Loose Ends Reunion Tour Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 12:16

An Interview with Jane Eugene of Loose Ends

by Casey Pukl 

One of the biggest British dance groups of the 1980’s, Loose Ends is celebrating 40 years of music together this year. With hits like, “Hanging on a String” and “Slow Down”, it’s apparent that there’s a great musical chemistry there. Although the trio is not in it’s original form, original members Jane Eugene and Steve Nichol have been going strong on their second time around since 2003.

I had the chance to catch up with Jane Eugene last week and get the scoop on what brought the band back together, how they’ve amassed a whole new crowd of young fans, and just what she’s most looking forward to about coming to San Diego.

CP: What got you guys started on this reunion tour? What brought you guys back together?

JE: We’ve actually been working since 2003, so we’ve been working, but it’s the fact that people want to hear the music. There’s been a resurgence in people being interested in what Loose Ends has done. This will be our 40th year this year. So what we’re doing over here is hanging on the streets, slowing down, watching people, watching you. You can’t stop the rain. Everything that people have gone out and loved and we’re gonna do that kind of a show. We’re not going to do a show where you’re going to hear the songs that you don’t want to hear.

CP: Fantastic!

JE: You sound young. How old are you?

CP: I’m 25.

JE: You’re a baby! How do you know my music?

CP: There’s this awesome thing called Spotify. I get to explore all the good stuff.

JE: I’m gonna go there. I’m gonna go there and check it out. It’s really nice that you bring the younger generation in to be able to hear what we did so long ago.

CP: That’s what I wanted to ask you about. Have you noticed your crowds getting any younger over the years?

JE: Yes. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people of your age, and that’s been very surprising to me because you’re singing along with the lyrics and I was like, “Oh, you really know this stuff!” It’s really exciting. This stuff is fun because I listen to rap music too you know.

CP: What do you think has made your audience so much younger?

JE: When we used to put songs out, sometimes in England we wouldn’t get as much air play as we would in America, and they would say to us that your music is ahead of its time. And we used to think at the time that was a bunch of you know what. They just don’t want to play it. But when you listen to our music and you can play it now forty years later, it doesn’t have that aged sound to it. Like that was done back in the 80’s. I think it was the way Nick Martinelli produced the track. It had this strange kind of fit that can fit now.

CP: Well that classic R&B sound has made a resurgence, and I feel like the new records sound like your old stuff does.

JE: Even if you go back to Nat King Cole, if you can just play something on the piano, you can produce it any way you want. If you’ve got a beginning, middle, and an end, you can produce the song however you want. Think about those songs, those songs have been out for fifty, sixty years, let alone what we’ve done. So if you’ve got something classic and you can take it away and play it on the guitar, even if it’s a dark tune, you can take it away on the piano or guitar another instrument, you’ve really got something that’s going to last.

CP: It becomes kind of like a standard. Every genre has its standards, you know?

JE: Everybody likes to sing along to something.

CP: Especially when it’s catchy! I know you guys probably write a ton more material than you record and release, but is there any thing in particular that you look for in a song that you can pin down to know yes, this is something we want to put on the record, yes this is a single, yes we want to release this?

JE: Something you believe in. Something that’s relatable. You have to tell your truth. If you tell your truth, it usually relates to somebody else’s. You can’t just go in and manufacture something that’s not real. It doesn’t usually have the same effect.

CP: That’s funny that you say that because I was just having a conversation with a song writer I know in Nashville the other day. He started off trying to write songs that he thought what other people could relate to. And then he started writing songs about his own life and they were so specific in the details, down to what she was wearing, and what kind of car they were driving. He found that people really related more to the specifics of his story than the generalities of what he thought people were feeling.

JE: Because usually emotionally, somebody has been through or been where you’ve been. That’s what is so great about Adele. She tells her story of a horrible relationship on that album. I mean really, I’m sure she’s over crying right now, but what it did is it allowed a lot of other people, through her, to actually get rid of their tears and say, “Yeah that happened to me.” I think that if you tell your story, if you’re strong enough to tell your truth, it’ll relate. Tell your truth, or keep it to yourself. “Hangin” On a String” was about myself and Carl when we were going out with each other. It was about the discourse we had between us. When I look back on it I realize that, “Wow, that was really about us.”

CP: What was that dynamic like?

JE: It’s something you don’t want to do unless you’re young [laughs]. Not something I’d do now— it’s like no, no thank you. We cannot do that. That’s not a good idea. We cannot go out with anybody in the band.

CP: [Laughs] It’s such a classic problem.

JE: You’ve got to love it. The truth is when you’re young you’ve got less of a barrier up. You tend to be more truthful about what’s really going on. We were a lot more open then. When you’re young, you’re vulnerable, and it all comes out.

CP: Tell me a little about what you guys have been working on. I know you’ve got this tour coming up but have you guys been in the studio? What else is going on?

