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Fixx Facts

The Fixx

Article from International Musician & Recording World, October 1986

The Fixx are big in American. Chris Holland-Hill, who's big in Hemel Hempstead, finds out why.

Did you know that The Fixx were actually quite big in America? Did you know that even in England people know the words to their songs? Did you know that their producer has fingers in a lot of pies? Neither did Chris Holland-Hill...

The Fixx are part of the musical community dubbed with the mysterious tag 'big in America'. Others in this group of banished musicians include Boys Don't Cry and Jon Parr. Why does it happen? Rupert Greenall, keyboard player with The Fixx, and drummer Adam Woods try to explain the phenomena.

"We were surprised. It has something to do with the attitude of English media and the fact that we did break in America first, which was totally beyond our control of course. It seems that in Britain you have to go through a period of apprenticeship before you can go to America. American TV and radio picked up on our videos and records long before they did over here. We didn't go through that so there may have been some anti feeling straight away. It seems to be an attitude over here that if you're successful in any walk of life anywhere but in England then there must be something wrong with you."

Still, The Fixx have a definite following here if their reception at the Kentish Town and Country Club is anything to go by, with not only a large turn out but everyone except me singing the words to every song. Record sales are surprisingly good too for a band that have seemingly only achieved cult status in their native country. Rupert: "I think we've sold about 30 or 40 thousand of each LP we've released over here. I mean we would have been really pleased when we started if we had sold that many so it's all relative. Then we would have considered it a great success but it's not when you compare it to the success we've had outside England."

American radio may have had a helping hand in their US success; with hundreds of local and college stations the chance of exposure is that much higher. Certainly The Fixx appreciate the different approach.

Rupert: "I think that you have a lot better chance of being heard over there because of all the different stations. Over here you have the problem of only having one national station and if they don't like you then you don't get played and I'm not sure that's a very healthy situation."

Adam: "You also have album track stations which just play album tracks and nothing else which helped a lot because we're not really a singles band."

Another factor that's helped the band is their producer Rupert Hine, known for his work with Tina Turner, Howard Jones and more recently Robert Palmer and his massive hit Addicted to Love.

Rupert: "When we started we didn't have a deal and couldn't get any interest from record companies so we sent off tapes to all sorts of producers and Rupert came back to us saying that he'd like to record one of the tracks as a single. As we didn't have a record contract he took it upon himself to record us and then play it to the record companies. It got played on the radio quite a lot and attracted some interest and got a deal that way."

"Most things you can do with sequencers we've found can be played anyway and be played much better"

Being with the band from day one and recording everthing that they have done to date so far it's obvious that his influence would have been felt strongly within the band.

Adam: "I think it's been a mutual influence. I mean, when we met him in 1980 he wasn't really famous for producing anyone then. He had some success with a band called Quantum Jump who had a single called The Lone Ranger and he put the money from that into his studio and we were one of the early projects. He was just on the look out for new bands."

Rupert: "Rupert is a man with a finger in a lot of pies, he knows no bounds and is not bound by fashion. He doesn't do things that are thrown at him by record companies saying that this is going to be the next big thing. He just records the bands that he wants to do."

The band's equipment set up is fairly impressive to say the least, though surprisingly the use of MIDI does not figure very highly.

Adam: "Well it's a mixture of stuff. I've got a Ludwig bass and snare but I've got an electronic drum system I use for triggering tom tom sounds and stuff like that. That's about all — I don't synthesise anything else at the moment. I really like the set upon stage because monitoring is so clear with electronic tom toms and I found you can never get acoustic ones loud enough without getting feedback from somewhere. It's also good for instant tuning if you want to have the toms in tune in relation to the song and changing between songs.

"I think with full electronic kits it sounds like drum machines with someone pressing the buttons. I have got an SDS7 and an MTM MIDI interface and we took it out on five gigs and it didn't perform on one of them. The MTM is a great piece of technology but when you get it out on the road it fucks up. Apart from the MTM MIDI doesn't feature heavily in the live set up. It's always been something we've toyed with like sequencers. Because they've been around for the last few years it's something that everyone's been getting very involved with but we've managed to stay away from that."

"I've always been a bit suspicious about this English superiority with music"

Rupert: "We haven't done it on purpose, it's just that our style is much more human. Most things you can do with sequencers we've found can be played anyway and be played much better, and MIDI really falls in the same category. To listen to a sequence live is boring."

Adam: "There is a link from the drum system to the MTM to guitar but we didn't use it last night. It's so unreliable that we've never been able to use it yet. That's for triggering a really fast 16 guitar pattern while Jamie just plays block chords, and triggering it through the gate of the SPX 90.

Adam: "In the very early days we were opening gates on the synths with the hi hat using Kepexs in the studio."

Despite their know how about the gear they seem a lot more keen to talk about the band than the gear. But are they musos?

Rupert: "Musos? Not in the sense of a traditional muso band, we're not virtuosos or anything. We look upon ourselves as a group of people and when the five separate units work together something totally different comes out. We don't have flashy guitar or keyboard solos or anything like that and Adam's never done a drum solo in his life. We feel that's not needed, so in that sense we're not a muso band. Basically we write and the band is a vehicle for writing. The output is what a band should be judged on and we've always been aware of that, which is why we take a long time over writing."

It seems strange that a band so well received abroad should be totally ignored despite the fact they have an audience. How many other good bands are we missing out on for whatever reason?

Adam: "I've always been a bit suspicious about this English superiority with music. They seem to have got this impression from the days of the Beatles that Britain was the key to musical success. To me it seems that The Beatles were just flogging American music back to the Americans."

Be that as it may The Fixx will continue to play wherever they sell and those who aren't given a chance to hear will be the ones missing out.

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Yamaha Electronic Percussion System

Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Oct 1986

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman


The Fixx



Related Artists:

Rupert Hine

Interview by Chris Holland-Hill

Previous article in this issue:

> Beatroute: Zodiac Mindwarp a...

Next article in this issue:

> Yamaha Electronic Percussion...

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