INTERVIEW: Pretty In Punk - Talking Johnny Rotten and John Hughes with the Psychedelic Furs ahead of UK singles tour

Leadsinger Richard Butler by Mike Pfeiffer
Leadsinger Richard Butler by Mike Pfeiffer
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Remember Pretty In Pink - John Hughes' pretty-much-perfect 1980s teen movie about love, longing and compromise? Who can forget adorable love-lorn Duckie, or Andy's brooding over 'heart-throb' Blane?

Well the musical inspiration for the classic film - and a band which are so much more than that besides and helped to define post-punk music - the Psychedelic Furs are back in the UK, for a singles tour of venues close to home.

Psychedelic Furs by Maggie Butler

Psychedelic Furs by Maggie Butler

This week I spoke with bass player and founding member Tim Butler to quiz him on punk rock - John Hughes, and get in my sneaky request for the band to play my favourite song Forever Now at their Oxford show! It really was was Some Kind of Wonderful....

The Psychedelic Furs got together after the Butler brothers (Tim and Richard) witnessed the raw punk power and energy of The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club.

In the early 1980s they launched the band by teaming up with Steve Lillywhite to create their eponymous debut album - and then Talk Talk Talk - one of the post-punk movement's defining records.

Tim, speaking from his home in Kentucky said: "Richard and I and my other brother went down to see them and were completely blown away by the attitude and their energy and their spirit.

"My brothers said 'do you want to get a band together?' but I said 'I can't play anything' - they said what would you like to play? Originally it was drums, but I was a poor 17-year-old kid so I opted for bass."

"Our sound is like the Sex Pistols crossed with Roxy Music, it's more thought-out. Punk was great because it gave the music business a kick up the bum - John Lydon said when he broke up the Pistols that people were just copying the Pistols and not doing their own thing and we didn't want to be like that."

"Punk helped bands like us happen - we could say stuff with minimal music- but we were also big fans of things like the Velvet Underground and Roxy Music - and we gave it the energy and power of punk. Punk made it possible in a way that prog really hadn't - people sitting at home thinking 'I don't know how to play anything by Carlos Santana' now felt like it was ok to pick up an instrument."

A surprising and lucky break came for the Furs a few years later - when screenwriter John Hughes based classic teen movie Pretty In Pink on the band's hit of the same name. The song instantly charted again when the movie was released in 1986 - which proved to be both a blessing and a curse for a band with DIY sensibilities.

Tim said: "It was a pleasant surprise when John Hughes approached us about it - Molly Ringwald had liked the original song and asked him to write a movie around the song - the storyline ended up having nothing to do with the original song, but it was a really nice thing.

"Sadly though - a lot of the hardcore early fans stopped liking us and said we had 'sold out'."

Psychedelic Furs are currently touring in the US where a whole legion of new fans are now coming out to see them play - perhaps inspired by Eighties nostalgia, or name-checks from the likes of The Killers who have cited them as an influence.

Early 2000s nu-metal stars Korn even covered Psychedelic Furs' hit Love My Way - bringing their music to a whole new audience entirely - and a different generation of listeners.

Speaking about the upcoming tour - which takes in large and small venues including the 02 Academy in Oxford on September 10, Tim said: "It's been a while since we have played in England and we are running up to releasing a new album so we felt that we'd do a tour with was 'the best of the Furs' to re-introduce people to us.

"At the moment it's all of the singles, and then some of the more popular album tracks like President Gas - but who knows, we are a very fickle band."

"Since we got back together in 2000 we get some of the original fans and they will bring their kids down, and sometimes those kids will have kids too. People aged from 16 to 60 come to see us."

"For fans that have never seen us before - despite some of the biggest hits like Love My Way and The Ghost In You - we are not a namby pamby band - we put on a good rock show."

To find out more about the Psychedelic Furs tour - and to get tickets for a show near you go to http://www.thepsychedelicfurs.com/

Friday, September 01 - Glasgow O2 Academy
Saturday, September 02 - Leeds O2 Academy
Sunday, September 03 - Manchester O2 Ritz
Tuesday, September 05 - Birmingham O2 Institute
Wednesday, September 06 - Bristol O2 Academy
Thursday, September 07 - Brighton Concorde 2 SOLD OUT
Saturday, September 09 - London O2 Forum Kentish Town
Sunday, September 10 - Oxford O2 Academy
Monday, September 11 - Norwich UEA