Tony Hadley, singer-songwriter, chats with Kevin Cooper about spending time in the jungle, the release of his Christmas album, touring with The Southbank Sinfonia and his forthcoming appearance at The Newark Festival on 18th June
Tony Hadley is an English pop singer-songwriter, occasional stage actor and radio presenter who first rose to fame in the 1980s as the lead singer of the new wave band Spandau Ballet. After the group disbanded in 1989, and after an acrimonious court case, the band reformed in 2009 to great acclaim.
Busy on the festival circuit, Hadley also performs as a solo artist. As well as working as a radio presenter, he has toured with a full orchestra and will be doing this again later this year.
Taking time out from his busy schedule, he had a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.
Hi Tony how are you today?
I’m alright thanks Kevin, as always my life is crazy but I’m alright. Nothing ever changes mate I tell you (laughter). I’m just about getting used to it now as it is always like this (laughter). So how are things with you, is everything alright?
All is fine thanks and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.
That’s alright, no worries I’m always happy to speak to you.
I know that you have said that life is crazy but just how is life treating you at this moment in time?
Life is pretty cool. I am always kind of busy really with various projects, albums and recently I have also been involved with the Eddie The Eagle album as well. So things have been really good actually. And then from May onwards I am just chock a block with festivals which is what I love. I’m also doing a lot of things all around the world which is fantastic. I have to pinch myself every now and again and I think wow I am still doing this and I am still loving it. I have been and still am very lucky indeed.
You have mentioned festivals; you are headlining The Newark Festival on the 18th June. Are you all geared up and ready to go?
Yes I am geared up actually. I will be in Italy next week recording and also I have got a show with my band and I have to say that we are always ready; we are always poised. The great thing about festivals as I have probably said before is that it is such a great vibe, a great celebration and the people are there simply to enjoy themselves and to have some fun.
Are you looking forward to meeting up with Midge (Ure) once again?
Yes I am, actually, I really am as Midge is a great bloke both as a musician and also as a friend. So we have got Midge, some Bananas and St. Martin (laughter). The thing is that you have got lots of great acts and great musicians and I think that we pride ourselves in the fact that we are good at what we do. We love what we do but we also try to be the very best at what we do and I think that comes across when we are playing.
What I find great at festivals is to see the younger kids coming along with their parents and having a great time.
I totally agree. That was the main reason that I signed up for I’m A Celebrity in the jungle. I wanted to try to let the younger kids know just who Tony Hadley was. They all know the song Gold but now they say ‘so you’re the guy that sings Gold and True’ (laughter). Everywhere that I am going loads of young kids are shaking my hand and saying that it’s great to meet me. It really is a very nice feeling.
The last time that I saw you performing outdoors here in Nottingham you almost caused a riot by singing Duran Duran songs. I do hope that you will behave this time (laughter).
(Laughter) that’s right Kevin, I did, I remember it very well. I have to be honest with you and tell you that I have always been a big fan of Duran Duran. I know that some people might find that hard to believe but we were always great friends with them and I have always loved the band and I have always loved their music. I have even got a copy of their new album (laughter). They made some good stuff and I have always liked the fact that they have always been quite experimental. I just thought ‘why not do a Duran Duran song’. I knew that it would ruffle a few feathers but I decided to do Rio as it is one of my favourite songs; it’s a great album and a great song.
Talking about your other job for a minute, how was the Spandau Ballet reunion, did you enjoy it?
We had a really good time. The film Soulboys Of The Western World was good, in fact I personally think that it was a fascinating documentary. I found it really interesting. So that was good fun. The tour was great, it was successful and we played all the arenas around the world as you do. We finished the tour seven months ago in Hong Kong and literally the week after I had finished I was back out on the road with my own band playing a gig in Dubai on the beach (laughter). So I literally went from Spandau to being a solo artist once again and that’s what I am; I am essentially a solo artist who has dipped into Spandau Ballet on a couple of times, so yes, that’s kind of it.
So having said all of that do you have any plans to dip back into Spandau Ballet anytime soon?
Not at the moment, no.
So what are you going to be doing this year other than touring?
Good question (laughter). I have got to go to Italy to record a couple of new songs and also finish recording my Christmas album. I am also working on an orchestral album this year and record a new solo album which should be out in either February or March of next year. The trouble is that I keep on writing new songs for it, that’s the bloody problem (laughter).
You released a Christmas album last year which received some rave reviews. Were you happy with it?
Yes I was actually. I actually recorded it in the middle of the Spandau Ballet Reunion Tour and I would jet off to Milan to record it. I was really happy with the album but the powers that be want me to record a couple of new tracks for the album and so that is why I am heading over to Italy next week. The record company want to put it out again with a couple of fresh tracks and the thing was that I wasn’t in the UK to be able to do any promotion or anything like that. I literally went straight from the jungle to tour Italy and do some TV in Holland. There was no chance for me to ever do any promotion whatsoever for the album over Christmas time in the UK.
In America I was asked to turn on the Christmas lights at The Rockefeller Centre in New York which is a real honour, and I had to say no. So they now want me to do promotion in the UK, America, Australia and places like that. So I am going to tart the album up a little bit and then it will be out again. Christmas albums are out there all of the time and it has done quite well actually. I was quite pleased and happy.
You have briefly mentioned I’m A Celebrity. What was the rationale behind you doing that?
