Erasure to play The Wiltern; Vince Clarke talks music, Depeche Mode, cactus costume

British synth-pop duo Erasure are on the road again, which means audiences can expect Any Bell and Vince Clarke to don some outlandish and fabulous costumes. Remember Clarke dressed as a cactus?

Erasure, celebrating 33 years of making music, is on tour in support of their 2017 CD, “World Be Gone.”

Their latest release, “World Beyond,” is an orchestral reworking of “World Be Gone.” “World Beyond” is a collaboration with Echo Collective, the Brussels, Belgium ensemble of post-classical musicians. But Erasure’s concerts won’t be an evening of violins and harps.

Erasure, long-time favorites in the queer community, will play four shows in Los Angeles at The Wiltern: August 21, 24, 25, and 26. Find tickets here.

In an interview with Q Voice News, Clarke talks about Erasure’s orchestral CD, Depeche Mode, and wearing that cactus costume.

Here are some excerpts.

Working with Echo Collective

“We made the record last year, and were talking about remixes,” Clarke says. “We were thinking of techno remixes, but then I mentioned about orchestral remixes. It’s very cinematic, which we loved.

“I suggested a remix, and then they suggested, If we do a remix, let’s do a whole album.”

Making music

“At the end of the day, you make a record, we make a record,” Clarke say. “We don’t second guess what people will like. We do it for ourselves. Hopefully, other people will buy it or download it. We don’t have marketing meetings.

“We’ve been making records a little while,” Clarke says. “We know how to write a good song. We know when it’s a bad song.”

Erasure World Be Gone Tour

Andy Bell, right, belts out a song while Vince Clarke tickles the keyboard keys during a May 2017 concert at Roadhouse in London. Photo: Andy Sturmey.

Writing a good song

“For me, it’s quite instinctive,” Clarke says. “Sometimes you get excited about an idea, and give it time to ferment. Then you go, It still sounds good. Then you know you will be recording it.”

Crazy tour costumes

“I like the idea of not taking myself too seriously,” Clarke says. “Costume designer Dean Bright came up with the idea of the cactus. I thought it was the funniest idea.

“He said, You can play a cactus. Fit your arms into the sleeves and your eyes are sticking out a couple of holes. Play acoustic guitar. We played the song ‘Ship of Fools.’ It’s a serious song, and there I am playing an acoustic guitar and playing a cactus.”

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“It’s like 10 steps forward and 5 steps back,” Clarke says. “It’s hard for me to understand what’s happening in the minds of people making these (political) decisions.

“It makes no sense to go backward,” he says. “I don’t know if Trump has reinforced fear with people. I’m not a fan of the current administration.”

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Being an optimist

“In my lifetime, I saw the end of Apartheid, the Berlin Wall come down, an almost agreement with Israel and Palestine. It looked like the world was moving forward.

“Now it seems like things are moving backwards. But, at the same time, I’m an optimist. I have a 12-year-old son. I can’t be a pessimist.”

Working again with Depeche Mode?

“Probably not,” Clarke says. “Martin writes complicated songs. I can’t play those chords. Maybe I’ll ask Dave if I can come on tour and do a song in my cactus outfit.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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