The eighties are back in such a huge way right now that it's not at all surprising to see so many acts hitting the stage again to play all of their classic hits. That said, it only makes sense that the Psychedelic Furs will be stopping at Montclair's historic Wellmont Theater on Saturday, October 7th as one of the stops of their 2017 North American "The Singles Tour." Best known for the song "Pretty in Pink", which was used in classic hit Hollywood film of the same name, the Furs was formed back in the late 70's by Richard (lead vocals) and Tim (Bass) Butler. The brothers fell in love with the music of the UK rock scene and decided to start a band that would feature their own unique sound. Success came pretty quickly as songs like "Love My Way" and "The Ghost In You" found themselves climbing Billboard's Hot 100 chart.
I had an opportunity to speak with Tim Butler recently and he was more than happy to reflect on the Furs legacy while teasing a little about their future plans.
Q: Tim, thanks so much for a few minutes of your time. I know that you and the rest of the band have been on "The Singles Tour" since March. How has it been for you this time out on the road?
We have been all over the place it seems- South America, Europe, England and now the United States. We still really enjoy getting out there and playing. Especially when we get on stage and hear people singing our songs. There's no greater thing than to hear an audience sing back to you the songs that you wrote, maybe forty years ago! It makes us feel like maybe we've done something that is a lasting contribution to pop music.
Q: I know that the re-release of "Pretty In Pink" in 1986 was a pivotal moment for the band, but Psychedelic Furs had already made a mark on music, especially in the U.K. right?
Yes, we were already hitting the charts before the re-release of "Pretty In Pink". "Love My Way" was top fifty and "Ghost In You" was a top forty hit. I think the remake might have been a bit of a blessing and a curse. It got us a larger audience but it was primarily screaming teenage girls who tend to be very fickle. One minute they like you and the next minute they're on to something else. They're not really a bedrock audience and I think when the "Pretty In Pink" remake came out a lot of our solid audience that had been with us for years thought that we had sold out. So it really was like a blessing and a curse for us.
Q: Forty years is such a long time to spend in any career, let alone music. What is one of the biggest highlights that still stands out in your mind, to this day?
I guess the greatest thing that happened to us was when we first heard "Love My Way" on the radio and then the video was in heavy rotation on MTV. When you start up a band you never expect those things. You just want to have fun with your friends, maybe have a few beers. You never ever think that you're going to make a mega-hit record- let alone a living that has lasted for forty years.
Q: What do you think that the key to your longevity has been?
I think that we write great songs and the albums of ours from the 80's could be released now and still stand right up there next to modern-day alternative music. I think that the production and the songwriting isn't dated. A lot of bands nowadays admit to being influenced by 80's bands and the Furs specifically. It points back to the fact that the music must have been memorable for another band to want to replicate it. Whether it's the guitar sound, lyrically or whatever it just shows that the music has a staying power to it.
Q: What bands influenced you and who has had that kind of staying power for you personally?
Growing up, Rich and I would listen to The Stooges, Roxy Music and of course, early David Bowie. What really got us motivated to start a band was when we went to see The Sex Pistols in London in 1976. They looked really cool and had so much aggression and attitude, which we felt was really cool.I think we took those two components and then added the kind of songwriting that Roxy Music had and put those together to come up with our own style.
Q: So you did it. You came up with your unique style and now four decades later you're still on the road, this time with "The Singles Tour". How is it different for you now as opposed to even twenty years ago?
We can tour without internal fights (laughing). It used to be fighting and drinking but as you get older you come to accept your position in a band. What you do is just as important as anyone else so you sort of go out on stage more unified I think. You come to accept who you are and just the way that you are as you get older. In a band situation that's really important. If you're on a tour bus with six people for however many months and you have problems with your ego it causes arguments. Now we just go out there and do the best show that we can and we really appreciate the position that we're in. We get to play music in front of an audience that has been with us as many as forty years and that makes us so happy. We're content. There's no pressure to write a song that's going to be at the top of the charts or to keep our names in the papers. We already did that and it's what caused us to take a break from being the Psychedelic Furs for twelve years. I think we've already added our bit of input to the history and progression of alternative music and so we're happy.
Q: What should people expect from the Psychedelic Furs at a show now?
I want them to enjoy the music and the lyrics. I think that Rich's lyrics make you think and you can interpret each song as you want to and make it really personal. I want them to have a good time and to know that we'll be back next year, hopefully with our new album. We're doing everything ourselves and we're taking our time to make sure that this album stands up there with the rest of our back catalog of albums. Musically, we're always influenced by what we hear around us. You can't listen to music and play music without being subtly changed by it. Anything we do will, of course, sound like the Psychedelic Furs, but it'll be an updated version.
Q: Those fans, the ones that remember watching "Love My Way" when it was on MTV in heavy rotation- what would you like to say to them?
We are so grateful that they're still there for us. It's our greatest pleasure to go out and entertain them. Thank you for that honor.
You can see the Psychedelic Furs live on October 7 at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ. Tickets are still available right here.
You can also catch Psychedelic Furs live on their "The Singles Tour" at various dates across the country - here's updated tour dates and ticket info. Check out their official site here and be sure to follow Psychedelic Furs on Twitter.