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Interview:
Heritage aside, Howard Jones is still looking for a "New Song"
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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His biggest hits were back in the 80s, but Howard Jones remains as creative now as he ever was.

The British singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist -- best known for synth-pop tracks such as "New Song," "What Is Love?," "Things Can Only Get Better" and "Pearl in the Shell" -- released a new project called "Engage" last year. It's the first of an ambitious four-part, performance-based series he plans to roll out during the next year and a half or so.

But as one of the support acts on Barenaked Ladies Last Summer on Earth tour this year, Jones knows there's not a great deal of room for new music.

"In situations like this I just think, 'What do people want me to play?'" Jones, 61, says by phone from St. Louis. "Obviously on my own dates I'm playing brand new material and stuff from my whole career, but (with BNL) I've got 40 minutes, so I've got to play the hits, really.

"But I'm constantly updating them as well. They're constantly changing, so they do feel fresh. And I'm very excited about playing with Barenaked Ladies. That's going to be a different audience, so I'm looking forward to that."

It's also a big year for one of Jones' major hits -- the 30th anniversary of "No One Is To Blame," a collaboration with Phil Collins that was Jones' biggest hit -- No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- in the U.S.

"It was a great coming together when I made that record with him," Jones recalls. "He was doing a Genesis album at the time but had his weekend free, and he didn't want to have any time on his hands so we fitted 'No One Is To Blame' into two weekends and it just happened so quickly.

"I wasn't thinking, 'Oh, Phil Collins is involved, so it's bound to be massive!' It was just so great to work with an amazing musician. And I like him as a person; He's such a gregarious, warm person. So that's how I felt working on it. It wasn't like I knew it was going to become the big hit it was, you know?"

Last Summer On Earth with Barenaked Ladies, Howard Jones and OMD

7 p.m. Friday, June 10.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

Tickets are $28.50-$68.50 pavilion, $25 lawn.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.


Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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