If you grew up in the 80s, you were Wang Chung-ing. The super popular English musical group comprised of Jack Hues and Nick Feldman had everybody enjoying their “Dance Hall Days” and hoping “To Live and Die in L.A.” We caught up with Nick and Jack while they were on their U.S. tour to talk about Wang Chung, their new album, Tazer Up!, and why performing is now more meaningful than ever.
I loved the new album, Tazer Up! What can fans expect from it?
Nick: The album has a healthy reference to our past but a modernism to it, too.
Jack: It’s Wang Chung for the 21st century. We do have a strong core sound. One of my pet subjects is talking about music in terms of genre. People will say, “Oh, I really like metal or dance music” but they’re not talking about the artist. But when Nick and I were first starting out, we would buy Beatles records, like Sgt. Pepper. All the songs had different sounds. So The Beatles used genre as a way of projecting their ideas and framing them. I think our approach with Tazer Up! is similar. From “Points On a Curve” to “To Live and Die in L.A.” to “Mosaic,” each of those albums has had a different approach. So I think that’s a Wang Chung hallmark.
I loved the new song, “Rent Free.” A woman must have inspired that one.
Nick: It was about an ex-girlfriend. She drove me absolutely mad. [laughs] We’re good friends now, but she did drive me a bit crazy.
As all women are apt to do.
Jack: Yes, I’m trying to think of the ones who won’t, and I can’t. [laughs]
Wang Chung has been around for 30 years. How do you keep it fresh for yourselves?
Nick: For not doing it for about 20 years! [laughs] We did take a lot of time off. I suppose in the 90s we could have gone our separate ways, because we had a great run in the 80s. I guess we wanted to do our own thing, so we went into our own things. I worked with Jon Moss from The Culture Club and Jack did a solo album. But we reconnected a lot in different projects but not necessarily as Wang Chung.
Jack: I think being interested in all different kinds of music helps, too. Nick is into more dance stuff and I like more jazzy music. Over the years, I’ve hit various periods—like in the mid 90s, I discovered Miles Davis. Although I had heard his music before, I had never gotten it until then.
What has it been like to tour and leave family behind?
Jack: It’s challenging in some ways but it’s also healthy to get out of your normal life. When you’re confronted with something like this, it can be hard, but once you’re out on tour, you love it. And I love performing so much more now. I don’t know if that’s growing up a bit or what. In the 80s, we played massive venues and performed with The Cars and Tina Turner. We were playing 70,000-80,000 people a night. And even though that’s very exciting, it’s quite isolating in a way. In the 80s, there was a pressure to deliver, and now, we’re doing it because we want to. We’re playing sets that we want to play, and playing to audiences that we can really see. And when you’re getting them, it’s tangible. It’s so much
more real now, and in a way, so much more satisfying.
Nick: People were saying that they enjoy it more now than they did then, and that’s certainly the way it is for me.
Maybe it’s the time. You had tremendous success in the 80s, and that’s a lot to take in in one shot.
Jack: I think we’re not these huge testosterone, ego-filled people. Well, Nick is.
Nick: I am. [laughs] In a way, we are defined as people and as a band in our old age, so that pressure when we were younger was to carve something out.
You already proved it, and now you’re enjoying it.
Jack: Exactly. And the people who have signed up for it are coming along with it.
Nick: What we’re doing has something integral to it. So it’s not some cabaret 80s Wang Chung tribute band. We don’t want to be that.
Jack: We want to be taken seriously, and Tazer Up! has been doing really well, with both the diehard fans and the new ones as well. People are loving it; they’re not going to the bar when the new songs play. [laughs]
I’m on the Wang Chung Facebook page, and I love the fact that it’s the two of you doing it.
Nick: Facebook is something we do ourselves. We love to connect with the fans and hear their thoughts.
Jack: It’s all about connecting with them, which we can do now more than ever. Music is an amazing territory to get to know and journey through. Fortunately with Wang Chung, there’s enough latitude to express it all.