Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

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Interview: Cutting Crew

12 min read

As part of of a resurgence in popularity of British acts on the international stage in the mid-eighties, Cutting Crew were catapulted to the top of the charts when the band released their very first single, (I Just) Died In Your Arms in late 1986. The band went from a recording act to dominating the stages around the world very quickly and scored a U.S number one hit with the track.

While the band has taken various forms over the past 30 years, frontman Nick Van Eede is still going strong and continuing to carry the Cutting Crew torch so that fans can continue to relish in the nostalgia from the bands 80’s catalogue as well as gearing up for the release of a brand new record in October.

Despite the bands schedule already blooming with a new record on the horizon, Nick and co are set to land in Australia next month to perform alongside fellow 80’s icons Paul Young, Nik Kershaw and Go West as part of the 80’s Mania tour which visits all major cities across the country and we were lucky enough to have a chat with Nick about the upcoming dates, the new collection, the bands history and the success of their debut single (I Just) Died In Your Arms. Here is what Nick had to tell us…

Brendon Veevers: Cutting Crew are part of the upcoming 80’s Mania tour which is heading to various cities around Australia later in the year. Am I right in assuming you are already well into rehearsals?

Nick Van Eede: We are indeed. Yeah, we have the tour coming up and it’s going to be great. We’re gonna have a brilliant time. We’ve got a new album coming out as well so we’ve got that coming along at the same time so we are trying to tie it all in together so we are double busy. My secretary is also off on holiday so that’s making me do all of that stuff too (laughs).

BV: Joining you on the tour is your friends and fellow 80’s icons Paul Young, Nik Kershaw and Go West. What can fans in Australia expect from these upcoming shows?

NVE: Well, they are mates, you got that spot on. I think you got it right on the nail there. When you’ve been knocking around for 25—30 years you play with these people and you become friends. I think as you get older a lot of those old egos go out the window and its amazing how so many things that we thought were so important don’t really mean a thing. We have a good joke. Some of us still have our hair; some of us don’t. Some of us still have our waistline; some of us don’t (laughs). But we have some cracking songs and this style of tour is not a unique invention – it was happening in the 60’s when all of the bands like The Beatles did it. You’ll hear around 25 hits over about 2 ½ hours so it’s a pretty good show.

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BV: I know you have a new album in the works which I want to ask you about shortly. On a tour like 80’s Mania though, will there be any new songs thrown in or is it matter of keeping to the hits for the fans?

NVE: Yeah, we will of course be throwing in the hits and we might even throw in a couple of covers. We do covers a lot over here so perhaps some neat, well-chosen covers but definitely some songs from the new album. I think we have time for about 6 songs and in those there will be at least a couple from the new album. I just got this old guitar out and its tunes to ‘E’ and it sounds amazing so that will definitely be playing one of the songs from the new album.

BV: What do you enjoy the most about doing a tour like 80’s Mania as opposed to headlining your own?

NVE: Yeah, that’s a good question. Of course headlining our own tour is ultimate. What we do with the songs, when you watch us; (I Just) Died In Your Arms  is 9 minutes long. I’ve Been In Love Before is a beautiful, beautiful new version. So, after 25 years you will tinkle with songs and this is of no detriment to any of the other boys on the tour but I’ve heard their stuff and it’s pretty faithful to what they do, with their hits, but we’re a rock band so we don’t do any sampling or any sequencing so it’s a very organic show and at any point or at any part of a song I can get the crowd singing along or whatever. So the shows are very organic and (I Just) Died In Your Arms , you will love it – it’s a spectacular version of that song that we do on the tour.

BV: What’s it like for you to be performing songs like (I Just) Died In Your Arms after almost 30 years. Is it still an exciting track for you to play?

NVE: I’ve learned from bad experience in that when we were pop stars back in the 80’s and the 90’s we would change the song a bit and we were unfaithful to it – we were almost making fun of it and you just can’t do that. If someone drives 185 miles to come and see us and we don’t give them what they want to hear then that’s an insult. What we’ve done is we have tweaked it so that it still has the essence and a bit more. I don’t know, it all sounds a bit posh but it’s not really, it’s just that we are musicians and we love the song and you have to keep faithful to it but keep it interesting at the same time.

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BV: You are celebrating over 30 years in the industry as Cutting Crew. There aren’t too many pop bands who last 30 years. Rewind 30 years and did you ever believe that Cutting Crew would be cited as influences for music acts 30 years down the track and still be around to tour the world today?

NVE: (laughs) That’s your best question Brendon and because it’s almost a bit like a cosmic question. The music business has changed so much and I’ve had the privilege to play in Germany every year with people like, god bless him as he is gone, but people like Jack Bruce as well as Chaka Khan, Greg Lake, Al Di Meola – these are all people that I grew up, cause I’m a little bit younger than them, being fans of. It’s hard to realise the opportunities I’ve been given over the last 20 years.

The industry has changed so much and I’m 57 right now so to be able to get on my jeans and get up on stage with my telecaster and sing is amazing. Even back then it was unheard of. Look at Pete Townshend – 70 years old and sounding amazing.

Acts like us, we’re privileged and I don’t mean that in any kind of hokey way but we’re privileged to be able to still be doing it after this long. But I have to say, so long as you can still cut it and I am very, very strict on that. I hope that it never happens but I hope that one day when I can no longer do it, that I will resign gracefully because there are a few out there that should have.

