I’ve never forgotten the image of the wave washing over the audience.It makes me wonder: how did video change the way we perceive music?And rock guitar and funk guitar gave us so many colors in the palate.
RHODES: There’s one song in the album called “Danceophobia” which had more iterations than any other song we’ve done as a band in our career.
Literally, there must be 6 or 7 different versions and then, there’s loads and loads and loads of variations with every one of those.
There’s tempo changes, there’s about ten different verses, there’s all these things. We completely changed the verse again, pulled apart the rhythm, we did some of the guitars that were on there and it just fell into place.
The only reason it survived — because normally things, after about half a dozen to a dozen changes, are left in a pile on the floor in a scrap heap — is that we felt the chorus was so strong for what it was, and nobody was prepared to let go of it. Now, it’s not necessarily my favorite track on the album, but it was such a challenge to actually get it right. With other songs, they’re written and recorded pretty much in a day and probably another day or two just changing some melodies or some sounds.
Strong melody has always been incredibly important, and Simon’s voice is naturally very melodic. I like electronic pulses and synthesizers, I like soundscapes, so that was a big part of what I bring to it.
And John and Roger are able to play many different styles — funk, disco, rock, punk — whatever it is we require, but they’re a very, very tight polished rhythm section.And we listen to a vast catalogue of the old music.Between the four of us, we’ve got pretty enormous musical knowledge at this point, because we’re all big fans. So I suppose with the sounds on “Change the Skyline,” they’re not typical.Because if you have a chemistry together that works well for songwriting, then you always get something very different as a band than you would get writing as a solo artist.There’s a different kind of tension in music that’s pulling in different directions written by several people.RHODES: It obviously brought another dimension to music, and there were artists of our generation who embraced it because it was exciting and new. There were older artists who were a little more hesitant, really, to get involved. If you have a great video, it’s fun to watch, but how many times do you want to watch it?I think they felt it had perhaps turned the seriousness of some of their songwriting and musicianship into showbiz, which wasn’t as appealing to them. Whereas with a song, you can still listen for many, many, many years later, if it’s a great song.MW: RHODES: Well, I have to confess: I love being in the studio. I don’t think any musician particularly enjoys all of the travel and the tiredness, but when you’re over that bit and you’re just playing the shows, it’s very uplifting.And, since we’ve been playing now for more than three decades, you learn what works and how to put together a real experience for people, because what we do is try to create a show that we’d like to see from somebody else.You’ve got to take people on a journey, and we’ve got a lot of music now to choose from, so balancing the set between things we wouldn’t get out of the building if we didn’t play to interesting new songs and a few surprises, that in itself is quite an art.MW: I bring up “The Reflex” because my first exposure to the song was through MTV, back in the days it was a music channel.