He may have lost the big hair, but Howard Jones has lost none of his passion for music.
“I still really love to play live and I’m touring constantly,” he says on the phone from England. “As long as I can get up on stage, I’ll be doing it,” he laughs.
“It really is good for me because I have this heritage of hit songs that people know and it’s such a pleasure then to play them for people so they can join in, sing along, and recall a part of their life with the songs.”
Those songs include ‘What Is Love’, ‘New Song’, and ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, which saw Jones top the charts during the mid-’80s — and live on in peoples’ memories.
“The music that we grow up with in our teen years is very important to us and it sticks with you your whole life,” he says, humbly, of his music’s ongoing popularity.
But surely, after almost 30 years of performing his classic hits, he must be getting tired of hearing them himself.
“It’s actually impossible to get bored when you’re in front of an audience and they’re loving it and singing along,” Jones offers. “It’s one of the nicest feelings you can have.
“Obviously, when I’m rehearsing them at home I get sick of them,” he confesses with a chuckle, “but when you’re up on that stage and making contact with the wonderful people it’s a total joy.”
In the past he’s shaken things up to keep the music fresh for himself — but right now he’s doing his best to recreate his classic sound.
“At different times during my 30 years of doing this, I’ve performed the songs in all sorts of different ways — with brass sections, with string sections, with backing vocalists, I’ve done them acoustically. I’ve really experimented with those songs but at the moment I’m playing them in the most authentic way that I can.”
Technology has certainly helped his cause.
“My career has been littered with disasters of various things breaking down,” he laughs, “but the latest stuff I’m using is so reliable it really has changed in the way that, even though you’re using quite a lot of technology, it does tend to work.
“It’s very rare now that we get breakdowns — but maybe I’m tempting fate by saying that,” he laughs again.
But Jones is an eternal optimist — just listen to his lyrics which, since debut single ‘New Song’, have encouraged people to follow their dreams.
“I’ve been very fortunate to live a life where I’ve been able to write the script and to decide how I want things to go. That feeling has been very important to me so I do try to put that back into the lyrics. Everybody has a unique ability and talent and it’s important for everybody to find out what that is in their life and to really manifest that.”
For Jones it was obviously music, which led him into the competitive world of ’80s pop.
“I never felt any kind of rivalry,” he says, thinking back to his breakthrough years. “People in the press and record companies like to promote that kind of thing, but I was just absolutely grateful to be there. I’d been dreaming about doing this since I was a small child and to be in that position was just fine.
“And I think that as the years have gone by, we’ve got to know each other better and we hang out at these events and you get to chat and talk about our families and connect on a very human level and we know each other now better than we ever did.
“And there’s a lot of camaraderie between us because we’re from a similar era and we’ve been through the same things, and we’re still standing.”
- This article originally appeared on EntertainmentAfrica.com. (Image: David Conn/howardjones.com)