■ The singer, 62, on the apocalyptic state of the world, never slowing down and being an icon for other artists
Tell us about your forthcoming new album, Chaos And A Dancing Star?
I’m always super critical of my work but I’m excited about this album because I’ve lived with it for a while. Chris Braide, who produces and plays most of the instruments, and I are both closet prog-rock fans so we thought we’d do something along those lines. But when I got signed to BMG they took me in a different direction so we did the Shadows And Reflections record, which I loved. Then we got back to Chaos And A Dancing Star. It was a long journey but I’m happy with it.
Wasn’t Shadows And Reflections your highest-charting solo album?
I don’t know because I never look! I don’t get bogged down by those kind of things. Unless you’re a mega artist you can’t rely on record sales — you have to go out and play live. When I did songs like Tainted Love or Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart, they were massive-selling records. There were only a couple of radio stations to listen to and we all watched Top Of The Pops — if you weren’t on it, that was it. Now there are loads of radio stations and you make a video for YouTube, your website or social media. It’s a whole different ballgame.
Some of the songs on your new album, like Lord Of Misrule, are very apocalyptic…
Yes. I’m in my 60s now and you look at the world around you and feel there’s this terrible sense of end of days about everything. The world is going through a big change, as am I. I’m at this strange place where you start to think about mortality and what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, whether it’s for decades or like David Bowie, who died at 69.
Chaos And A Dancing Star plays on a Nietzsche quote…
I don’t know an awful lot about Nietzsche as a philosopher but I just love the quote, ‘You have to have chaos in your life to give birth to a dancing star’. I take it to mean that out of turmoil and chaos comes something wonderful, bright and creative. I feel like I’m creating something positive out of all that’s going on around me.
Do you still love performing?
I always joke that I love being on stage so much that I act like I am even when I’m not! People say, ‘Aren’t you going to slow down?’ but I can’t. I feel like I have to say yes to everything because in five years’ time I might not be able to. I feel an acceleration of everything and these strange times bring out my inner pagan. I want to get that connection back with earthly things. I’m becoming a hippy again, like I was growing up in Southport. I’ve lived in London for 38 years and I’m kind of falling out of love with it. When I was younger I had loads of lung problems and they’re all coming back until I can get out of London and breathe again. I’m drawn back to the seaside.
Is it also an effect of having a near-death experience?
Partly. The accident left me with a few problems, which is why I work a lot with Headway, a wonderful charity for people who have had brain injuries, like me when I had my motorbike accident [in 2004]. I had a right-hand-side head injury and that leaves you with memory and emotional problems. But I hate it when people become victims. I always thought I’d be good in the Army because I’m very stoic.
How did Tainted Love change your life?
I never expected it to happen. Soft Cell were signed under sufferance. We had this electronic club record, Memorabilia, that did OK so they thought, Well, the singer’s weird and probably gay, and the keyboard player looks like a psychotic who might knife you, but they could take off so let’s just sign them. It was safer to do a cover version and the radio went mad over it. We went in at number nine, sandwiched between Shakin’ Stevens’ Green Door and Aneka’s Japanese Boy, then got to No.1.
You’ve inspired so many people and artists. How does that feel?
It’s quite a nice thing because that’s what keeps music going on. I had my inspirations growing up and I always thought someone like David Bowie taught me much more about life than my teachers did. When I read interviews with him and other artists about what films, music or books they liked, it led me on an interesting pathway. Bowie showed there was a whole other life out there.
Do you think artists are a bit bland nowadays?
I do, actually. A lot of artists now are photocopies of photocopies. It’s why nostalgia and retro is eternally popular. It’s hard to be very original. I occasionally get excited — I love FKA Twigs and Lana Del Rey, and just listened to Beck and really liked that.
■ Marc Almond’s new album, Chaos And A Dancing Star, is out on January 31 on BMG, headway.org.uk