Select Page

Back Into The Gap with Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins

Back Into The Gap with Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins

Back Into The Gap with Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins

Tom Bailey and the Thompson Twins are about to hit the road on the Totally Tubular Festival – including a local stop at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood on June 29th!  Also featured on the tour are Thomas Dolby, Modern English, Men Without Hats, and a whole lot more!  Recently celebrating the 40-year anniversary of the iconic Into The Gap release, expect Tom Bailey and the Thompson Twins to perform selections from that album as well as many other fan favorites from a vast and epic career in music.  Highwire Daze recently interviewed Tom Bailey to discuss the forth coming Totally Tubular Festival, the 30th anniversary of the first Babble album, a look at his solo Science Fiction endeavor, and other topics of intrigue.  Read on…

We’re here with Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins.  You recently completed the 40th anniversary of the Into the Gap Tour. How did that go, and what were some of the highlights?
It went very well, thank you. And it was an amazing thing to do after 40 years. Some of those songs, I hadn’t performed for 40 years. Some of them had never been performed. I think one of them was never performed live. So, it was something of an undertaking, and we enjoyed it so much. It’s a new band, of course, and the interpretations of the songs were contemporized, you might say, but very recognizable. And they get a big response because the people who come to those shows remember that album, and they’re mentally, if not vocally, singing along with it.

Was it a challenge to actually learn some of these songs that you’ve hardly ever played or have never played?
Well, of course, it’s a challenge. Challenge is a good thing, but I have a band of amazing musicians, and we got stuck into it, and the results were very good. We were happy.

When you look back on Into the Gap and the fact that it’s been 40 years, what do you think of the album now in retrospect?
Well, it’s one of the ones that I’m most pleased with, from the catalog of output over the years. I think we were at the peak of our abilities in one way or another. And it was also, strangely enough, quite an easy album to make, in the sense that it just flowed out without great disputes or lack of direction or anything. It just was really clear what we had to do, and the focus was there. So, yes.

What are you looking forward to the most about the upcoming Totally Tubular Festival?
We won’t get the chance to play at such length because our set length is much shorter on the festival. I think there are 7 bands, so that’s going to be exciting. We’ll start… I think we’ll have to start fairly early in the evening to get 7 bands through, and whoever’s on stage management will have their work cut out for them, I think.

But anyway, one of the big thrills for me is co-headlining Thomas Dolby, which is an idea that’s been a long time coming. We worked together on my 2nd album. He played some synthesizers on that. And so, he was kind of instructive. He’s one of the early synth guys in the UK. And so, he was influential in getting me going there as well.

But we’ve never actually been on the same stage. And in fact, for years, we’ve been out of touch with each other but bumped into him at an ’80s festival a couple of years back, and the idea of doing something together came up, and here we are. It’s come to fruition.

In Los Angeles, she’ll be performing at the YouTube theatre. I was wondering, what are some of your favorite memories of playing here in Los Angeles?
Well, of course, Los Angeles is a beautiful and crazy place. So, my memory of arriving there for the first time was kind of unbelievable. I think after an overnight journey in the snow going through the mountains and then arriving on a sunny day, and Sunset Boulevard, I could not believe the kind of dream come true of Hollywood. But it’s also an intense place to be. It always seems like one of the important gigs of the tour.

And I think also, because of some of the radio stations that supported us there, like KROQ, for example, some songs were famous there that didn’t create so much of a wave elsewhere. And that’s interesting, isn’t it? That of the songs you write, sometimes 1 is a hit in one place but not another, and there was a particular B side that got played a lot on KROQ that people wanted to play live, which we never do. This is a strange thing.

I tend to remember that they were playing like Passion Planet and Tokyo.
That’s right. Yes.

I love those songs. Did you even play those songs live anymore?
No. No, not at all. I think, I referenced a little bit of Passion Planet just because so many people have asked me about it, but I don’t do the whole song at all. And elsewhere in the world, no one ever mentions it, but in Southern California, they love it.

You have another anniversary that’s happening this year. It’s a 30-year anniversary of The Stone by Babble. When you look back on that and the fact that it’s been 30 years, what do you think of that album now in retrospect?
And strangely enough, by coincidence, that was the other album, as well as Into the Gap, that just kind of flowed out of the process so easily. I love that record. It was never destined to be a hit because it’s essentially an underground project, but I think creatively it was very satisfying. And I love to hear it now. And it’s a different kind of music; it’s long form. The songs are much longer; they have long introductions. These days, people write pop songs starting with the chorus. Back in the day, in the days of Babble, we would take 3 minutes to even get to the first verse.