I have spent time in the jungle before and I absolutely loved it. However the main reason for me doing I’m A Celebrity was that after spending a year and a half once again in Spandau Ballet it enabled me to put me, Tony Hadley back out there and back on the map. It now means that whenever anyone sees me they can say oh wow that’s Tony Hadley. It did exactly what I wanted it to do. I had been asked to do I’m A Celebrity so many times and I simply felt that this time was the right time.
Would you ever consider going back into the jungle if you were asked again?
Yes Kevin most definitely. I have already been through the Costa Rican jungle. We did that with a sixty pound pack on our backs for about two weeks. So I have done proper jungle trekking before. I absolutely loved it (laughter). Everyone who I speak to always mentions that woman but regardless of her I do actually enjoy being in the jungle. It’s exciting, it’s amazing, and the sounds, the smells; it is quite simply a fascinating place to be. I think that a lot of people think that at 9 o’clock you get a pizza, a bottle of champagne and you go back to your hotel.
Let me tell you it is real. If the fire goes out you have no drinking water as you have to boil every bit of drinking water. If you have not got a fire then you don’t eat. It is also very physical in there, with the heat and the humidity. It really is tough but I absolutely loved it. I am thinking of going back and doing ITV2 and hopefully at the same time I will be touring Australia with the symphony orchestra later on this year.
If it was within your power, who would you like to send into the jungle?
(Laughter) probably my next door neighbour.
It sounds as though you really did enjoy your time spent in the jungle?
I know that it sounds really weird but I’ve done treks, I have done Machu Picchu, I have done Venezuela and I have also spent time in the jungle in Costa Rica and there are an awful lot of people who have asked since then ‘is it really like that’ and the simple answer is yes, it’s real. They then tell me that they couldn’t do that in a million years. You have to remember that you have no communications, no alcohol, no sugar, the food is rationed, you have to boil your drinking water, it is real. Plus you have got to eat some really weird stuff (laughter) like possum. Until the jungle I had never eaten possum.
You have to eat kangaroo, wallaby, crocodile tail, and crocodile legs. I had to eat crocodile legs and let me tell you they were pretty disgusting (laughter). This may sound really weird but I really did enjoy it, it was fun stuff.
You have recently announced three orchestral shows for October where you will be once again joined on stage by the Southbank Sinfonia. What can we expect?
That’s right, I will be playing just three shows this year; The Royal Albert Hall in London, The Birmingham Symphony Hall and The Pavilion in Southend and the truth of the matter is that I simply love working with orchestras. The late great Sir George Martin was my first real experience when I worked with the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Since then I have worked with Alice Cooper, James Brown, Joe Cocker, all with orchestras over in Europe and South America and I have to say that as a singer it is probably one of the most brilliant experiences.
You have got to be very disciplined but the nuance’s that you get with an orchestra literally interpreting your songs is amazing. It is a great experience. So me out there with a beautiful orchestra in October, it is all going to be good.
The last time that we spoke you were getting ready to fly out to Egypt to perform at Soho Square in Sharm El Sheikh. How was that?
Oh god that was amazing. It was fantastic because I was able to take the family over with me. We were so well looked after over there. I still pinch myself as I am a very luck boy. We had a beautiful villa with our own pool which overlooked the beach (laughter). They even offered me a butler but I told them that was not really my style (laughter). I literally had a butler on twenty-four hour call but to be honest I never used either him or her. But I have to say that they looked after us so well; myself and Bonnie Tyler, we had a great time over in Sharm El Sheikh.
They asked me to do it again with my band but as you know there was that terrible tragedy and I really do feel for the Egyptian people because they were so hospitable and so friendly, it was brilliant. My wife and children absolutely loved it. It is a terrible shame what is happening in the world, and there are just so many beautiful places that you can’t go to anymore. It’s terrible Kevin.
Did you manage to get any diving done whilst you were over there?
Well to be honest my little daughter Zara is a great snorkeler and the fish are literally there, so you don’t have to scuba dive in order to see all of the beautiful fish; it is amazing, it’s incredible. So Zara is my little Buddy whenever I go into the water. Me and her were snorkelling all over the place.
I have to ask where you stand on the In or Out campaign but I’m not talking about the European Union; I’m speaking about Arsène Wenger as I know that you are a massive Gooner?
Oh god he is most definitely in. Football fans are so bloody fickle, in fact most of them are crazy. Do you want to go through one of those bloody awful transitional periods where you have got a manager, you haven’t got a manager, the manager doesn’t work out so after a year you sack him; it is just crazy. You can see exactly that happening at loads and loads of clubs who all think that they could do better and it just doesn’t work. So from my point of view I think that Arsène Wenger has done a great job. If he gets us into Europe again this year then wow that’s cool.
We are the only club in the Premiership who haven’t got a huge debt. I think that we are playing great football. We sometimes run out of steam at the end of the season but then again we are doing ok. I have met Arsène Wenger a number of times and let me tell you, he is a good guy, a dedicated guy, he is a real clever man and I most definitely would not be getting rid of him. You only have to look at what is happening at Aston Villa. It’s crazy and god knows what is going to happen at Chelsea next season (laughter).
That seems like a good point on which to end so I will just say thank you for taking the time to speak to me today and good luck with everything.
Okay you take care Kevin and I will see you at one of the shows. Bye for now.