Since the late 70’s The Psychedelic Furs have been earning the respect of fans and critics alike. The band’s punk rock, poetic lyricism, and seductive rhythmic hooks earned them a reputation as one of the most riveting musical forces to come out of the early 80’s post-punk, new wave era. The Psychedelic Furs have been compared with legendary musicians such as David Bowie, the Velvet Underground, the Doors and the Sex Pistols. In 1991 the Furs disbanded, and didn’t play together for close to a decade. In 2000 the band reunited, put out a live album and returned to the road. The current Psychedelic Furs touring lineup remains Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass), Rich Good (guitar), Mars Williams (saxophone), Amanda Kramer (keyboards), and Paul Garisto (drums). TALive recently had the opportunity to chat with Tim Butler, bass player for the Psychedelic Furs, about the group’s influence on alternative rock, their new album in the works, and how the music industry has changed since being back from hiatus.
At what point did you guys know you had really made it?
Our big break was when Love My Way came out in the early ’80s and we started to get heavy rotation on MTV and the audiences started to get bigger. That was when we discovered that we had something that people liked. Of course after that the really big break for good and bad was Pretty In Pink the movie. That song came out years before the movie, but it had been overlooked on the album. Molly Ringwald was a fan of the band, and wanted to write a movie vehicle around that song. So then came Pretty In Pink, which really has nothing to do with the lyrics. It’s just the title of the song.
What was the negative backlash after the success from Pretty In Pink?
The bad was that some of our really hardcore fans from the first four albums were really turned off. They thought we had sold out because all the sudden there were teenage girls walking around in Pretty In Pink t-shirts.
What have you you found over the years are the major differences between playing in Europe vs. in the States?
As soon as we could we started touring over here (in the U.S.) because we seemed to really capture the college crowd. We caught on a lot quicker here. Back in the day there wasn’t that much alternative music on Top 40 radio so college radio was the key. Over here there are so many more college stations.
How has touring and performing today changed compared to your experiences pre-hiatus? (1991)
It’s a business now. It used to be that no one really cared much about merchandising, and didn’t know they could make money off of promotions. Nowadays it’s all big business. You’ve got businesses that run the rental companies, lawyers, accountants all just for the band.
How has that affected the band?
There hasn’t been too much of an effect. We’re working on a new album, and there’s not the same pressure that there was to write three top hits on the record. I mean we’re not going to top Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga. It’s a lot more relaxed, and the same goes for touring. We made our mark on alternative music, and we help shape the genre when it first started in the early ’80s/late ’70s.
What bands have the Psychedelic Furs influenced?
The Killers. A couple years ago they actually asked us to open up a few shows for them. We did the Hollywood Bowl and the Benicassim Festival in Spain. At the Hollywood Bowl Brandon had the great idea for The Killers to play Pretty In Pink in their set and have us come play on stage with them. So halfway through The Killers set, Jimmy Kimmel came out, and introduced us to play Pretty In Pink with them. That was great and definitely showed our influence on The Killers.
What is the most memorable set you have ever played?
Most memorable set was walking to The Ford in LA for our sound check and being told that the show was sold out. We finally knew we had made it.
What is the most memorable set you have ever seen?
The Sex Pistols in 1976 or 77
Tell us about the new album coming out?
It’s a work in progress. We’re currently playing two of the new songs that will be on it, and we’re in rehearsals to get them sounding good enough to record.
If you weren’t a career rock star what would you want to do for a living>
When I first was in school I wanted to be a vet
Don’t miss the legendary Psychedelic Furs playing The State Theatre Thursday, April 3rd! Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets: $40