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By Lawrence Ferber
With his second solo outing, “Non-Stop” (Mute), Erasure vocalist Andy Bell is behind the wheel of a shiny new electropop model. Characterized by an edgier, nightclub-ready sound with fevered nu-disco flourish – compliments of co-writer/co-producer Pascal Gabriel (Ladyhawke, Kylie Minogue, Little Boots) – “Non-Stop,” out June 8, can temporarily teleport you to a trendy queer London bar.
Single to mingle at 46 (“I don’t want to be a total whore really. I don’t. But. Well.”), the London-based Bell spoke by phone about the album, meeting Lady Gaga, and whether we might ever see him on a cheesy reality show.
I’m glad that you went in a harder, edgier, nu-disco direction with “Non-Stop” rather than, say, an acoustic album of ballads.
Yeah. It’s a bit wishy-washy, all that acoustic stuff. Someone asked me what else I’d like to do and I said I’d love to do some “Threepenny Opera” music or some stuff with an orchestra or a duets album with females.
How else does “Non-Stop” differ from your past efforts?
For me it was quite liberating. I think you can maybe get to know more about me from this one. Maybe I’m more guarded with Erasure.
I love the track “DHDQ,” aka “Debbie Harry Drag Queen.” Has Debbie, whom you appeared with during 2008’s True Colors Tour, heard it yet?
She heard one version of the song because I surreptitiously sent it to her and asked if she wanted to do backing vocals. We didn’t hear anything back so I took that as a no (laughs). I hope she likes the finished article.
The song “Touch” is described as being an “angry reaction to the demeaning C-list celebrity freak show of reality television.” Cyndi Lauper was on this year’s “Celebrity Apprentice” – do you hold that against her?
No. I like watching (UK series) “Come Dine With Me,” where all these people go around to each others’ houses and cook meals for the whole week. Some of the shows are so idiotic. They’ve asked me to go on them and I’ve always said no. I’m at least going to wait until I’m 50. I’m not totally against the idea, but want to have a certain amount of dignity before.
The Perry Farrell collaboration was kind of out of nowhere, wasn’t it?
Yeah! It was one of those moments. He came to see my performance at True Colors in L.A. and he missed the show because I was on so early. So he was kind of embarrassed to say hi, so I decided to say hi instead and go back to L.A. and see if he wanted to do a song. It was all yes, yes, yes. I’m glad because it worked out really well.
Would you like to get a call from the Red Hot Chili Peppers next?
Sure! Definitely. I could do the “Rock Whore” album with all of them.
Let’s talk pop culture. Have you been watching “Glee”?
No. I don’t know if I will like it or not because I’m a bit allergic to stage school-children.
What’s your take on Lady Gaga? And would you like to work with her?
I think she’s amazing. I met her in Palm Springs and her show’s incredible, and as a person she seems very sincere and she’s all for gay rights. In this current climate she’s taking it for everything she can get, which is right. But I would be slightly nervous.
I saw the “Telephone” video with Beyonce, which I thought was very tongue-in-cheek, and everything was thrown in there you can think of for shock value. Then again, seeing little adverts in there, I’m not saying I wouldn’t do that, but it does start to niggle me a little bit. It’s a bit harder now to keep your artistic integrity because everything is so commercialized. There’s no escape. But she did call her album “The Fame Monster.”
Since “Non-Stop” sounds like it was made for a hip London queer bar or disco, what are a couple of venues you recommend when we’re in town?
You definitely have to go to Horse Meat Disco Monday at The Eagle in Vauxhall. Otherwise, try one of the bars in the Shoreditch area. One is called George And Dragon, which is nice.”
What is your number one nightclubbing rule?
Always know your limits on drinks and stuff like that. If you want to get messy that’s fine, but always be with someone who can make sure you get home safe. I’m one of those people that is always in control. I never get so out of it I need to be carried home. I am tame. That’s my middle name.