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SFM Public Relations
Phil Oakey of Human League feels the music world turned a corner in the 1980s.

When MTV first hit the airwaves in 1981, one of the staple bands was the Human League.

The band's trademark song, "Don't You Want Me," from the No. 1 album "Dare," found itself imbedded in the pop-music culture and is still recognized today by music fans of all ages.

"I think the music world turned a corner at that time," Human League singer/keyboardist Phil Oakey said during a phone interview from a recording studio in Sheffield, England. "It was around that same time that synthesizers became available to the regular people like me. And for some reason that was the time we decided to form a band."

Contrary to what most people think, the Human League — Oakey, Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley — never stopped doing shows. In fact, one of the group's biggest audiences was at the Hollywood Bowl back in 2006, where the band performed for 18,000 people.

"That's one of the challenges we face today," Oakey said about misconceptions that the band is no longer together. "The music business has changed so much in the last decade that it gets harder and harder for us to get our music out to people.

"Even now in my own hometown, someone will run into me at a store and say, 'Do you guys ever play live?' It's a bit disturbing, but it's the way things are. And that's why tours like the 'Regeneration Tour' are important for us."

Oakey said the band's last studio album, "Secrets," was the first Human League album that didn't reach the Top 30 of the United Kingdom music charts.

"That took us aback for a bit," said Oakey. "We realized that we have to find different ways to get our music to people. And to be honest, listeners have grown older. They don't go out of their way to find music like they did when they were teens."

Still, that doesn't stop the Human League from making new music.

"We're recording a new album, and it's halfway finished," said Oakey. "We don't have a label and don't have a distribution plan, yet. But I'm lucky to have been playing music my whole life, and the set we do for the tour will be for the fans. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't be here."

AS FOR BELINDA CARLISLE, the '80s were a special time for her fans who were first introduced to her as the lead singer for the Go-Go's.

"Most of the songs I'll sing during the show embody a certain time for the audience," said Carlisle during a phone call from a hotel in Hawaii. The music means so much to a lot of people. And it's nice to know that I play a part in their lives."

Carlisle said she enjoys '80s tours because the music was fun.

"They made people smile," said Carlisle about '80s music in general. "It was a different time and a different mind-set. And when we take the music on the road, it brings that fun to life again.

"I've done shows with ABC before and really liked what it did for the audience."

Carlisle, who has had a successful solo career after the Go-Go's, said her set will be a rundown of her career.

"It's funny because the show is set up with 30- to 40-minute sets and the bands get up there and play their hits," she said. "I'll play a lot from my solo career and throw in a few Go-Go's tunes."

Carlisle said she is, however, at a point where she doesn't have to worry about how record companies or the audience perceive her.

"I don't have to worry about being competitive," she said. "I can basically decide what kind of CD to do. Last year I recorded a French album ("Viola") because France has inspired me. I've lived there for the past 15 years, and I thought it would be great to release an all-French album. It was a labor of love and very fulfilling to me.

"Some of the people who bought it understood what I was doing and others didn't. But it didn't bother me, because I did the CD because I was inspired. And that's what I like about where I am right now. I can do things because I get inspired and not because I have to, or that the record label wants me to do something. Although I am getting word that the record company (Ryko) wants me to do an English album now."

The bottom line, however, is that Carlisle is happy at where she is in life.

"I love the fact that people still love what I'm doing and they have been with me from the beginning," she said. "I have many things I'd like to do in the future, but I won't bore you with those. But I will tell you that if something inspires me, you can be sure that I'll do something about it."


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