THE Synth-pop veterans are returning to Brighton off the back of their 17th album World Be Gone, released last year. Vince Clarke of the duo tells EDWIN GILSON why the state of the world is good for musicians and how he and bandmate Andy Bell are like a married couple

THIS year hasn’t got off to an ideal start for Erasure.

Singer Andy Bell’s illness meant the duo had to cancel their Irish dates, the first of their European tour. When I speak to songwriter and synth player Vince Clarke he’s kicking his heels in a Dublin hotel, eager to get going. By his prediction, the band’s Brighton date in a few weeks’ time is in do danger.

“Andy is definitely on the mend and by the time we get to the UK he’ll be as right as rain,” says Vince. “Part of the reason we took the decision to cancel the shows was that you can’t start a long tour with an even slightly bad voice. It’s only going to get worse.”

You can see where Vince is coming from. For a band renowned for their entrancing, high-energy live shows, it just doesn’t make sense for the frontman to be at anything less than 100 percent. And Erasure wouldn’t want to miss a Brighton show at any rate, a city in which they have always been received with open arms. “Brighton’s been really good to us,” says Vince. “We usually play the Centre and the Dome is a beautiful venue.”

Vince and Andy have enjoyed a very successful career together since forming Erasure in 1985 in London. Vince had previously been a member of other bands including Yazoo (with Alison Moyet) and Depeche Mode. If the urban legend is to be believed, Vince was Andy’s musical hero before the singer auditioned to join the songwriter in the duo.

“I was just happy to hear he liked my music,” says Vince with modesty. From 1986 to 2007, Erasure achieved 24 consecutive Top 40 hits in the UK and won a BRIT Award.

While their last four albums have been “pop and dance records”, in Vince’s words, their most recent effort World Be Gone marks a shift in tempo and tone. In terms of influence, they’ve delved into their own back catalogue – and specifically 1995’s self-titled record.

“That album was full of slow, atmospheric songs,” says Vince. “It’s almost freeing to do it like that because you don’t have to worry about grooves and fitting lyrics into a certain format. To be honest, this has been one of the most enjoyable records we’ve ever done.”

The joy that Vince found in the album’s writing process is slightly at odds with the unsavoury themes that informed World Be Gone – namely, political upheaval. Vince and Andy, left-leaning musicians and staunch “remainers”, were left shocked at recent social developments.

“We share the same political views and values,” says Vince. “With Brexit, it was just so unexpected. The same with Trump. These things are actually quite good for songwriters, although they’re not very good for the world. As a lyricist you think, ‘I can write about this’. The music isn’t just about love like it was ten years ago.”

While the age of Trump is a particular fraught era, it’s not as if there haven’t been other periods of political crisis over the last 30 years. For such a long-running band as Erasure, why has it taken them so long to get political?

“Andy said the other day that we’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s only now we can think that our opinions are valid,” says Vince. “We’re wiser and our audiences are too. We can reflect on stuff we wouldn’t have done a decade ago.”

Vince insists he doesn’t want to alienate any of his fans with his political views, but, at the same time, one of the lyrics on the new record is “the world has lost its loving”. Surely Erasure followers will put two and two together and work out that Vince is anti-Trump, anti-Brexit?

“People do, that’s exactly what happens,” says Vince. “I do a Twitter account and I know that some of our fans aren’t democrats. If I get down to the pub and get my opinionated head on, I’m all about changing people’s opinions. But I’ve never been ready to do that in a song.”

He adds that “honesty is the key”, citing Andy’s openness about his sexuality as an example. The singer has become an icon in the LGBT community since the band’s conception. Vince keeps an eye on the modern music scene but says he never sees the merit in comparisons between Erasure and contemporary acts. “People say, ‘this new band sounds like you’ and I think it sounds nothing like us.”

Nonetheless, it seems inevitable that certain pop groups will have taken influence from Erasure in the same way that Vince was inspired by synth-based bands when he was in his twenties. Growing up in Basildon, Essex, Vince wasn’t exactly at the forefront of cutting-edge music but he remembers going to a punk festival at Chelmsford football club and being awestruck by The Sex Pistols’ Pretty Vacant.

“That is such a powerful record and wrapped up in my youth,” he says. “I was 17 and it was very rebellious, as all 17 year-olds are.” It was a little while before Vince became obsessed with the kind of electronic sounds he would later make. For a spell in his late teens and early adulthood, he was “more interested in girls”.

That was until he discovered OMD and The Human League in the 1980s and thought, “I really want to be part of this.” In a roundabout way, Vince was a founding member of Depeche Mode (the seminal band existed in various incarnations before then).

While life in the group was a deeply enriching experience for Vince, he has said he wasn’t so keen on the public-facing side of the job such as touring or interviews.

So why haven’t those factors had a detrimental impact on his work with Erasure? The secret to the band’s longevity, he says, is the enduring bond between the two members.

I’ve got Andy with me,” says Vince. “He’s doing all the work. I’m just there to support him and help him with his costumes.

“We’re like brothers - or like husband and wife sometimes."

Erasure, Brighton Dome, Monday, February 19, 7pm, For tickets and more information visit or call 01273 709709