Stylish purveyors of pop for more than a decade, the Fixx has long provided the soundtrack for the people in black who borrow daddy's BMW to drive in style to their weekly haircut.
Although the band never underdresses for a show--you won't catch members in shorts or T-shirts--it isn't one of those fashion bands that give hair stylists credit on album sleeves.
The Fixx makes hook-filled, perfectly performed tunes dealing with Big Issues. Together since 1980, the English band hit it big in America (and MTV) in 1982 with its debut album, "Shuttered Room." It's been on a roll ever since, recently releasing its sixth album, "Ink." On Tuesday it will perform at the Ventura Theatre.
Fixx music gains its originality from guitarist Jamie West-Oram, who sounds like nobody else, and from droll vocals by front man Cy Curnin. The band's first two biggies in America, "Stand or Fall" and "Red Skies" (with its memorable chorus of "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh," which sounds a lot better than it reads), dealt with nuclear war, nationalism and like that.
Another favorite Fixx theme is love--getting it, losing it and wanting it. So if you've recently been left like a piece of parsley on a plate at a truck-stop diner, then perhaps Fixx music is for you.
It'll be worth the drive alone just to hear the band do "Secret Separation." If you're a little rusty at having fun, then you can get your musical kixx off the Fixx. Even if you're thirtysomething or beyond, watching "Roseanne" is a ridiculous option unless, of course, rock 'n' roll has passed you by. Trust me this time.
In a recent telephone interview, Curnin discussed the life and times of his band.
How's the tour, the album and all that?
It's going very well, and the summer is a very nice time to tour. Gregg Tripp, our label mate, is opening for us--we're trying to get his name out there.
How does the new album, "Ink," fit in with prior Fixx albums?
Very well, I think. I think the lyrics are a bit more powerful and warmer than our previous stuff. On this tour we're playing a lot of stuff off "Ink" because a new album sort of limits you. We're also doing some obscure Fixx songs, plus the songs everyone remembers.
How did the Fixx come about?
When we began, the name Fixx seemed to define what we were doing, because at that time, the names of bands seemed to define the band--something like the Smelly Skinheads. The band began with a nucleus of myself, drummer Adam Woods and bass player Dan Brown. We were called the Portraits. Then we recruited Jamie West-Oram, whose guitar sound has become quite distinctive.
Describe Fixx music.
Heady, hopefully inspiring and adventurous.
Can music change the world?
I don't question the fact that it has. It can document facts and stop you from giving up.
What should the audience get out of a Fixx show?
Hopefully, it's a bit uplifting and not your usual rock show. I move around quite a bit and am becoming a bit of a sideshow.
What's the best and worst thing about your job?
Traveling is the best thing and leaving home is the worst thing, so it's the same thing, really. We all have children now.
Would the new prime minister wear a Fixx T-shirt?
Yeah, I think he would. Why not? A blue one.
What would be your dream gig and your nightmare gig?
I'd love to play with the Grateful Dead, really. Our nightmare gig would be with the Scorpions or some other hair festival band--bands that are more obsessed with hair than music.
What was your strangest gig?
About three years ago we played this Air Force base in Colorado Springs, and there were all these guys in uniform and a lot of them threw their hats onto the stage.
What's the difference between European and American audiences?
There's a slight difference--American audiences are a bit more gung-ho. In Europe, the audiences are more reserved; it's the nature of how you grew up. People are taught to compete in America, and in Europe people know their place. There's not much space to move up in Europe--the only space is in your imagination.
What advice do you have for new bands?
Just stick to it and do something that you feel. If you can still feel comfortable about it a few years later, you're on the right track.
What's next for the Fixx?
Another tour. We'll be back in a couple of months with the Sisters of Mercy, the Gang of Four and maybe Public Enemy. But for now, we'll just see how far this album goes.