Marc Almond and his Ivor Novello-winning collaborator Chris Braide (Sia, Lana Del Rey, Halsey) wrote Chaos and a Dancing Star album in Los Angeles. It’s a location which infused some of the songs with an emotionally revealing take on classic Americana, a stylistic approach which is best represented by ‘Hollywood Forever’. Referencing the famous cemetery to the stars with which it shares its name, ‘Hollywood Forever’ addresses suicide and the passing of the Golden Age.
“I’ve really come to love this decaying side of old Hollywood in Los Angeles,” says Marc. “There’s a very dark side, a very dark history as well. Beneath this utopian fantasticness of sunshine and beautiful people there’s also this underlying darkness of decay. I find that quite appealing and inspiring to write about.”
‘Hollywood Forever’ is accompanied by a short film directed by Charlie Max. The video harks back to Marc Almond’s roots, as his personality-rich performance in a cabaret club is surrounded by an audience of inspiring, larger-than-life characters. The grainy visuals give it a timeless quality that perfectly connects to the song’s atmosphere.
The album looks set to add another vital new chapter to Marc Almond’s recent resurgence. His 2017 retrospective ‘Hit & Pieces’ saw him return to the Top 10 of the album charts, and it was followed by the critically acclaimed ‘Shadows and Reflections’ set, which became the highest charting solo album of his career so far. He also reunited with David Ball to say goodbye to Soft Cell with an emotional sold-out show at London’s O2.
Between his enduringly successful solo career and initial rise with Soft Cell, Marc Almond has amassed 30 million sales in a career spanning 40 years. He’s landed two No.1 hits in the shape of the Soft Cell classic ‘Tainted Love’ and his solo smash ‘Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart’ (featuring Gene Pitney) plus a further seven Top 10 singles and five Top 10 albums.
We managed to grab Lancashire lad Marc Almond for a quick chat…
What is Hollywood Forever about?
‘Hollywood Forever’ is a suicide song about a lost golden age named after the famous Hollywood cemetery to the stars – it is about unemotional, fetishistic love, a cold sociopathic beauty. All but beauty is meaningless and without it we are nothing and we don’t matter in a wider picture – isn’t that the quote?
How was shooting the accompanying short film?
I worked with Charlie Max, a fantastic young director, in Los Angeles. She was brilliant to work with and I am really pleased with the outcome of the movie. I hope she becomes a star… because she deserves to be.
How was collaborating with Chris Braide and Ian Anderson on the album?
It was fantastic to have Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and his unmistakable flute sound. It’s probably fair to say that I wrote ‘Lord of Misrule’ especially with Ian in mind as I’ve always thought there was a touch of pagan mischief about him. It’s a kind of alternative Christmas song.
Chris Braide and I started writing songs for ‘Chaos And A Dancing Star’ (our follow-up album to ‘The Velvet Trail’) three years ago. I record vocals in a studio in London and send them to LA for Chris to work his musical magic on.
How has your writing changed or developed since the 80s/Soft Cell?
“I have always enjoyed singing, writing and performing an eclectic mix of music and have been lucky enough to do so over the course of my career so far. You’re always developing and growing as an artist because things, people and places are constantly changing around you.”
Soft Cell’s goodbye performance at the 02 Arena in London in September 2018 was a very special night. And receiving an OBE from Prince William was a real ‘pinch me’ moment.
What are you planning for the next decade?
Possibly some more writing with Dave Ball for Soft Cell. I created an opera with Jeremy Reed and Othon called ‘Against Nature’ which has just been commissioned by the Barbican for 2021.
Favourite place in the north?
Southport. It’s my hometown and holds many memories.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Lancashire or Yorkshire?
Ketchup or Brown sauce?
Heaven or Hell?
Lancashire hotpot or Yorkshire pudding?