Andy Bell: On My Culture Radar
The Erasure frontman on his cultural favourites and recommendations
Erasure: Vince Clarke and Andy Bell
Current favourite book
I’ve just finished Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. That was out about 15 years ago, but it’s quite a thick book and took me a while to get through. It’s about life in India, and a young guy who moves to Delhi, but it’s impossible for him to find work. It’s one of those books that reminds you how fortunate you really are. We bitch about trivial stuff in our day-to-day life, but then you read about other people’s lives and the struggle they have to go through every single day.
I caught two episodes of Silent Witness, which I enjoyed. Generally, I like those cold Scandinavian dramas and ones where things don’t really happen; I hate fast editing in modern movies, I’d rather have slowness.
My partner lives in Miami, and just around the corner from us there’s a place called Semilla. They do really nice pan-fried duck with duck-fat fries, which I love. One time when I was recording with Vince [Clarke, also in Erasure] in Maine where he lives, and we came across a place called Duck Fat. All it did was sell fries in duck fat, with all these different sauces. I put on so much weight from going there, I ended up having to ban myself from it.
I like the old-style comedians. Dare I say Bernard Manning, who was quite homophobic but some of his jokes were really good. I know they were tasteless, awful things, but that’s how it used to be. When I was little, we used to go to the Post Office Club in Peterborough, and the culture and humour there was similar. Bernard was on the TV all the time, and so was Dave Allen, who was also brilliant and clever.
On tour, we have a milk frother, which I’m really impressed with. It’s fewer calories than a latte and makes coffee look pretty.
One play that stands out in my mind was with [Game of Thrones actor] Jonathan Pryce, who was my old neighbour in Highgate, London. He was in a play called The Goat by Edward Albee, produced by Jonathan’s wife. It was a story about him falling for his goat. It was so powerful and he’s an amazing actor. People acting in films isn’t the same as on stage – it’s so visceral, you can see them spitting and their veins popping out of their head.
My partner and I were in a gallery in Las Vegas and there were Warhols there next to Takashi Murakamis, the Japanese artist who does smiley faces. We were struck by his work. Some of them are really happy, but some have dark undertones. We saw one of a big black man staring with bloodshot eyes, painted onto an iridescent background. We’ve got it in our bedroom, so we wake up to it in the morning.
I like old-school Hollywood, and Bette Davis is my favourite, she’s just so evil.
Hamburg in Germany. It’s a great place to walk around, and there’s a real beauty to the place. It’s safe, there’s loads of places to visit, and there are a lot of second-hand clothes there that sell really good stuff. I lived there for about six months when we recorded the Chorus album in 1990. We play there quite a lot, but I don’t know people there anymore.
Erasure play rescheduled dates at the Olympia, Dublin, on March 13th, 14th and 15th