. You do a song like that, it's a bit like you're 'in' that thing. I think all the artists want to do that. That's why McCartney, Dylan, The Stones, Springsteen, Neil Young, they're all still touring because that's the magic. The magic is, youse all feel it and us as artists feel it. That's the magic. It's amazing how a lot of the artists' voices don't change as soon as they start singing, even though they look like their dad.


Catch China Crisis on tour




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