News / Arts & Entertainment

Mad World: 80s New Wave Rock Acts in Their Own Words

Katherine Cole
Music fans have already seen songs of the 1960s get their due and the sounds of the 1970s have been endlessly analyzed as well. But what about the 1980s?  The authors of a new book are celebrating the music of the era.  

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your Devo from your Ultravox -- "Mad World" is an oral history that will put those bands in context and tell the stories behind 35 hits from what author Lori Majewski calls “the last golden age of pop,” the years 1978 to 1985.
    
“[19]80s New Wave doesn’t get the props, it doesn’t get the respect that Grunge and Punk and Classic Rock gets," she said. "We thought about it as a time with men in makeup and MTV and, ’Oooh, they’re visual artists. They do videos, they’re not serious musicians.’ Well, on the contrary. They were. They just thought of things as a full package with the visuals included. Thirty-five years later, we’re still listening to these songs. So we thought, gosh, it’s really time that we give New Wave its due.”
 
Mad World: 80s New Wave Rock Acts in Their Own Words
Mad World: 80s New Wave Rock Acts in Their Own Wordsi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The first band Majewski and co-author Jonathan Bernstein talked to was Duran Duran.

“They’re the Rolling Stones of this era," said Majewski. "To say you have them, pretty much everyone else fell into place after that.”

Was there one big “get” for her? A group or musician she really didn’t think would participate?
 
Morrissey, former singer for the 80’s alternative rock-band The Smiths, performs onstage at the House of Blues, Jan. 12, 2013, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.Morrissey, former singer for the 80’s alternative rock-band The Smiths, performs onstage at the House of Blues, Jan. 12, 2013, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
x
Morrissey, former singer for the 80’s alternative rock-band The Smiths, performs onstage at the House of Blues, Jan. 12, 2013, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Morrissey, former singer for the 80’s alternative rock-band The Smiths, performs onstage at the House of Blues, Jan. 12, 2013, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“I was really thrilled when we got quotes from Morrissey," she said. "Not only does he do very few interviews, but he does very few interviews when it has to do with The Smiths.”

But it wasn’t just Morrissey who sat down to talk about the band he fronted, The Smiths. His co-writer and guitarist Johnny Marr took part, too -- along with drummer Andy Rourke. But, it seems the lead singer had a different memory of things.

“He said he felt the other Smiths were quote ‘embarrassed’ by his lyrics to 'How Soon is Now,' some of his most seminal lyrics. ‘I am human, and I need to be loved. Just like everybody else does," Majewski said.

Majewski says she had a hard time believing the other Smiths would be embarrassed by those lyrics, so she asked them. The answer?

“We were blown away by them, as we were blown away by all of them,” she said.  "So it’s interesting, 35 years may have passed, 30 in the case of this song in particular, but Morrissey still feels the same. He was an insecure wound of a teen then and he still is today.”
    
The book "Mad World" includes photos and biographical info about the artists, as well as commentary about the iconic songs from the era. Co-author Jonathan Bernstein says there are a few things today’s musicians could learn from their New Wave brethren about taking risks and experimenting. Many of the artists profiled in the book were self-taught, do-it-yourselfers driven by the need to be creative. Gary Numan, for example, had never even seen a synthesizer before he used one to write the song “Cars.”

“Gary Numan was in this punk band called Tubeway Army," Bernstein said.  "He went into the studio with his band to make a punk album. There was a synthesizer lying around, just waiting to be picked up and carried off. He’d never played a synthesizer before. He pressed the button and the sound that was already set in the synthesizer just started rumbling. And that completely changed his perspective on what his music was going to be.”

At their website, MadWorldBook.com, authors Majewski and Bernstein have put together New Wave mix-tape ideas, videos, photos and even a few extra stories that didn’t make it into the book.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in public More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."