Reminiscing the Eighties with Go West vocalist and songwriter Peter Cox ahead of 2020 UK tour

Hitting the road on a double bill UK tour in 2020, two heavyweight chart toppers from the ‘80s Go West and Paul Young will be performing all their hits on a bumper bill of nostalgic pop! I have caught up with Peter Cox of the band Go West to reminisce the Eighties.

Celebrating 35 years, Go West were one of the most successful singer/songwriter duos of the ‘80s. Formed in 1982 by Peter and Richard Drummie, with Cox as lead singer and Drummie on guitar and backing vocals they produced hits such as ‘We Close Our Eyes’, ‘Call Me’ and “Don’t Look Down’. Go West were voted ‘Best Newcomer’ at the 1986 Brit Awards. In 1990 their track ‘King of Wishful Thinking’ featured on the hugely successful soundtrack for the blockbuster smash Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts & Richard Gere.

Monica Costa (MC): In 2020 you’ll tour the UK with Paul Young. Pop icons of the ‘80s are back for what looks like a never ending ’80s revival. The popularity of music from the decade hasn’t waned in recent years. Why do you think ‘80s music is more popular than ever before? 

Peter Cox (PC): Well, I’m bound to say that I hope it’s because the songs had stood the test time. I’m a songwriter and responsible for most of the songs that Go West have recorded, but I think every era has a generation that grew up with that music and thankfully the people who grew up in the ’80s, maybe they’ve had their children, and the children have grown up, and left the house, and those people want to hear the music that they grew up with, that they fell in love to for the first time.

MC: I really love this ’80s revival and, for me, it can continue forever.

PC: Well, it’s been going on longer than the ’80s, as you said yourself. So, yeah, we keep our fingers crossed.

MC: What do you miss from the ’80s? I mean music-wise, or the audiences, the tour, the fashion even, or the music industry in general. Is there anything in particular?

PC: I miss the days before social media when life just… I mean, I understand that even as I say it, but it’s an older person’s point of view. But when you look back, I think, do you not find yourself and life to be simpler once upon a time?

MC:            Oh, it was so good, wasn’t it?

PC:            Yeah, yeah.

MC:            We have lived that wonderful decade. Are you familiar with Stranger Things, the series on Netflix?

PC:            I saw series one, yes.

MC: My son is 13 and loves it but he calls the ‘80s the Aztec’s time, because it’s before social media. Somehow, he seems to enjoy it so much. He doesn’t even know why. But I explained to him that back then people really talked to others face-to-face and they listened to records the old-fashioned way. It seems so simple, but yet so lovely. The simplicity of it…

PC:            Absolutely. And, of course, everything soon changed. Stranger Things has an ’80s soundtrack too. So your son is being exposed to music from 30, 40 years ago.

MC: Which is also the music of my teenage years. I still have the records. I’ve interviewed lots of musicians from the ‘80s, my pop idols including Paul Young twice. He’s the sweetest guy in pop music ever. How did your tour partnership come about? 

PC: It is a commercial practicality that if you have two artists or bands from an era together in a show, that will appeal to the audience of Paul Young and the audience of Go West and hopefully sell more tickets. So that’s why I’m part of it. I didn’t know Paul in the ’80s, I got to know him more now, because of the ’80s revival and we definitely share a love of music of a certain era, the Motown era, that kind of soul. So hopefully it will be a good combination.

MC: I’m sure it will be smashing. Out of all your hit songs – you had quite a few – which one is your favourite and why?

PC:            When we finally, after years of trying, got a record deal, the song that got us through the door was a song called Call Me. And that was the song that our label felt was the single, the one that might be successful for us, but they didn’t want to put it out as the first song from our debut album. So they asked Richard and me which of the other songs we would choose, and we chose a song called We Close Our Eyes and that became our most successful single from that album. So even though the King of Wishful Thinking is the song that probably keeps us working, even now, because of the film Pretty Woman, and the fact that almost every woman in the world has seen that film, I would still say that We Close Our Eyes was a favourite of mine.

MC:            Well, it’s a fantastic song with an enormous energy and rhythm and you can’t simply stay still. Out of other songs that you have written and I like What You Won’t Do For Love which was also the soundtrack of my teenage years. It’s not one of the most famous ones, but it’s one of my favourite ones, for some reason. It’s a really sweet song and I keep playing it even today.

PC:            Thank you very much.

MC: How do you prepare for a gig? Do you have any particular routine or ritual? Is it the same you have always done in the ‘80s or different? 

PC:            Oh no, it’s definitely different now, because I have had the experience of losing my voice on a tour and at the time I was working with another ’80s act called Hue and Cry. I’m not sure if you might be familiar with them. The singer in Hue and Cry (him and his brother), stopped working for six years, I believe, because Pat lost his voice. And so when I lost my voice, I was on the road with Pat and I said, “What did you do to bring your voice back, and what can I be doing now?” And he put me in touch with a vocal coach and not that I saw her very often, I only saw her once, because we were on the tour at the time. But she gave me a CD of vocal exercises, which I still do now before every gig. I warm up and some extent I warm down, although I’m a bit less disciplined about that after the show. I always, always, always warm up for 20 minutes beforehand, partly to be as ready to go as I can be when I go on stage and partly because I can’t take my voice for granted the way I did when I was younger. But for the most part it still seems to be operational and I haven’t lost my voice since that occasion. So hopefully I’m doing some of the right things.

