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Marc Almond reaches out to a new audience

FIVE years after a motorbike accident quite literally "turned his life upside down", Southport-born Eighties pop star Marc Almond is back in business.

Marc Almond _460

FIVE years after a motorbike accident quite literally "turned his life upside down", Southport-born Eighties pop star Marc Almond is back in business.

About to start a solo UK tour, the 52-year-old feels like he has finally put the horrifying collision – which put him in intensive care – behind him, and is looking forward to celebrating 30 years in the music industry next year.

A natural survivor, Almond used skills he learned early on to fight his way back to health. "I’ve had a lot of battles in my life ever since I was a kid at school," Almond explains.

"My younger life damaged me in some ways, but it made me, too."

Before the crash, the singer, who co-founded pioneering eighties synth duo Soft Cell, had already faced a nervous breakdown, drug addiction and going deaf in one ear.

But it was the collision in 2004, in which he suffered life- threatening head injuries (rumours circulated that he’d actually died), that looked like it would finish Almond’s career for good.

Riding pillion on a friend’s motorbike past St Paul’s Cathedral, they collided with a car. Marc fractured his skull in two places, shattered his right shoulder, perforated his eardrum and suffered a collapsed lung. He also suffered two massive blood clots and had to undergo emergency surgery twice.

"I’ve had various problems throughout my life and I’ve had to overcome them. It’s battered and bruised me a bit but I’ve been lucky to put my problems back into creativity," he says, philosophically.

Finally making it back on stage two years ago – he found himself fighting back tears when he played Shepherds Bush Empire in 2007, his first gig after his motorbike crash.

Later that year, he brought the house down performing for Yves Saint Laurent at the massive Fashion Rocks event at the Royal Albert Hall before embarking on a Almond took on a 78-date tour with good friend Jools Holland in 2008.

Now there is no stopping the ex-King George V pupil. He is set to release a new album called Orpheus In Exile at the beginning of next month, and is also planning to put out another album next year, plus there’s a tour starting in October.

"It’s a collection of gipsy romance torch ballads," he says of his latest work.

"It’s a really nice side project from the main album, which is the one out next May. I recorded and financed this one myself in Russia with a Russian orchestra and musicians.

"All the songs are by a Russian gipsy singer called Vadim Kozin. He had a very interesting and sad life. He was adored by the Russian public and was Stalin’s favourite singer until one day he refused to write a song for the dictator. Stalin sent him straight to a concentration camp on charges of homosexuality.

"So this album is covers of his songs. It’s a very beautiful and touching record."

For those more familiar with Almond’s synthpop style, the album may come as a bit of a surprise. "I guess, if I was to classify this, I’d say it’s a ‘world music record’," Almond states.

But those who have kept a closer eye on Almond’s career will have noticed he left his synthesiser days behind long ago.

In the last two decades, the Birkdale boy has released electronica, northern soul and disco records, as well another Russian album – Heart On Snow in 2003.

Given the current wave of Eighties-inspired music, has Almond considered capitalising on the trend and returning to his original style of music? Apparently not.

"I haven’t really noticed the music scene, to be honest. I’m aware of all the people like Little Boots and La Roux, and while it’s interesting what these bands are doing now with electro, it’s somewhere I’ve already been.

"It’s funny because I can hear how the Eighties has influenced some of the new artists and probably some of them weren’t even born then! I don’t need to revisit it – I’ve already got the T-shirt, the mug and the triple album!"

Instead of electro beats, Almond spends his time listening to the subtle sounds of Fleet Foxes and Bat For Lashes, but he does admit: "I like experimental music, too, perhaps I’ll put my voice to an underground electro record just to keep a foot in that direction."

Almond is pleased to leave today’s charts to the new batch of pop stars and continue on his own route, away from pop music.

"I don’t envy bands coming along now – it’s a lot harder. Bands come along and have a very short shelf life. They have one great amazing album and burn very brightly for a short amount of time, and then they disappear and their place has been taken by the newer version of them.

"I’m glad I came out of pop music when I did, because it has enabled me as an artist to have a longer career. When I set out, if you had a couple of flop singles or your album didn’t do so well, you were still encouraged by your record company to do another one.

"Now you also have to compete with all the reality shows, which at times can end up taking over half the charts. I’m glad I left all of that behind. It’s not part of my life any more," Almond states.

But, if you’re thinking of going to one of Almond’s gigs and fear it will be filled solely with new material, there’s no need to worry.

"I always want to please the audience at live shows. So I’ll do a couple of obscure ones which I like and, of course, the classics for the audience. It’s like the wedding thing – I’ll do something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue." Considering the hard slog Almond has had in both music and life, many might wonder why he hasn’t decided to retire.

"Sometimes I relish a battle because it’s something to beat. I always look at life as a series of battles that you have to fight and try to come out on top of. It’s important for me to be positive about life!

"I’ve really enjoyed the way my career has gone – the ups and downs have all been a part of it."

MARC ALMOND starts his UK tour at the end of October. For further information, visit www.marcalmond.co.uk

 

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