Let’s talk about Science Fiction that you released in 2018. For people who haven’t heard it, how does Science Fiction and your solo work compare to what you do in the Thompson Twins?
I’m working in the kind of mainstream pop area again on that record. So, it kind of picks up where I left off with The Twins. And it was relatively easy to make that move, if you know what I mean, because of The Twins. Because of the way we divided the tasks in the three-piece twins, basically, music was my responsibility.

So, it was me doing it and me doing it again on my solo record. So, there’s a great similarity in the process. Science Fiction is a solo record in as much as it’s just me playing anything. No one else is really involved apart from some backing vocals. And yes, I enjoyed writing those songs. Again, it flowed fairly easily. It doesn’t always happen that way, but you’ve actually picked 3 records that were (fun to do).

I believe you are performing Science Fiction live, or you did on the Into The Gap tour. Tell me about that song and the inspiration behind it.
Yes, we often include the song Science Fiction. Well, it’s a funny thing because, as I’ve said in the past, I’m not particularly a fan of science fiction as a genre, because, to me, I don’t read or watch those movies that people would suspect from that song. To me, science fiction is a way of looking at the present because it re-contextualizes the problems of now.

And so, in that sense, I’m a big fan of science fiction or the perspective that it brings. But as you may know, the song really has another level, another meaning, which is about dragging someone away from their obsession with science fiction and bringing them back to now. That’s really what the song is about.

Would you like to record any other solo music or even Thompson Twins music in the future?
I’m always writing and recording, so there’s all sorts of stuff in the can in various states of repair, and whether or not we make another album, I don’t know. It won’t be this year because Into the Gap is being re-released. It’s been remastered and is coming out in various formats like Dolby Atmos, and stuff. So, I don’t want to get in the way of that. And that’s going to be the big thing for me this year.

Another one of your albums is about to celebrate 40 years, and that’s, of course, Here’s to Future Days. Any plans to do any kind of tour with that?
No, some people have mentioned, “Hey, why not?” But they don’t get much time off these ideas; people do that, but it’s like, we’ll see. I can’t imagine that, performing the whole of the Future Days album would be as easy or as satisfying as it was with Into the Gap, but we’ll see. I’ll have a look at some of that material again and try and include it.

Do you ever hear from Alannah Currie or Joe Leeway from time to time?
Yes, but partly because of the re-release of Into the Gap, there’s been a lot of email discussions going on about how best to do that. But I also caught up with Alannah in New Zealand about a month ago. We had coffee, and she just moved there again, and I was just about to leave to come out on tour. So, we had a meeting and everything was cool. Everything’s good. She seems in great shape, and I think Joe’s happy as well, so it’s good.

Are you currently involved with any other bands or projects outside of what you’re doing now?
Not directly at this very moment, but always part of me is as a gun for hire. I like to do that from time to time. I just played on a couple of other people’s records. One actually interestingly enough, an original Thompson Twins member made an almost kind of an Americana country record. And he said he wanted some keyboards. And so, he sent it to me, and I played piano on it. So, things like that are always great fun.

Tom Bailey, gun for hire. I like that.
Occasional gun for hire, we should say.

Ken: Occasional gun for hire. Okay, there you go. All right. Do you have any messages for Thompson Twins fans out here in Los Angeles who are reading this now?
Absolutely looking forward to seeing familiar faces and new faces when we get there. It’s going to be wonderful. Touring these days is a big deal for me, and I love doing it. So, to be performing anywhere is a dream come true, but LA is one of the big ones. Let’s have a party!

Here are the TOTALLY TUBULAR FESTIVAL tour dates:
*6/25 – Seattle – Remlinger Farms
*6/27 – Sacramento – Hard Rock Live
*6/28 – Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara Bowl
*6/29 – Los Angeles – YouTube Theater
*6/30 – Oakland – Fox Theatre
*7/3 – Phoenix – Arizona Financial Theatre
*7/6 – Denver – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
*7/9 – Irving, TX – Pavilion @ Toyota Music Factory
*7/10 – Houston – 713 Music Hall
*7/12 – Huntsville, AL – Orion Amphitheatre
*7/13 – Raleigh, NC – Red Hat Amphitheatre
*7/14 – Washington, DC – Anthem
^7/16 – Bridgeport, CT – Hartford Healthcare Amphitheatre
^7/17 – Boston – MGM Music Hall @ Fenway
^7/18 – New York, NY – Pier 17
^7/19 – Atlantic City – Hard Rock Live @ Etess Arena
^7/20 – Bushkill, PA – Poconos Park Amphitheatre
^7/23 – Montreal, QUE – Place Bell
^7/24 – Toronto, ONT – Great Canadian Casino Resort
^7/26 – Detroit – Meadowbrook Amphitheatre
^7/27 – Cincinnati – Riverbend Music Center
^7/28 – Cleveland – Blossom Music Center

(Interview by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

Thompson Twins on Facebook
Totally Tubular Festival Official Home Page

Skip to content