MC: What’s the CD called, because I might use it too. I sing in an amateur rock band called Devil Soul.

PC:            Oh, really?

MC: I’ve had some vocal coaching and my vocal coach told me to do some warm up exercises, but I bet your CD would be good for me too.

PC:            The coach’s name is Jo Thompson. The CD is called Finding Your Voice.

MC:            Has your opinion on ‘80s music changed over the years? I mean there’s always been like a bit of a mixed feeling about that, some thought it was a bit too easy. It helped people have a good time and feel good about themselves.

PC:   Well, I think that because I know some of the artists from that era now, because they are kind of my friends. I think that has an effect on how you feel about a person’s music. You tend to make more allowances or whatever. I’m not including Paul in this, because I think Paul has a way of singing, which is not included, but there was a certain male vocal style in the ’80s which wasn’t my personal taste. I don’t know how to describe it really, but it was not particularly soulful. The music that I loved was soul and that was my influence. That’s what I try to put into what we do as Go West. As with any other era, there were things I liked and there were things I didn’t like so much. Like everybody else, you just gravitate to the things that you like.

MC: Recently there has been a little bit of an extra revival of your King of Wishful Thinking with the Paul Rudd and Jimmy Fallon’s shot-for-shot recreation of your video for The Tonight Show. That’s a really great promo for your music. Don’t you think?

PC:   Of course. Absolutely. My manager was on the phone straight away saying, “Text them, text them, get on the show,” as if that was ever going to happen. But, as you say, it was great and they did a fantastic job. I’m sure that part of what attracted them to recreate the video was that the video made no sense whatsoever. It was just a crazy pop promo. I did, in fact, say something on Twitter about the fact that the video had been made with love, because I think to go to that much trouble you’ve got to have a little bit of love for the thing. Jimmy Fallon did text back saying, “Absolutely,” or something like that.

MC:            After the 2020 tour, will you produce new music? That would be really nice. And maybe more soundtracks for movies or I don’t know. Is there anything in the pipeline?

PC:            Well, you need to be invited, really, to be incorporated into the soundtrack of a movie. Of course, we are open to that possibility. But we need an invitation and I think obviously it’s likely that, unless it was a specific era, they’ll probably… Oh, actually, now I say that, we did have a song on the soundtrack of  the movie Eddie the Eagle called Fly, recently. We wrote a song with Gary Barlow for that soundtrack. The song is called Determination.

MC: But you also had one song in Rocky IV called One Way Street.

PC:            Yes, we did.

MC: I love that song, because I had the soundtrack. It was a Christmas present many moons ago. I don’t even remember the year. And I listened to the tape. It wasn’t even a CD. It was a tape. So I still remember that song. I didn’t even know it was yours to be honest. I only, when I listened to that… Tell me more about the process of writing a movie soundtrack. Do you need to get invited to be writing?

PC: Yeah. It’s less likely to happen if you’re knocking on the door saying, “We have a song, will you put it in your film?” It’s much more of a question of a film’s musical supervisors saying, “Wouldn’t be good if we had this?”

MC:            Is that what happened with the King of Wishful Thinking and the One Way Street?

PC:            Yes. Well, with One Way Street, because Sylvester Stallone himself, because he is such a hands-on guy in every aspect of making a film, right down to the music and the songs. And he had heard something that we had done, and he obviously liked it, so he contacted our management and said, “I’m making a film and I would like to have a song by Go West in it. So we had One Way Street, and we sent it to him, and he liked it, and then he invited us to record another song, which he had for that soundtrack. But, if I’m honest, I wasn’t crazy about that song, and we did record it, but when it was finished they could hear in my vocal performance that I didn’t like the song, so they got someone else to record it, and it went on the album by another artist. But we did still get One Way Street on the album, which was the best result, really, for us.

And then with the King of Wishful Thinking, Touchstone, I think it is, the Disney film company that made the Pretty Woman film, came to EMI America but they weren’t asking for songs that were written specifically for the film. They liked an album featuring all the artists that were on their label at the time, including Roxette, David Bowie, and Robert Palmer. We were lucky, because we were low down on the ladder of profile of the artists that were involved. But we did have a very commercial song and because of that, we got promoted. Robert Palmer’s Life in Detail was the song that he contributed to the album. I’m sure that the label was hoping for Addicted to Love part two, but that’s not what they got. In the end, they put out the King of Wishful Thinking as a single, because they thought it was a more commercial song.

MC: This is incredibly fascinating, Peter. Thank you for these great insights.

Go West gigs in April 2020

April 4th 2020 – Rose Theatre, Kingston on Thames. 

April 5th 2020 – Westlands, Yeovil 

Tickets via http://www.gowest.org.uk/tour.htm

 

GO WEST & PAUL YOUNG UK TOUR DATES 2020 

11th Sept             The Sage,                     Gateshead

12th Sept             Pavilion,                       Glasgow

13th Sept             Barbican,                      York

15th Sept             De Montfort Hall,          Leicester

16th Sept             Regent Theatre,           Ipswich

18th Sept             Winter Gardens,           Margate

19th Sept             The Anvil,                     Basingstoke

20th Sept             Waterside Theatre,       Aylesbury

22nd Sept            The Forum,                            Bath

23rd Sept             White Rock Theatre,     Hastings

 

Tickets here: https://nvite.com/community/gowestandpaulyoung

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