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Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
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Graham Clark
Features Writer
10:11 AM 22nd June 2020

Interview With Johnny Hates Jazz

Johnny Hates Jazz gave us some of the most memorable hits from the 80’s such as Shattered Dreams and Turn Back The Clock. Now Clark Datchler and Mike Nocito are releasing their new album, Wide Awake, in August.

I spoke to Clark Datchler from the band about the new album and amongst other things why is music from the 1980’s still so popular.

The new single Spirit of Love has a special video, how did that come about?
We were performing in Japan last year and we had recorded the song, Spirit of Love as we had been working on the album and we decided to try the track out on the audience. As luck would have it two guys offered to film the show which we agreed to as we thought it might come in handy at some point. Lockdown then came and we went through the footage of the show and thought it would be a good idea to ask the fans to send in a photo of what the Spirit of Love means to them. The photos came through in the thousands and you can see as many as we could use in the video to the song.

The single sounds to me like the old Johnny Hates Jazz sound mixed with an updated version of the band.
That's a very correct analogy you say there. We did decide with the album to try and be influenced by the music we grew up with, these songs always had a human connection and that is what we have tried to do with the new album. Nowadays there is the technology to make everyone sound perfect, youngsters never get to hear imperfection on new songs.

How have you been spending the Lockdown?
It is so something we all have in common, it has enabled us to value what we already had and the things that we miss. I was fascinated by how quiet everything became and I appreciated the stillness. I have lived in some wild places but I have enjoyed how quiet things became, no planes flying over. For me the Lockdown has been a time to reflect.

Did having stomach cancer and surviving give you a new outlook on life?
It added power to an outlook on life which I already had, but it also made me realise the lack of time we all have. There is a track on the album called Greater Good which sums up my view of this. In the 70's and 80's music was seen as a force for change, it is great when you can benefit everything, take for example what Marcus Rashford has done with the free school meals campaign - he has gone beyond the limits of his profession and shown empathy. The world seems to have lost empathy and passion and to be able to listen.

You wrote a lot of songs on the last studio album from Mike and the Mechanics, how did that happen?
I was very close to Brian Rawling, with his production company Metrophonic; he did the Cher track Believe and has worked with artists such as Tina Turner and One Direction. Brian actually played drums for Johnny Hates Jazz when we toured back in the 80's so I have known him for over 30 years. He suggested that I team up with Mike Rutherford, I'm not a great collaborator but to work with Mike was amazing. My jaw dropped metaphorically in the way he plays guitar, here I was with the guy from Genesis. The whole experience was an education for me.

Andrew Roachford co wrote some of the songs too. Mike wanted to give the band (Mike and the Mechanics) a rebirth. The two Paul's - Paul Young and Paul Carrack were no longer with the band but in Andrew and Tim Howar it has given the band a fresh impetus.

On the new Johnny Hates Jazz album we tried to write songs that have a meaning, take for example the track Wide Awake. We tried to make an album that we would really enjoy ourselves by putting in our influences and coming up with something that sounds lime Johnny Hates Jazz with a new twist. You reach a point in life when it is a battle trying to compete with the younger generation so this album is one that we did without trying to do that.

The Retro 80's Tours are so successful, why do you think this is?
I think it is because a generation has an affinity with the music. Of all the Absolute Radio stations by far the most successful one is Absolute 80's. Those songs were created that they would last for decades. I grew up in an era of great songwriters such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Lennon and McCartney, Carole King - these people taught us how to write and that is the fundamental difference between now and then.

Do you think today’s songs will be as popular in 30 years time?
It is hard to know. My kids like The 1975 and Taylor Swift which to them is fresh new music. It is easy for me to say they won’t be played in say 20 years time but who am I to say? My gut feeling is that maybe it will be.