The Human League's Joanne Catherall talks ahead of Birmingham show

Entertainment | Published:

Their first single was Being Boiled.

And remarkably, 38 years on, it still sounds relevant.

The band Human League - founder Phil Oakey alongside Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley – are more popular now than ever before.

They play to more fans and are back on the road for a pre-Christmas arena tour, which reaches Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena tomorrow.

Somehow, the band have managed to find a balance between rock'n'roll and normal life. After decades in the music industry, they've been able to balance the competing demands of both.

Joanne says her son has enjoyed going to gigs over the years, which has made parenting easier. "It was quite easy when he was a baby because he came everywhere with us back then. The in-between years were a bit tricky, but between my husband and my mum, he was always well looked after."

Joanne signed up for the band after Oakey approached her in a club called Crazy Daisy. "It was, it was; it was just a regular Wednesday… although I think it was a Wednesday – there's me old brain going! We had certain clubs that we went to on certain nights and Wednesday was the Crazy Daisy.

"It was always a bit of a mad place and Philip didn't actually talk to me that night, he talked to Susan because I was dancing! I remember, of course, going home on the late night bus and being really excited and saying, 'ooh, it was lovely of him to want to ask that, but our parents are never going to go for it'.

"They were quite strict and you had nothing like X Factor in those days, like now, I don't know if anyone would think that was out of the norm for someone to ask something like that, because people actually seek that sort of stuff. But in 1980, it was a case of, 'someone in a band wants you to go on tour with them! And are we going to let you go?'"

The band's major breakthrough came when they recorded Dare. They'd drive to the studios in a Hillman Imp. Joanne adds that those years were very exciting: "Yes, well certainly at the beginning of the recording for Dare, Susan and I were still in school, so we just used to hop on the train down to Reading to do bits, you know, Carrie would pick us up, we'd do bits, then we had to get a train back. We couldn't have days and days off school, but they were quite flexible with odd days. So yeah, there was quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing going on to Reading in those early days.

"Obviously one of the most important people was Martin Rushent. You know, you can have great songs, but if you don't have a good producer – we didn't have anyone within the band who could produce – and if you don't have a great producer, it can't get finished off to the loveliness that Martin did it. We had the songs there, but he finished them off and made them commercial."


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