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What’s It All About Alfie?


Johnny Waller goes upstairs and downstairs with Yazoo.

Totally at odds with the impression I’d formed of Vince from reading other interviews and seeing him on the box, he’s not at all difficult to talk to and seems to be actually enjoying it, though he has a little habit of trailing of a sentence with a little laugh, as though he’s already said enough and the rest is obvious. His already-striking haircut has been made to look even more severe since he’s had to top and back cropped right to the bone, giving him a curiously comical appearance.

As he drains the last of his chocolate, Alison Moyet – known to friends as Alfie Noakes and fans as just Alf – makes a surprise entrance. Picking up on Vince’s last answer, she reckons, “Well, there are advantages in working with a 12-piece band too …”

Would you like that – do you ever feel lonely on stage with no band behind you?

“Yeah, I’d like that … but you don’t have time to think about it, you’re too busy trying to get some sort of reaction – it’s like total concentration on the song.”

She speaks quickly and eagerly – almost nervously, often giving a small laugh or tripping over her words rather like Marc Almond.

“I honestly don’t know how he can just stand there behind all his things,” she announces looking at Vince. “That’s obviously his choice how to do things, but I couldn’t just stand there – I’d be totally embarrassed! I’d feel like an absolute idiot. Lots of people think I’m really getting into it on stage, but in some ways it’s just a question of either doing that and dancing, or stand there and die!”

Do you ever think you’ve been spoiled by such early runaway success?

“Spoiled? No … ”

“Yeah, I think we have a bit,” counters Vince.

“Oh, I don’t take anything for granted though,” Alf adds hastily.

She explains that the current set of dates are “Just warm-ups, to get ourselves together, then we’ll do a proper tour where kids can come and see us, it won’t just be clubs.”

The actual show they put on is basically a live performance of the ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’ album, with a few differences because “There’s no point in having it totally like the album, though Yazoo was basically a studio project, recording the album first, so it’s only now that we’re taking the material out on the road.”

Do you have any more new material other than ‘China’?

“Well, that’s not new material either,” laughs Vince. “It’s just the original version of ‘I Before E Except After C’ off the album.”

“It started off as a real choral instrumental,” continues Alf, “then you scrubbed it right down to the drum track – then that got scrubbed as well!”

But as it appears on the LP, it’s very disjointed and experimental – it’s almost as though you wanted to prove you weren’t merely a pop group!

“Oh no!” protests Vince. “It wasn’t that contrived – ‘I Before E’ started off as an ordinary instrumental.”

“Very ordinary!” sneers Alf.

He ignores her jibe. “Then we changed it and added more things to make it more and more interesting.”

“That’s debatable!” she snorts. “I’ve never been a great one for instrumentals anyway, but that’s just me being a singer. If Vince had his way, we’d have about six million instrumentals in the set!”

Trying to get back onto safer ground, I mention that the title of the LP, ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’, that was presumably where it was recorded?

“No,” deadpans Vince.

“Eric is our engineer and co-producer,” confirms Alf, “but ‘Upstairs …’ – we just liked the sound of it. The studio is a one-storey church, so there isn’t any upstairs! Everyone thinks we’re so profound and have real deep meanings, but we’re just so incredible average!”