The Fixx / Liz Linder
The British band the Fixx is somewhat of a rare breed these days compared to its contemporaries from the '80s MTV era of pop music in terms of making music after three decades with virtually the same classic lineup intact -- one that crafted such hit singles as "One Things Lead to Another," "Red Skies," "Stand or Fall," "Saved by Zero" and "Secret Separation." As singer and lyricist, Cy Curnin, tells CBSNews.com, a deep friendship within the band accounts for the Fixx's longevity.
"We'd grown up together, we have similar backgrounds, we have similar interests," he says. "There's not any real major ego in the band...there's no big dogmatic person who says, 'I have to win this, I have to control that.' The one thing that is for sure we always say to ourselves is that if we got into this band because of the money, we would have never start it. Because when we first started it, there was no money in it. We did it for the passion, we did it for the love, we did it for the cathartic relief. So now after the big industry and the big cash and everything else has faded, we're still doing it for the original reason, which is the love of music."
More than 30 years after the release of its first album, "Shuttered Room," the Fixx -- whose members are Curnin, Rupert Greenall, Adam Woods, Dan Brown, and Jamie West-Oram -- continues to be an active recording band. Last year, the Fixx released its first new album in nearly 10 years, "Beautiful Friction," as well as toured. "It was good to be back on the map in terms of a release out," says Curnin, "so we were getting press not only on the live front but the record side, and that felt good. It was three years in the making [of] the record, so it was nice to get it out and about. It was very well-received, which is also a good thing. It's nice to know we're moving in the right direction in our careers, not backwards."
Despite the long gap between studio albums, "Beautiful Friction" sounds as if time hadn't stopped with the band. "We just play naturally as a group of five people," says Curnin. "The sound we make and the passion that we have with each other when we're playing have been a constant. We're still going strong with still plenty of material to inspire us."
Some of the material on "Beautiful Friction" was inspired by current events, as indicated on the opening cut, "Anyone Else," which was accompanied by a striking video. "There were lots of things going on in the last couple of years about the Occupy movement, WikiLeaks, the banking scandals, everyone pointing the finger," says Curnin, and then adds: "We think democracy is a little X on a piece of paper, and then you voted, and that's it, you've done your piece, there's no engagement. I started thinking about what it is to be an accountable human being, [being] responsible to yourself, your children, to your neighbors -- to people who count on you to being an active, law abiding citizen if you like -- just not taking from society."
Complementing the full-on, passionate rockers on "Beautiful Friction" are subdued, reflective songs like "Small Thoughts" and "Something Ahead of You." Of the latter track, Curnin says it was a song that became the standard that the band members set for themselves. "In my head, it had to do with obstacles and how we built a world where the future seems to be so dark, because as much technology and as much as everything that we invented to improve our lives, it seems to make the moment more dissipated. We're more distracted and we're less confident about ourselves. And then at the very end of the song, I just twist it and ask the question, 'Is it too far ahead of all of us to really to talk about dark futures and the past is as ever good as gotten, now we're on the slow decline, who says who knows?'"
Certainly most people will associate the Fixx with the pop music scene of the '80s, a decade marked by excess and greed. But while the band's music was certainly catchy and danceable, it also had a political and social undercurrent, such as in a song like "Red Skies." "I guess we were just writing about the reaction of that excess and greed," says Curnin. "It's not just 'we party all the time.' It's not like we were browbeating and all we wanted to talk about was doom and gloom, but we definitely felt affected by the political mandate of the day.
This year also marks a special milestone for the band --- it's the 30th anniversary of the Fixx's second album, "Reach the Beach," which contains the band's biggest American hit, "One Thing Leads to Another." Again, the political atmosphere of the times played a role in the development of the song. "At the time, a politician had just been caught lying on public record and his career was over because of the way he set himself up for defeat," Curnin says of the song's origins. "The opening line of that song, 'The deception with tact, just what are you trying to say' -- it's a bit of a mouthful to say in a pop song. It was dealing with him lying, and if you're gonna lie, you better have a really good memory and remember all your lies -- and so careers have been made and paid for by truths and untruths. I felt I wrote that out of an automatic writing sense and I'll be the first person to say I didn't have half a clue as to what it was all about. I just felt the emotion of the track and today, I kind of go, 'Ah yeah, I see now.'"
The Fixx was one of numerous British bands from the early '80s who benefited from the exposure via music video through then-new cable network, MTV. "When they picked your song, you were across the country," Curnin recalls. "So all we had to do was go visit MTV studios and do an interview and then the next day you were all over the country. It was the first really big national radio station that was on a daily basis. Plus there was the curiosity factor with people going, 'Oh what are they gonna look like in their video today?' We came along behind, and I think the recognition factor of bands starting up, Because you were visible on TV, people recognized you a lot sooner in your career."
In addition to his duties as the Fixx's singer and lyricist, Curnin is working on his fourth solo album, titled "The Horse's Mouth," which is expected to come out sometime during this year. Meanwhile, the Fixx will continue to tour through this year. "It took three years to make ["Beautiful Friction"] and it would be a shame if we didn't promote it for as long," says Curnin. "On the back end we are starting to write new songs. At some point, we'll start recording. It's just a constant process, really."
As for "Beautiful Friction," Curnin calls it the band's strongest work. "I think we're just getting on top of our game. The good thing is that it's a lineage of where we were back then with 'Red Skies' and 'Stand or Fall' in 1981, to where we are when we released this record in 2012. It shows a very long road of our careers and it also shows that some of the things have changed stayed the same."