BV: Your most successful song and therefore Cutting Crews signature hit is (I Just) Died In Your Arms. The track obviously opened the door to Cutting Crew becoming a hugely successful band worldwide. Remembering the days of that songs success, do you think the band was prepared for the early success that the song brought?

NVE: Yeah, think you are ready for it. Kevin, who is now long departed, was 33, I was 26 and we had been doing it since we were 17 and you think you are ready but you’re not because it was so massive. Looking back on it as an old man (laughs), I always thought to release I Just Died In Your Arms as the first single was foolish because everybody was so excited about that song and personally, I would have teased the public a bit and got us out there and done a few tours but no, no no, Richard Branson had to go immediately for the big one and it was astonishing. It was so quick and it was so massive that even as a hardened 26 year old it took us all by surprise. I mean, we weren’t even really a band. We were a recording band which is the reason why we were called Cutting Crew – it was a bit of an in-joke about being a recording act, not a live act, and so we had to cut our teeth very, very quickly.

I remember doing a gig at The Marquee in London (Sept ’86) and we were number 10 in the charts in the UK and we had done 2 gigs before that and that was pretty scary when all the critics were out there waiting with their swords.

BV: Given the fact that you are the founding member of the band and the songwriter of songs like I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight, you are also the only remaining member of that original line-up. Do you feel sad performing songs that made the band or does it feel more like a celebration of the bands success for you?

NVE: Yeah, of course it would be lovely if Kevin was here. He was my best friend. My dad died pretty soon after I had met him and he became almost like the older man in my life. He was such a wise, beautiful man and it would be so great to have him here.

I played a gig on the weekend and Frost (Martin “Frosty” Beedle) our drummer was in the band supporting us so we’re all still mates and everybody is still standing, I think.

But, you move on and Cutting Crew in Australia will be myself and Gareth Moulton my guitarist who has been with me for 10 years now and he is spectacular. I mean, imagine his position. He’s had to go on stage where hardened fans over in Texas will be waiting for the guitar solo, just like Kevin played it. He’s playing it just like Kevin played it but not one bit like Kevin played it if you know what I mean. He’s being faithful but he is also adding so much more and he is a breath of beautiful fresh air and he is a fully, fully signed up Cutting Crew member now but I do see your point. You have some very rare bands – U2, The Rolling Stones. There aren’t many that are still the same.

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BV: Going back to the upcoming album, when are you planning to release the record and will the new songs carry the familiar Cutting Crew sound or have you veered away a bit with the new material?

NVE: The album is going to be released on October 2nd. This tour is a fantastic bit of fun before we get back into selling the original stuff. I am so proud of this one. I am very fortunate and I don’t care how this comes across in the interview but I am very fortunate to not have to make a record every couple of years. I’ve spent 5 years on this one with the writing of it and the producing and so on and we are getting sensational reactions from the industry here in Britain.

It’s not one bit like the old Cutting Crew. We have girls and we have horns on a few songs. It was very liberating and I have spoken to a few other guys of my age who make records and some of them keep it (their new material) really faithful to their sound and others stretch it our really, really far away like making a folk album or something like that. That’s not what this is but it’s a little like Warren Zevon meets Van Morrison meets Jackson Browne meets a whole load of stuff, you know. I don’t know how old you are Brendon but I know that you are going to know what I mean when I say that most albums have 2 good songs on them and the rest is shite. I’ve never, ever done that – my bar is set high. I don’t care if somebody says that there are only two good songs on there and the rest is shite, that I know that I set the bar high and this new album has so many fantastic songs. And I’m not saying that to you to sell it – I know that it is and that is why I am ready to release it.

We’ve got a great new single called ‘Till The Money Runs Out which is a poke at a girl I used to know who has married “well” shall we say and waiting until that money runs out. The video that we shot last week is us on a beach in Sussex here in England, in the pouring rain with an ATM cash machine stuck in the beach with an electric plug. We filmed people coming along and trying to get cash out (laughs). So yeah, we are having a lot of fun with it.

It’s very liberating. There was a point about 3 years ago where I said “Fuck it, you know what? I’ve written a song that just sounds a bit like Curtis Mayfield. Can I sing it? Yes I can! Do I want to hear it back again and not cringe? No I don’t!” It’s very lovely – it’s a very free-flowing album.

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BV: Last question for you Nick! With celebrating 30 years in the business, where do you see yourself and Cutting Crew in say 10 years?

NVE: I’m delighted by my voice. I try my best to keep myself in shape. I swim a lot and scuba a lot. We also rescue Lurcher Greyhound dogs so we’ve got dogs all around the house all the time. I have a really charmed life but the main thing I have is my voice and without any exercises or anything like that I seem to be singing good so as long as that stays in tact – actually I won’t mention any names and I actually don’t mean this in any carping way but I do so many gigs where everyone is in a back room going “la, la, la, la” (sings a musical scale). Or Katrina – who won’t mind me saying it – Katrina of Katrina and the Waves who is a lovely best friend of mine. She does this strange thing with her voice which is just what she has to do. Gareth and I will have a bit of Jack Daniels and we’ll just walk on stage. And I don’t say that in a cocky way at all, I just mean that I am blessed because my voice is in great shape.

BV: Thanks for chatting with us Nick and we can’t wait to catch you on the road next month.

NVE: Thanks Brendon – it’s been fun chatting!

For a full list of dates on the upcoming 80’s Mania tour featuring Cutting Crew, Paul Young, Nik Kershaw and Go West, click here!