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Interview: Level 42

By Editor
August 10, 2008

level42Level 42, one of the biggest and most popular bands of the 80s, are back on the road and heading to Plymouth Pavilions on Saturday 18th October as part of a 20 date tour of the UK.

Led by ever-present band-leader multi-talented bass maestro Mark King the group will feature Gary Husband, Lyndon Connah, Nathan King, Sean Freeman and original keyboardist Mike Lindup.

To date the band and Mark have released 14 studio albums, 7 live albums, 6 compilation albums; have had 18 top 40 singles including ‘Lessons in Love’, ‘Something About You’, ‘Leaving Me Now’, ‘Running in the Family’, and ‘Hot Water’; have sold out Wembley for a total of 21 nights and have sold in excess of 30 million albums worldwide. In short, Level 42 proved to be one of the biggest British bands of the 80s and the recent emergence of DVD as a major format has seen a host of re-masters and releases from Universal Music, Studio Hamburg, and River Records among others.

We managed to get a brief insight on what is happening with Level 42 with an exclusive interview with Mark King

Hi Mark, Level 42 are back on the road this October with a UK major tour! Are you looking forward to playing live?

Hi Colin Yes we are, we are in this bi-annual touring situation at the moment, we sort of do a year then we have a year off and then we go out on the road again and I think that kind of keeps things fresh and interesting for everybody concerned, we are playing 20 shows around the UK right the way through October.  We have been busy through the summer too – we’ve been doing festivals, I think we have done 7 or 8 festivals so far and we have got another 4 to go but the reaction we get has been great, we are all really enjoying it

It Sounds like you’re keeping busy

Yeah it’s great – I can’t complain.  I will be 50  years old this year and if anybody had said to me that you will still be shuffling around on stage, middle aged I’d have said you’ve got to be kidding – but here I am and I am thoroughly enjoying it. In fact we are loving every minute on stage.

Do you still enjoy the tours as much as you did when you first started out?  Does playing live still give you that buzz?

I enjoy the gigs more & more – I really do.  I don’t know if it is because the pressure isn’t as intense as it was back in the day, when we were trying to make it!  Having records high in the charts is kind of behind us now and that is fine – that is how it should be really.  But I think not having the pressure of having to come up and do that sort of thing gives you a lot more time to smell the roses as it were and I know that I speak for the rest of the guys in the band too that we enjoy it more than we ever did.

When you are starting off you are trying to prove yourself and it is about getting the money in, you don’t like to say that but now you just enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Yes that’s right – you are so heads down and intent on cracking this career thing and getting it going but then before you look around 10 years have shot by and that is not really the way to live your life.  It is far nicer now.

I’ve got four children – one of them is 11 but the other 3 are all grown up, graduated University and you just think where did that time go.

Level 42 has been such a big part of the UK music scene.  As you are going out on tour how on earth do you pick from the huge back catalogue you have got.

It is not the easiest thing to do and I am always very conscious of the fact that the fans that do come out a see us and have been with us for many years.  This time when we go out on the road  I have actually posted on the website a poll for people to choose three of their favourite songs from any period of ours over the years and if we get special numbers of votes for them then I am very happy to put them in the set.  It is all about playing what the audience want to hear from us and I don’t have a problem doing that at all so it is kind of half up to them and half up to us.

Sounds like a great way to get the involvement of the fans as well!

Yes I hope so – but somebody got a bit carried away on it two or three weeks ago and put in 600 votes  for the same song which kind of ruined everything – so you do get the over enthusiastic ones that can spoil things a bit.

It is great to see Mike Lindup back in the band.  Both you and Mike have been the nucleus of Level 42 – Is it good to have Mike back?

Yes it is wonderful having Mike in – He is such a talented guy and I thank that that has been the talent of Level 42 over the years – that we have always had members come and go and I am always very proud of the level of musicianship that is involved within the band but there is none better then Mike Lindup – he is quite unique and he only sounds like him when he sings and he has a wonderful way on the keyboard so it is always a joy to play with him.

The one thing that has always the signature of Level 42 is the way that bass guitar is played.  How on earth did you learn to play the bass guitar like that?

It is really like drumming on the bass guitar.  I use both hands and when I first started out I did want to be a drummer and I do still enjoy playing drums to this day.  A lot of my hero’s are drummers from past and present and so when I finally took the bass up which was quite late – I did it when I was 21 years old, when the band began – it just felt very natural for me to play it in this percussion way and fortunately the timing was right in the business that people wanted to hear this sort of music.

It is an awesome sound – what is the actual correct terminology – Is it plucking?

Well it is called Slapping or Thumping

Your tour starts on the 4th October and you are going to be down at the Plymouth Pavillions on the 18th October – any message for your fans in the South West?

We have had some great nights in Plymouth in the past so I don’t think this will be any different, we are really looking forward to Playing Plymouth, and the support has always been great in South West.

Thanks Mark, its been great talking to you, Have a great tour and we all look forward to seeing you at Plymouth Pavilions.

There is no doubt that Level 42 are in a league of their own – not only are they a bunch of hugely talented musicians, the song writing is brilliant and they are nothing far short of a total inspiration.  Long may it continue!

For more information on how to buy tickets check out the website or contact the Box Office on 0845 146 1460

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