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Music

Alphaville head back to the stage and the charts

Eighties music is a genre in its own right, says the new wave singer Marian Gold, and "success is the coolest thing there is." Gold sat down with DW to talk about his band's latest release.

Alphaville singer Marian Gold

Singer Marian Gold is taking the music industry crisis in stride

Best known for hits like "Forever Young" and "Big in Japan," German synth pop band Alphaville were huge in the mid-80's. And their new wave hits are still making waves. In 2010, US superstar rapper Jay-Z and British R&B artist Mr Hudson released a version of "Forever Young" which scaled the Top Ten in the US and the UK.

Alphaville's latest record, released at the end of 2010, echoes the group's earlier efforts. The band is set to tour in Germany in spring 2011. Lead singer Marian Gold spoke with Deutsche Welle about 80's revival trends and his love of the English language.

DW: Can your latest disc, "Catching Rays on Giant," be called your comeback album?

Marian Gold: We've been asked that question after every album release because we always take such a long time to put together a new record. But in this case it's a valid question. Our last release was seven years ago. That's a very long time in the music business.

The rehearsals and much of production took place in London, and generally your music has always suggested a special bond to England. Why?

The members of Alphaville

To date, Alphaville has sold more than 6 million albums worldwide

I'm an Anglophile. I love British culture and I love the English language. I feel at home in it, even though it's not my native tongue. There's so much that you can express so much cooler than in say French, Italian or German. Those are great languages too, but I think English is the most fascinating. Just think of how Richard Burton sounded in all those films or when reciting Shakespeare. You can't do that in any other language.

Alphaville released its first record in 1984. How has the music business changed since then?

Not at all. The record industry has simply grown a bit nervous. The name says it all; records don't really exist anymore, so neither can the industry. I think it’s rather perverse, anyway, to call the music sector an "industry." We don't talk about a fine arts industry or a paintings industry. But we say that about music, so it’s a bit imposing.


Such an industry is cyclical, and crises come and go. So it was completely foreseeable that at some point the record industry would experience a crisis, caused of course by the Internet. Now there are practically only virtual records. But that's perfectly normal. The fundamental principles haven't changed at all.

What's your take on 80's revivals? Do you feel proud when bands tip their hats to you?

Of course it gives you a sense of pride when people make reference to you. But all these 80's trends have been around since….the late 80's! I always get asked if I ever thought the 80's would make such an impact, but I've been hearing that every time we release a record. I think it has to do with the fact that 80's music became a style much like reggae, hip hop or rock 'n' roll. New bands always emerge from that stream, like German act Wolfsheim in the 90's or English act Hurts nowadays - or underground bands who aren't yet well-known but will probably one day surface. It's a permanent current that has been continuing musically ever since the late 1980's.

Alphaville in concert in the 80's

For better or worse, the 80's are here to stay, says Gold

How has life on the road changed for Alphaville since the band's early days?

It has changed tremendously. We didn't go on tour in the 80's because we couldn't play. The Alphaville live band came into existence around 1993 or so. The band has existed in that line-up ever since. But it has changed again because when we started I was something like 15 years younger. We performed and then we'd party and go clubbing. I'd return to the hotel room at 4 or 5 in the morning and do the next gig that night.

I can't do that anymore. The tour would be over after two nights. I just don't have that stamina anymore. So everything has changed. Now when we go on tour, I live like a monk.

Interview: Marc Mühlenbrock / daf
Editor: Greg Wiser

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