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SPANDAU BALLET Golden Years

Spandau Ballet Press Shots
Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet enjoyed a string of chart successes through the ‘80s, none more popular than the top 10 hit singles True and Gold.

By the end of the decade though, the band broke up and barely spoke to each other for 20 years, before reforming in 2009.

“Basically Spandau Ballet are a pretty standard rock band,” declares Kemp. “Guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and a vocalist. We have a sax player who plays guitar, too. It’s pretty standard. What we do, is we can set up in any room and we can play those songs that everybody knows.”

With a documentary film and a greatest hits album featuring new tracks recently released, Spandau Ballet are focussing on touring for now, but more material is a possibility for further down the track.

“Everybody says, ‘why didn’t you bring out a new album this time?’,” Kemp explains. “We spent two years making the documentary, Soul Boys Of The Western World! That was kind of a reintroduction. We all felt at the time, it was better us spending our time making that, than it was to make a new album. We put three new songs on the greatest hits album, The Story, which is what we had time to do.

“We spent most of our time really absorbed in making the movie. I think it’s working out pretty well for us, in the way that a lot of people in a lot of countries think that Spandau Ballet started with the records True and Gold, but there is a history before that. The film was kind of filling in the blanks for a lot of people. Also, it isn’t everyday you get an opportunity to make a movie.”

After the band broke up relations between some members degenerated into acrimony, with a bitter court case being fought over royalties between Kemp’s older brother Gary – the primary songwriter of the band – and the rest of the band – singer Tony Hadley, drummer John Keeble and guitarist/saxophonist, Stephen Norman. The younger Kemp stayed out of that fight, refusing to publically take sides, and his older brother eventually won the battle. It took another 10 years before the band would reunite, and making the movie was a cathartic experience for all involved.

“Yeah, it was a really difficult one, emotionally,” Kemp states. “We all recorded our voice-overs separately for the film. There was stuff I was listening to from the other boys, I was hearing on the film for the first time. I had never heard their side of the story. It was an emotional journey, yeah. It’s still cathartic today. It’s pretty much like therapy.

“How did we get over it?” he posits, “Because there is something bigger than just us: there was the band, the music, which essentially was the thing that brought us all back together. We’re not silly, songs like True, Gold and Only When You Leave mean so much to people. Even when we are on stage the last couple of months playing around the world, you can see how much those songs mean to people. Those songs are kind of the theme songs for important moments in people’s lives. It’s an incredible pleasure to be able to do that, to make people happy. I think what we all realised was the band was bigger than us as individuals.”

To get a chance to do this all over again, 25 years later, is a blessing that Kemp doesn’t take for granted.

“Yeah, it’s just a joy. First it’s a joy to be back with my mates. In 2009 we got back together – it was a test, really. It was us putting our toes in the water to see if people were still interested in us playing live, coming to see us. It was a test to see whether we could work together. So, now, we know we’ve got all of that stuff out of the way. It’s purely about us having fun on stage.

“I think before, when we were kids, it was all about what was going to happen after the show, where the party was going to be. Now it’s about what’s going to happen on stage. That’s were the fun is now.”