Erasure's Andy Bell: "My Voice Is Stronger Than Ever"

"I believe I would make a very convincing Russian gangster."

Rocks Off went around asking every person in the entire world and found that there are in fact no people anywhere who do not like synth-pop superstars Erasure.

There was one guy in Sweden who said he was kind of on the fence about liking them, but in the end he admitted he dug "Chains of Love," so there you go.

It's been a while since the band has been on the road, but singer Andy Bell is making a special trip down to H-town this weekend for a little DJing and solo performance at Numbers.

Erasure has a big year coming up, with a brand new studio album in the works, a world tour after that, and a March appearance at the Ultra Music Festival. Even with all that going on, Bell was kind enough to sit down with us for a brief interview.

Rocks Off: We're told you're playing The Ultra Music Festival this March. Big deal, that. Every electro-band who's anybody will be there. Are you looking forward to it?

Andy Bell: I'm so looking forward to getting back on the road again properly. It'll be nearly four years and I'm starting to get serious withdrawals. I think it is in the blood of a performer. No matter how hardened and seasoned to the touring you are after a while it just calls you back and it is impossible to retire!

RO: Are you looking forward to seeing any other acts?

AB: I'm really looking forward to seeing Royskopp. Especially Simian Mobile Disco and Deadmau5. Also Klaxons, Cut/Copy and Crystal Castles.

RO: Will you be showing off any of the new album at the festival?

AB: We may have just one track, but we are slightly up against it at the moment. I know Vince [Clarke] is doing brand new updated versions of everything, which I can't wait to hear because I've been enjoying his recent remix work very much.

RO: Your next upcoming series of tours is a concert series in various forests in the U.K. What are you putting together for that?

AB: We decided to get together one of the very first Erasure teams, which is Andy Whittle, his wife and backing singer Emma, her sister Valerie Chalmers, and of course Mr. Clarke. So it's gonna be a bit of a lovefest. My voice is stronger than ever, and I am very fit so far.

Costume-wise, we've been thinking Knights & Jean D'Arc. Even though we are in the woods with all our electronic equipment our philosophies are very pagan, so expect Pogles Wood meets Midsummer Night's Dream.

RO: Any chance you'll bring the show over here?

AB: We hope to take it as far and wide as possible, so if we get a good offer from Houston we'll be ther

RO: You've filmed some scenes for a comedy series in the UK recently. Are you planning on doing any more acting?

AB: I have definitely picked up the acting bug after doing an Acting to Camera summer course at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. It was just such a pity that we couldn't keep any of our takes 'cause I did some "magical" takes.

As far as the comedy goes, it's a cameo, but I believe it's gonna be really funny. I think it airs in the spring. I would love to do more acting, and believe I would make a very convincing Russian gangster.

RO: No argument there. There are two things we've heard Erasure mentioned in a lot recently. The first is all the charity work you've been doing over the last year. In December you released an updated version of "A Little Respect" and donated the proceeds to The Hetrick-Martin Institute, Harvey Milk High School and Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund. What got you into working with those charities?

AB: Really the charity work comes through purely by circumstance, i.e. something a close friend or family member or even myself may have experienced. Then you have a genuine interest in what you are involved in! It takes hardly any effort on our part, and is very rewarding the feeling of putting something back after having such a charmed life!

RO: The other time your name really came up for us was when you ended up as the soundtrack to Robot Unicorn Attack. When we covered it, we said that it was the only way to ever listen to "Always." How do you feel about being a part of the game?

AB: Obviously we are thrilled that this has been such a successful non-violent game, and it has introduced a whole new younger audience to our music. Though the level of homophobia in some of the comments on Youtube is quite shocking!

RO: Houston used to be a big stop on the electro-pop circuit. Are you looking forward to coming back?

AB: It's gonna be great to be back in Houston after such a long period. I have a great deal of affection for Texas and its people and always sing its praises. Electro = Good!

RO: How is performing solo different than performing with Vince?

AB: I am much more nervy without Vince around, because we usually end up laughing hysterically before we go on stage which is very good for the soul. When I'm on my own, I try to plan in my head a few days before hand and send the event Reiki just so that every one has a good time.

Usually I have a Corona or a Patron for the nerves!

Andy Bell performs with DJ Alex C Saturday January 15 at Numbers, an appear at a pre-party tonight at Etro Lounge.

Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.

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