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Wang Chung/Abducted by the 80s, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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The Covid-19 pandemic has been difficult for everybody. But Wang Chung wants to make sure people do have some fun this weekend.

The British group known for its 80s hits "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and "Dance Hall Days" will be part of "Back to the Basement," a virtual festival taking place Saturday, June 13, with peer bands such as A Flock of Seagulls, Naked Eyes, Nelson, Cutting Crew, Nu Shooz and more. The show catches Wang Chung 40 years after it formed and on a rare summer break from the road.

But Jack Hues says both he and the group have something new to offer from quarantine...

Wang Chung recently teamed with Nu Shooz singer Valerie Day for a revamp of its biggest hit, retitled, appropriately, "Everybody Stay Safe Tonight." "We've sort of re-recorded all the vocals and stuff," Hues, 65 (real name Jeremy Ryder) says by phone from England. "There's a lot of negatives floating around at the moment, aren't there? 'Everybody Have Fun Tonight' has always been an up, party sort of song, so it seemed like maybe doing it this way would be a good thing to balance some of the more serious issues that definitely need addressing."

While Wang Chung has been part of 80s-oriented package tours during recent summers, this year it was planning to "do some more specialized gigs" and was also working with the company Abducted by the 80's, which is producing Back to the Basement, on another package that Hues says "would feature us and some bands that we felt good about. Everything hopefully will get kicked into next year," Hues says. "We'll just rerun 2020 in 2021. I hope we can do it that way."

While Wang Chung hasn't produced much in the way of new material since 2012 (last year's "Orchesography" featured orchestral versions of old material) Hues chalks up its enduring appeal to starting at the right time. "I think the allegiance people had to bands in the 80s was very strong, which is why they still come out to see those bands. With the rise of the Internet, computers and stuff, music became something else, and its relationship with its audience changed. The commitment to one band isn't like it used to be."

As for Wang Chung turning 40, Hues says that, "It's kind of remarkable in a sense that the legacy, as it were, becomes more and more significant. Certainly I value it more and more. Sometimes when it's your work and people say, 'That's an amazing thing' you're like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah...' but getting older, you do look back with a lot more warmth and affection. It's a good feeling."

Hues released a new solo album this year, "Primitif," but the highlight of his quarantine so far came from somebody else playing music."I have a grandson. I bought him a piano and he started to take lessons online. I was with him this morning, listening to him play a little C major arpeggio with his left hand and he's 5 1/2 years old! I felt, 'Yes! He's on the journey!' That was probably the most exciting music experience I've had in a long time."

Back to the Basement streams at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, June 13, via YouTube and Facebook. Proceeds benefit Direct Relief for front-line health-care workers. abudcutedbythe80s.com.

Web Site: www.abductedbythe80s.com

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