Monday, July 16, 2012
The Fixx returns as resonant as ever
The Fixx - singer Cy Curnin (top center) says the Fixx has stayed together for more than 30 years because "it's really a deep friendship. We know how to argue with each other."
With the world mired in an ongoing financial crisis, it’s little surprise that the Fixx, ’80s-spawned rockers who have always featured material revolving around political topics, would return in 2012 fueled by such matters, leading the quintet to create one of its best-ever albums, Beautiful Friction.
Set for release on Tuesday (July 17, 2012) by Kirtland Records, the disc is the Fixx’ first studio album since 2003’s Want That Life. The British band launches a U.S. tour in support of it with a headlining concert Wednesday, July 18, at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, bringing the group back to O.C. after a memorable performance at Jack’s 5th Show at Irvine’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in September 2010.
Beautiful Friction is the outfit’s 10th assortment of new material overall and arrives 30 years after the release of their official debut, 1982’s Shuttered Room, which established the Fixx stateside with the hits “Stand or Fall” and “Red Skies.”
Anyone who listens to those staples of the New Wave era – or any of their other singles from back in the day, like “Saved by Zero,” “Are We Ourselves,” “One Thing Leads to Another” and “Deeper and Deeper” – knows that the members of the Fixx have worn their politics on their collective sleeve from the start. Indeed, the band’s “How Much Is Enough?” (which peaked at No. 35 on Billboard’s Hot 100 back in late 1991) could well be a fight song for the Occupy Wall Street movement decades later.
“The last few years we were doing a lot of live shows and just didn’t feel the binge to put new music out,” says singer Cy Curnin, “and then all of a sudden, about three or four years ago, things went pear-shaped out there in society, and that’s what I feed on (as a songwriter). There was a financial crisis and there were people starting to ask big questions and politicians didn’t seem so squeaky-clean.”
What is so remarkable about the Fixx is not only that its original lineup – including guitarist Jamie West-Oram, keyboardist Rupert Greenall, drummer Adam Woods and bassist Dan K. Brown – is impressively still together, but also how relevant the group’s songs sound today.
When they performed the 1988 hit “Driven Out” at Verizon in 2010, casual fans might have mistaken that burning track’s environmental-minded lyrics for those of a freshly-penned songs: “Driven out by thieves / I watch them pillage the planet / Fueled by a fattening greed / Trees fall to the hatchet.”
Curnin is proud his material has held up, although he wishes more of the problems he’s addressed over the years would have been solved by now.
“Each artist or each writer has their own slant on things. Mine is that social backdrop of the mechanics of how we surrender our own dream-time to be part of a system that is managed by people that who aren’t as godlike as they should be,” he said by phone from London, where the band was preparing for this coming tour.
“The relevance (of Fixx songs) has stayed there because it’s never been sorted out, and it’s an ongoing thing whenever you have a credit-based system and you have politicians (serving) on multiple terms. I really believe in one-term elections and flat tax rates and that type of stuff.”
Beautiful Friction features a wealth of songs that showcase the band’s lyrical bite along with other well-crafted originals that blend rich textures and melodic elements set around Curnin’s distinctive tenor. The driving anthem “Anyone Else,” luxuriant “Second Time Around” and blistering “What God?” are among the highlights from an 11-cut album written and recorded over a span of about three years.
“We didn’t know it would work out as well as it did because we have different lives now, we have children,” Curnin explained of the process. “We have to book certain weekends together. Like once a month we would work for four days and when we would work we would come up with three or four songs. And after the time when we would break up and go back to our lives, if the song stayed with you, it was a good sign; if it didn’t stay with you, it would fall apart.”
Curnin says everyone in the Fixx is grateful to still be playing together after so many years.
“I’ll tell you what: We’re actually enjoying it more than ever. Because when we turn around on stage and we catch each other’s eyes we know we’re still (expletive) doing it! And still getting the same buzz. It’s almost like wine. Wine improves in the bottle and it gets better with age, and I think music does, too.
“It’s only the fact that the industry in music – “out with the old, in with the new” – it wasn’t designed to let people in on the fact that you could grow older with an artist and this artist was going to get better. That’s what we discovered, because we’re still doing it and enjoying it … that is where your wisdom comes through, you know?”
Curnin acknowledges that much of the power of the Fixx lies in its relationship with fans as well as each other.
“You know what it is – it’s really a deep friendship. We know how to argue with each other. In fact, it’s not arguing anymore – it’s just adding to the soup and getting the ingredients right. We do genuinely love each other like brothers. We respect each other like elders. And yet we’ve been through so much together, there are so many unsaid (things). We only need a wink and a nod and it says so much in this band.”
The Fixx, with opening acts the Reflexx and Hyena Motorcade, play Wednesday, July 18, at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, in San Juan Capistrano. Tickets are $20. Also catch the band July 19 at Brixton in Redondo Beach and July 21 in L.A.’s Pershing Square.