AUDIO JUNKIE: Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp moves on

Published July 3, 2021, 10:22 AM

by Punch Liwanag

The singer-songwriter-guitarist for the iconic ’80s band is out with a new album.

Titled “In Solo,” it has Gary Kemp doing much of the heavy lifting musically – doing vocals, guitars, piano and of course, the songwriting.

Kemp was interviewed a couple weeks ago by Bulletin Entertainment following the release of the single “Ahead Of The Game.”

He is no stranger to multi-tasking for sure, given his history with Spandau Ballet. On this occasion though, we noticed his guitar-playing. After all these years, Kemp is playing as solid as ever. No doubt sharpened by his time with the band Saucerful Of Secrets, that he shares with its leader, ex-Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

“No one plays guitar on the radio anymore, but if the guitar is expressive, and melodic you know then it is just as good as any instrument that’s giving you melody,” said Kemp.

“And playing with Nick (Mason) is about that. I’ve been able to take my influences as far back, from Mick Ronson (David Bowie guitarist) and guitar players like that and express, and I’ve become known for that, so it’s definitely gone on this record.”

It’s hard not to reference Kemp’s work with his more famous band, but “Ahead Of The Game” does remind a bit of Spandau: tasty pop rock, a hint of a new romantic sound, with excellent rhythm guitar work punctuated with melodic guitar solo bits. Kemp himself described that said song, and the sound of his new solo effort is, “Saucerful of secrets and Spandau ballet, put them in a blender and you’ll get ‘In Solo.’”

But Kemp made sure to drive the point that he is about the present and moving forward. Asked if he’s the type to stash away songs for future albums, he quickly answered, “no.”

Kemp said that most of the songs for “In Solo” are all new, adding that “The only track on this album written more than two years ago is ‘The Feet Of Mercury.’ I don’t put songs away. I mean, I did in the old days when I was writing for Spandau, but I wouldn’t use them. That’s kind of dated for me. I’ve got no excitement for a song if it’s very old.”  

Describing the themes that he took on for “In Solo,” Kemp shared that, “These songs I give you today, are pieces of me. They’re about me. They’re autobiographical, and I didn’t do that with Spandau Ballet.”

On this end, the excellent track “Waiting For The Band” comes to mind. A track that now feels like a young Kemp reminiscing on his formative years.

There’s also “Too Much,” an introspective, piano-decked song that puts Kemp’s first-rate singer-songwriter skills on spotlight.

This early, Kemp is already halfway through another new album. Testament that this singer-songwriter is about moving forward and is not looking back.

“I pick up the guitar every single day. I go to the piano every single day. If I’m feeling depressed about something, it’s the instrument that I go to. So, yeah, It still means a lot to me.”

We’re curious though: Is he at least open to the idea of Spandau Ballet getting back together?

“I don’t think it’s going to happen now,” said the guy who wrote “True.”

“I just think there’s too many difficulties every time we try and get back together,” he explained, before saying, “I’d rather put that effort in trying to be creative myself.”

So true.