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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | ROCKTALK

The Fixx Gets Back in the Mix

The hit '80s rock band looks to rekindle its success with two new albums and a tour.

November 14, 1996|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

They haven't had an album in five years or toured in three years, but the Fixx seems eager to recapture their glory years of the early '80s. To that end, they have a pair of albums in the can--all they need is a label--and a dozen-gig tour, which will include a stop at the Ventura Theatre on Saturday night. Local outfits Whatever and Picasso's Mask will open the festivities at 8 p.m.

Fixx songs, particularly those on the first two albums--"Shuttered Room" and "Reach the Beach"--were staples on KROQ and college rock stations, as well as MTV. Expect to hear a substantial number of the band's greatest hits, such as "Red Skies at Night," "One Thing Leads to Another" and "Secret Separation." The band's forthcoming ninth and 10th albums are "Real Time Stood Still," a live recording from a recent tour of Germany, and the studio effort "Happy Landings."

Amazingly enough after 15 years, the four original guys still constitute the Fixx: Jamie West-Oram on guitar, Rupert Greenall on keyboards, Adam Woods on drums and Cy Curnin on vocals. So, rock must be working for the band--if most of us took three years off, we'd be sleeping in a doorway instead of preparing for a tour.

Curnin, the front man, smooth crooner and lyricist, discussed his favorite band from his New York home, his British accent still in no real danger of going anywhere.

*

So, what, now I suppose you're a Yankee fan?

Oh yes, I'm totally sold on them. My dad was visiting during the World Series and had never seen a baseball game before. After the first game, he stayed and watched the entire Series. He was jumping out of his chair. I've lived in New York for 12 years, and I was a Mets fan when they made it to the Series in the '80s, but now it's the Yankees.

*

So where has the Fixx been?

We've been living life and getting some new bearings. We've written a great new record.

*

How has the band managed to survive intact for 15 years?

It's been a long friendship. They say if a band can stay together for awhile, it becomes very rewarding. We're four very different individuals. We don't all live on the same block, although we used to do the communal thing. I've lived in New York for the last 12 years, but the other guys still live in England. We respect each other and we know when it's time to take a break and not crowd each other out. Now we all have wives and kids. There's nothing worse than somebody else's kids.

*

Most of your hits were in the '80s; what is '90s Fixx music like compared to the old stuff?

It's still highly recognizable as Fixx music. Although I hate the word "modern," we do have a modern edge to our music. We've kept up with the times. There's new technologies in recording, so you can pretty much record in your living room. Also, there wasn't much pressure this time and I could write without the clock ticking.

*

What's the most misunderstood thing about the Fixx?

That we're a pop techno band. What was best for us as a band also harmed us in a way. We have pop sensibilities, but we're not a pop band.

*

The Fixx was a staple on MTV when its first album came out. What effect did MTV have on your careers?

People can see you immediately, and it takes the mystery out. They can see you for five minutes, but they don't know you. Exposure on MTV gave us the opportunity to become a very good live band. But we always knew we'd earn our stripes by playing live. All of our heroes were great live bands, and we knew we weren't that good yet, so we paid our dues and got better.

*

Why is the British music press so mean?

They are. It's a small island and there's not much to write about. It's like clay pigeon shooting--they throw you up and shoot. They think they're very open-minded, but they're very closed-minded. They really get mad when bands make it big over here.

*

What do you think Fixx music sounds like?

A smooth groove with a heady vibe.

*

How do you prevent meltdown when the band is on the road?

Don't drink too much Jack Daniels. Stay away from the burgers everyday, and keep your trousers up.

*

What would you tell aspiring songwriters?

Just stick to it. Don't stop at the first sign of trouble. Don't get discouraged.

*

Can Fixx music change the world?

Well, it's changed my world.

*

What's the plan?

We're hoping to get these albums out early in the year, then do a more substantial tour. We're only doing 12 shows, half of them in California, so we can play for the industry types. We want to show people that we're not on life support. We've got a good catalog and we're one of the best live bands out there. Plus I love the Ventura Theatre. It's full of happy people with full bellies and good music.

*

Teacher by day, singer-songwriter by night, Chuck Grogg will have a CD release party Saturday night at Cafe Voltaire in Ventura. Grogg, with lots of relationship songs on "The Dumb Hours," seems to have weathered the emotional storm and, at the same time, taken good notes.

Grogg graduated from Thousand Oaks High School in 1984 and has taught writing and literature at Cal Lutheran, Ventura College and Moorpark College. The four-hour performance will begin at 7 p.m. and set you back a fiver. The venue is at 34 N. Palm St. Call 641-1743.

DETAILS

Cy Curnin

* WHAT: The Fixx, Whatever, Picasso's Mask.

* WHERE: Ventura Theatre, 26 S. Chestnut St.

* WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday.

* HOW MUCH: $18.50.

* CALL: 648-1888.

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