It’s been four years since Erasure released an album of new material as out singer Andy Bell and keyboardist/songwriter Vince Clarke have been busy with solo efforts and side projects. But that time away seems to have found the group coming back stronger than ever if the big celebratory sound of “Tomorrow’s World” is any indication. “Tomorrow’s World,” the duo’s 14th studio album, was produced by Vincent “Frankmusik” Frank, the British electro-pop wunderkind who’s only one year older than Erasure the band and whose remixes and collaborations include the likes of Lady Gaga and The Pet Shop Boys.
Fresh off a South American tour and with a North American tour set to commence any day now, Bell talked to PGN about the new album, Erasure’s enduring influence on pop music and their fans.
PGN: What did Frankmusik bring to the table as a producer, and did he come into the project as a fan?
AB: He was a fan. He said that his mum was a fan. He was born in 1986, just before “Circus” was coming out. I think that was one the influential albums for him as a musician. Obviously, he loves the analog synth sound, and he’s a fan of Vince’s. We wanted to work with him because he did a really amazing mix for us of “Phantom Bride” on the “Innocence” reissue. I was really pleased that we ended up working with Frank. He was my instinctive choice and the fan choice as well. He brought a lot of musicality to the record and changed lots of the songs from how they were in the beginning. To me, he feels like an electronic Phil Spector. It’s just layers and layers of stuff that makes it sound massive. Usually we sound quite minimal. He brought lots of energy and enthusiasm to the record.
PGN: What effect, if any, did your and Vince’s solo projects have on the new record?
AB: I feel like we’re craftspeople. When you’ve made something that feels like you’ve gone up a notch or pushed the envelope a bit, it obviously comes into your new work. Maybe not consciously but subconsciously on some level. It definitely influenced the new material.
PGN: Do you hear Erasure’s influence in a lot of mainstream pop performers today?
AB: You do hear bits. I can’t really tell if the DJs put them in there because things are so mixed up. There are so many thousand remixes of songs. But quite a lot I do hear essences of Erasure or Vince’s lines in there, which I’m not sure it’s the same because they used the same synthesizer or if they sampled the track. But definitely I do hear things in there.
PGN: When you go on tour do you find that younger audiences are discovering Erasure who might not have been around when you first started?
AB: Yes. We just came back from South America, and I was quite taken aback by the amount of young people there. They weren’t born when our first stuff came out and they seem to know the words by heart. I think it’s quite nice because we’re not particularly mainstream or top 40. People tend to, if they feel like they’ve discovered you on their own, they take you to their heart much more. They’re going to fight for you. It’s the same way I feel about a band like the B-52s or Blondie. Especially the B-52s, they’re quite underground and have a few breakthrough hits. And someone like Bjork as well.
PGN: Why do you think Erasure has endured for 25 years?
AB: Vince always says that it’s because we write on guitar and piano and always make sure there’s a really strong song underneath. Synthesizers are only a tool for creating the music so lots of dance records are created with synths using a lot of hooks. With ours, we make sure there’s a tune underneath, which can be seen as old fashioned, but in the long run it keeps you a coverable band.
Erasure performs 8 p.m. Sept. 8 at TLA, 334 South St. For more information or tickets, visit www.erasureinfo.com or call 215-922-1011.