|For The Fans, By The Fans. Look Beyond The Mainstream. Since 2001.
Wang Chung's Nick Feldman discusses new album Tazer Up!, reflects on career and childhood
|Out Of The Blue
Publications Association, LLC
Wang Chung’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” and
“Dance Hall Days”—two defining songs from the 80s
that continue to echo through time. In 2005 it was the
call of fans that initiated the response of a new
Wang Chung album. A cover song performance of
Nelly’s “It’s Hot In Here” on the TV show Hit Me
Baby, One More Time and a 2009 tour inspired
Wang Chung to release a new full-length album for
the first time in two decades. Tazer Up! is the first of
two albums that Jack Hues (vocalist/guitarist) and
Nick Feldman (bassist) will release, the second
album will feature remixes and more new material
this spring. In this exclusive interview with Out Of
The Blue, Feldman spoke from London about the
new release, possible touring, the changing music
industry, his childhood and he reflects on Wang
Chung’s most unsure career moment.
What is Wang Chung’s reason for writing new
material and releasing Tazer Up! in 2012?
We’ve sort of been active again the last few years.
We took about 20 years off. This album was
recorded over a period of a few years actually.
We were both doing other things as well, Jack and I.
I was working as an A&R guy for Sony and I was
working on the British TV show The Voice and
Jack’s been doing some work with his jazz band.
We’ve both been doing different things, but with
sheer enjoyment and enthusiasm, we both decided
to do something new. And then we started to tour
again. We both felt we had enough vitality with what
we were doing with the new stuff as well as not
forgetting the old stuff.
What was it like going back into the studio? Did
you use some of the same instruments and
equipment you recorded with years ago?
We didn’t want to completely leave behind our
absolute heritage and the kind of sounds of the stuff
we used to use. That’s stuff we’re still proud of and
still write with. We wanted to mix contemporary
approaches with the traditional 80’s stuff as well.
But, hopefully we’ve managed to achieve a nice
balance between the two.
How did the writing process work for new tunes?
We work separately as well as together. We both do
stuff at our respective houses separately and then
we get together in the studio space. It varies, there’s
no kind of one thing that we do.
I noticed “Rent Free” has a hip-hop and R&B
feel to it whereas “London Orbital” is kind of
Depeche Mode sounding and “Stargazing”
reminds me of Genesis and Peter Gabriel.
Is it your intention to combine such sounds and
techniques to almost reintroduce New Wave?
It’s nice that you pick up on those influences. I think
Wang Chung has always been quite eclectic. Jack
and I both enjoy different types of music. We span a
large area of different styles of music. I think Wang
Chung is kind of like a laboratory. This album does
reflect those different influences that we have. I love
soul music and hip-hop and Jack’s really into Pink
Floyd and those kinds of things, and I love them as
well. We kind of crossover a lot with each other.
What we wanted was the whole album to hang
together as a unified coherent album with the palette
of sounds that we use coming together.
This album is part one of two. Will the next
album be with re-mastered songs and new takes
with classics in the form of remixes?
Yes, it will definitely have some of that. There will be
quite a bit of remixes and some playing around with
existing tracks. We’ve already had some interesting
stuff done. But, there will be some new songs as
well. It should be a pretty interesting album.
Looking back in your career, what was the
biggest struggle you faced with Wang Chung?
The worst moment probably preceeded the best
moment. The worst moment was probably after we
done our very, very first album under Huang Chung.
We recorded that in the UK for Arista Records. It
was a good record, but I think Arista expected it to be
very successful and it didn’t quite connect at the
time for a cult following. So, after the first record run
its course I think the record company started to
question whether or not to drop us. It felt like we
were about to be dropped and our adventure in the
music business was about to be over. And I was
going to have to find something, maybe become an
accountant or something like that. (laughs) And then
we recorded “Dance Hall Days” and the record
company was still not sure about us and wasn’t sure
if that was going to be a hit or not. It was at that point
that we brought a new manager [David Massey] in
and he managed to get us out of the Arista deal and
get us into America on Geffen Records. And straight
away we recorded our next album and then we had
subsequent success. But before that was a time we
felt like it was really all over for us. It was kind of like
“get out of jail.”
Returning as you are in the 2000s, what have you seen as the biggest music industry change since the 80s?
The big change of course is today you can upload your stuff on the internet and you can be available to the whole world. That’s a fantastic feeling
that you can make an album at home on the computer. It’s all sort of empowering. That is a massive step in a good direction, but because of that it’
s really hard to get anyone to barely notice you. There’s so much of this stuff on the internet. You’ve got a big upside, but you’ve got a huge
downside as well. It all comes down to how you conduct your campaigns. I think the fact that records and recording music is a huge shift in the
value of it. The record is used as way of drawing attention to live shows now.
What is your opinion of electronic music today with it taking aspects of New Wave into new mediums?
I’ve always had a soft spot for and an interest in electronic music. Even in the early days of Wang Chung, we were at the forefront of technology in
the studio. It’s all mixed sort of dance music and rock music. To me, EDM is just a natural progression from that point. And I think something like
Dubstep and what Skrillex is doing is actually really quite original, it’s much less rehashing over older ideas and it’s trying to do something new. I
have quite an open mind to it.
With music and the technological changes, do you find it to be a struggle to work with new devices?
I’ve been around producers, musicians and artists and DJs that work with synths. I’m not a hands-on kind of guy, but I know what needs to be done
and I’m quite very specific about getting it achieved when working with an engineer or programmer. Jack is more able to do that.
What was the first live show that you went to?
I remember it very well. Well, I saw many gigs in my life when I was very young. I saw The Rolling Stones play in 1966 at Wembley Stadium, but it
was very hard to hear because the whole audience was screaming and I was only 11 and I was screaming with them. But, I think the first gig that I
went to that completely blew my mind was Led Zeppelin at the Albert Hall in 1969. It was one of their first ever gigs. I was really young, like 14, and I
didn’t really know what underground music was and I thought Led Zeppelin was some guy. It was absolutely, totally amazing. It just completely
changed my life.
What was the first record you ever purchased?
I think it was The Troggs actually. I mean I can’t say they’re my favorite band. I wasn’t very old and I happened to have enough money to make my
Growing up, did you have a supportive family behind you and your music career?
I think there was a slight sense of “you won’t be successful at this…yes, this is all very well, this is all very nice, but you can’t really be serious with
this as a career.” That was slightly their attitude. I used to live across from Jon Moss, the drummer for Culture Club, and we went to school
together. We formed a band when we were in school and that’s kind of how I learned how to play. They allowed John and I and the band to kind of
occasionally rehearse and make a horrible noise in the house, so I suppose I should be grateful for that. God bless them.
Will there be any touring with this album?
Our agent is definitely looking for us to do that and we’d really love to do that. We toured over there in 2010 and 2009 and the reaction we got was
so great, people loved it and we thought it was really enjoyable. Kind of more enjoyable than it used to be in the 80s actually. It was more relaxing
instead of worrying about trying to establish what we are to people. It was just fun. That kept us going as well, that inspired us.
Nick Feldman and Jack Hues during the 80s. Photo Provided.
Nick Feldman and Jack Hues in 2012. Photo Provided.
Wang Chung performing at Wembley Stadium. Photo Provided.
Wang Chung returns with Tazer Up!, the duo's first LP since The Warmer Side Of Cool.