One of the most low-key rock reunions this summer comes from the Psychedelic Furs, a band that was one of rock's most heralded arrivals of the early '80s.
The British band behind "Love My Way," "Heaven," "The Ghost in You" and "Pretty in Pink" quietly reunited a few weeks ago without the requisite comeback album, VH1 special or attendant hype.
Booked to open a 21-date joint tour by the Go-Go's and B-52's (including Aug. 3 at the Greek Theatre and Aug. 4 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine), the Furs begin their reunion with a handful of club dates.
First Reunion Since Amicable Breakup
It will be the first time the founding members--vocalist Richard Butler, bassist Tim Butler and guitarist John Ashton--have gotten together since the amicable 1991 breakup, the lead singer says from a rehearsal studio in New York.
"It's a proper reunion. Not like KISS, who, I think, did it every year," Richard Butler says with a laugh. "At some point, that's not a reunion, it's laziness."
Reconvening the band came quite naturally, he says, when he was preparing songs for a solo album.
One of his collaborators was his brother, Tim. "He asked me how many songs I had, and I said I guess it was about 25. He said, 'That's a lot of songs. Why not do your own record and a Furs record as well?' That made perfect sense to me."
About the same time, "My agent called and said, 'Richard, if you're interested, there's a lot of interest out there in the Furs.' It all fell together."
It was easy enough to reconvene the band of Englishmen, who have all been living in the New York area for 18 years. "Tim was producing other bands, and John was playing in another band he put together, but decided he'd rather do this," Richard Butler says.
Ashton had been in Woodstock, N.Y., producing and performing with artists ranging from Marianne Faithful to Mercury Rev.
Richard Butler was most prominent, leading a new project called Love Spit Love that did respectably well in the past few years. Two of its members--guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Frank Ferrer--will augment the Furs on its upcoming tour.
Now he'll be in the amusing predicament of being in the Furs and hearing requests for Love Spit Love songs instead of the other way around.
"I think we'll play 'Long Long Time,' although some have said I should only play Psychedelic Furs stuff," Richard Butler says. "But it's all cut from the same cloth, really. Mostly, it will be the Furs."
And aside from the possibility of one or two new songs that will be part of the album they'll record at the end of the tour, it will be the familiar hits from the past, which will be interesting again after avoiding such songs for a decade.
"We needed a break," he says of the Furs' breakup. "It had gotten quite boring, knowing what our next album would sound like, and having to play certain songs over and over, it gets boring playing them so often. But given 10 years' rest, it's interesting again."
Richard Butler says he really did give the Furs' music a rest. "I don't think I even listened to the Psychedelic Furs much in the meantime the last 10 years, I was so bored with the music. I played it so much it was redundant," he says.
"But listening to it again, I thought, 'Well, we were pretty good sometimes.' "
'We Never Did Fit In,' Vocalist Says
It may be an odd time in the music world, but it's always been that way for the band, he says. "We never did fit in," Richard Butler says. "When we first came to America, all that was being played on the radio was Billy Joel, Journey and Foreigner."
It's not so different now. "It's a bit focus-less," he says of today's music. "But there's always good stuff out there. I loved the last Moby record and the stuff BT puts out. But for the most part what is now alternative music, for want of a better term, is pretty dull."
The new songs "are more about the passage of time and living godlessly and things like that," Richard Butler says. "Things that are more interesting to a person at 40 than a person at 20, I suppose."