The Human League
Wrapped in a leather mac, Phil Oakey stands motionless against the wintry night. He's plotting something. The scene cuts to Joanne Catherall. The Oakey of Love Action had indeed just got divorced, but this was the brunette one, Joanne Catherall, who was Oakey's real-life lover. SUSAN ANN SULLEY and JOANNE CATHERALL both 39, have been in Human League since singer Phil Oakey spotted them in a Sheffield aside as she joins royals - including Kate as relations thaw further - for Boxing Day shooting feast.
The Human League were succeeding on every level: The group would enjoy further success in the s; they would even have more number one records in the US. But they would never dominate the agenda like they did in Twenty years on and, in one of those inexplicable twists of fate, we find ourselves in something of a Groundhog Day situation.
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There is talk of another royal wedding with the same groom asthere are violent clashes on the streets of Oldham, and the hills are once more alive with the sound of synthpop. Suddenly, after a miserable decade when they were out of step with music trends, facing both personal and financial disasters, and a future consigned to the dustbin of history, their influence is everywhere. Moby has called them his favourite group, Craig David covered their hit single, Human, and numerous acts have formed in their wake.
And throughout Secrets, on which state-of-the-art technology is used to capture that classic Human League sound, the core trio of Oakey, Sulley and Catherall exude confidence. Yet in person, they take great lengths to belittle themselves and their achievements.
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Catherall, also 38, is of the same mind: I can't keep time. I can't do step class or anything like that at the gym, because I've got no rhythm. Philip's a good vocalist, he's got a very distinctive style - you hear his voice on the radio and you know that it's him. Me and Joanne, we've got daft voices. Later, he will describe his lyrics as "all right", adding that "sometimes 'all right' can be great".
Then the wry South Yorkshire delivery takes over and you can't tell if he's being serious. They'll even discuss financial ruin. Of the millions grossed by the 5m-selling Dare! There was, according to Sulley, "a time when we were that close to bankruptcy. I had to sell my house. Philip was bankrolling the group.
It was very scary. Between the three of us. The original all-male line-up was, says Oakey, "pretty arty". United by a love of A Clockwork Orange and producer Giorgio Moroder, the band released two albums, Reproduction and Traveloguewhich earned them a cult following and the support of David Bowie, who described them as "the sound of ".
Their third album, Dare! Their first album of the s, Romantic?
I cried a lot. We were a joke. Everyone had said, 'You're great', and people dressed like me. Suddenly, I was beginning to go bald, I'd got fat, I'd lost touch with fashion.
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I was pretty depressed. I'm totally uninterested in having children. I didn't know what I was doing.
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Prozac and the hairdresser's. Old music is only good for ripping off. That week Alison Moyet got to number one and they said she was on after us.The Human League discussing Lovebox 2008 and Steel City tour
We went into the back room and screamed at them until they gave up and let us be the headliners. In that case, isn't the one date in Perth that he will be supporting Culture Club a bit of an irritant? There's a long pause. I incline towards liking Boy George. Maybe that thing where you're continuously trying to push your status up doesn't count anymore.
I now do reunions with guys I went to school with and they all say the same thing: That was what drove us for 30 years. But we don't care now.
That's incredible when you consider most music from the era wouldn't last five minutes in today's Twittersphere. Japan's Tin Drum would be accused of cultural appropriation. Duran Duran's Girls on Film would get a restraining order. Post-'80s, Oakey's been particularly taken by Daft Punk "Homework was the best record of the '90s" — and Les Rythmes Digitales whose creator Stuart Price counts the League as a huge influence.
As we sign off, Oakey prepares to get back to work in the studio, fiddling with the live set for Australia.