With a grand total of just 24 concerts to their name, Yazoo don’t have what you’d call an expansive live legacy. A full 25 years after they split, however, that’s all set to change. Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke are revisiting their youthful electro-soul manoeuvres to coincide with the release of an exhaustive new box-set covering their every last swoop and bleep, which explains why Clarke is currently hunched over his programmer, attempting to recall songs he wrote a quarter of a century ago. Songs he’s barely heard since. Then there’s the awful fear that nobody is going to actually show up. “Try and come along,” he pleads from his home in Maine. “We need people!”
Most of us didn’t foresee a Yazoo reunion. How did it come about?
There were discussions at the record company about whether this box-set might lead us to doing some shows. I had reservations, because myself and Alison only did one tour. It’s not as though we build up a huge live following. The reservations – which I still have – are really about no one turning up! I can’t image how some of the songs, apart from Only You and Don’t Go, will be recognisable to many people, but apparently lots of people bought the albums, and those were the days when you listened to albums from end to end!
Were you reluctant to revisit something that is essentially a small part of your youth?
A little, it’s very strange. Perhaps if I was a singer I might have gone back to the songs – I think Alison has sung Only You since – but I haven’t heard most of the tracks in 25 years, though it’s been quite a pleasurable experience. I’m doing the programming and arrangements right now and I’d forgotten how simple they are – just going from C to F to G to Am is really exciting when you first go into a studio. There’s something great about such plain songs, ‘d find it very difficult to go back and write like that again now.
Why did Yazoo split up in 1983?
We had such different personalities. We didn’t talk. We had problems working out what we were doing. I was a control freak. And we were only 21!
Have you seen much of each other since?
We occasionally meet up – I saw Alison perform in New York a while ago, but I’ve got Erasure and she’s been busy with her songs and her acting. I’m sure we’re going to have lots to talk about …
What will we see at the shows?
It will be just the two of us, the same as before. Ninety-nine per cent of the music is programmed – I’ve only got one pair of hands! – but Alison can improvise and I can change things that aren’t working. We’ll play most of our two albums. I’d quite happily have a go at some of Alison’s later stuff, but there are no current plans to do that. I can tell you the stage set is based around the artwork of our first album, Upstairs at Eric’s.
How did Andy Bell react to the reunion? Any slammed doors or smashed crockery?
I really didn’t want to upset Andy. We have such a close relationship, Erasure is my life. After the last tour and album he said he’d like to take a couple of years off, to try other things. When this opportunity came up I wrote him a long email and said, “What do you think? If you feel unhappy or uncomfortable with it then I won’t do it.” He emailed me back and said, “Just get me some tickets!”
You sound a little apprehensive about the whole thing?
I am! Touring puts quite a lot of pressure on, and I haven’t toured with Alison for a long time, so I’m more – not apprehensive, but nervous – than usual. We’ll soon see!
Originally printed in the May 2008 edition of The Word magazine.
Reprinted without permission for non-profit use only.