JE: Actually next week I’m going to Florida at the Funk Fest doing a gig with Ledisi, Erika Badu, and Doug. E. Fresh.

CP: That’s a sweet lineup!

JE: And then we’re going to do the same gig again at Funk Fest in Atlanta. I wish I had known earlier I would have put you on my guest list in Jackson so you could have come.

CP: I would have loved that!

JE: Yeah it’s fun. It’s really good. And of course we’re working with you so we’re really looking forward to that.

CP: What are you most looking forward to about coming out to San Diego?

JE: Meeting the people. A different audience makes it a different show every time. That’s the best part about it.

CP: What brought you guys back together in ’03 that made it different this time around?

JE: Well, all the original members are not together. I’m working with Steve who’s an original member. Carl is doing his own thing in England. But what happens is you just get old enough to realize that it’s really about the music. That’s really it. It’s beautiful. Nothing else is that big.

CP: Have you guys been writing new stuff?

JE: Yeah I was in the studio the other day, I won’t say with whom, but it was fun. It was actually fun because for a long time it wasn’t fun when we got back in the studio.

CP: Did you at least keep writing on your own throughout the time you guys weren’t together as a group?

JE: Yeah, I’ve written other stuff because you get to the point you write that much, you can just do it in your sleep. But do you like it? That’s the thing. So right now, I’m writing stuff that I like. You may actually get to hear it soon.

CP: When you write, can you tell me a little about what your writing process is like?

JE: I like to write things as they come. I prefer to write to somebody playing an instrument, whether it’s a guitar or piano, and then you can set it to a track. But I like to hear the chords; I like to hear the freshness of that. And that’s how I’m used to writing. I’m melody based. I hear a melody, go along with it, and then I write the lyrics. Then I put it back and let the producers do with it what they’re going to do.

CP: When you’re writing lyrics, where do you start? Do you get a hook happening first or a story mapped out in your head?

JE: It really happens organically because even when you get a melody you kind of mumble something. And when you actually hear the melody go down, you get a feeling for a certain type of words. If it’s a hook great; if it’s a verse fantastic; it could even be the middle eight. It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle in my mind. That’s what works for me.

CP: Do you play any instruments?

JE: I play my voice. The guys are so much better, so I don’t like getting clunky on the piano because what I can play versus what I’m used to hearing is not the same. I play melodies in my head. I can hear melodies all the time. I can hear melodies of other people’s songs.

CP: Is there anyone that you’ve been listening to lately that really influenced you or had a strong impact?

JE: I love a lot of different music for a lot of different reasons. Who was I listening to the other day? I think I was listening to Young Jeezy and Ne-Yo’s track “Forever Young.” I like stuff with a good melody and a good beat. I listen to a lot of different stuff. I like a lot the young music. A lot of people don’t my age, but I tend to like it.

CP: Yeah it keeps you current.

JE: Somebody asked me the other day, “How do you feel about being called ‘Old School’?” I don’t mind. I worked hard to get that title because old school to me means quality. Old school to me means a time when we can go to the studio and get a whole string section because the record companies were paying for it in that day. These days, you wouldn’t even be able to afford to do it unless you were Jay-Z. You know what I’m saying? Old school to me meant we had percussion instruments. We had so much more available to us and we were very lucky because it was at a time when record companies were doing very, very well. Now they’re not selling so many records, so you have to turn that stuff as cheaply as possible. I think old school were the days when somebody could hear you in the club, he might have a friend in A&R, and that’s how you got a deal. It’s kind of harder in these days. We had a format where we could head to. Like if the record company was into you and the record company sold, it took off, and you didn’t really know how it took off because the right people were there and they were doing the right stuff. Even artist development was there. They would wait for you to get where you’re going. Now days if you put something out that don’t hit, it’s over. You’re onto the next.

CP: When you guys go into the studio now, do you still try to use some of the older recording techniques?

JE: It depends what it calls for. You don’t go in and manufacture stuff and seal it; you go in with the vibe – it’s really artistic. If it calls for it, you can hear it because when you’re writing the song and the song is really right, it’s almost like a spiritual moment. Something is moving in the room, and it’s almost directing you and telling you this needs this and that needs that. What it really comes down to is movement.

CP: What’s the main message you want to send out to your fans?

JE: Listen. Life is short, so live your life. Believe in yourself; get out there; don’t think about it— be about it. Life is bleak sometimes, so people tend to think that they can’t live up to their dream. They say, “I can’t be a musician anymore, there’s no money in it, blah blah blah.” I tell them, “Hey, God has a journey, especially for you. So believe in it.”

Special thanks to Jane for her time! Be sure to come on our and celebrate the group’s 40th anniversary tomorrow night!

Loose Ends on Spotify

WHAT: Loose Ends Reunion Tour ft. Jane Eugene
WHEN: Wednesday, May 16, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $10-$39 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile