SALT LAKE CITY — The Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey’s new solo album may be called “Science Fiction,” but don’t think it’s because the musician is a Trekkie.
“I'm absolutely not a science fiction fan,” Bailey said in an interview. “I don’t go to see the movies or read the books or the comics or whatever.”
So, why name an album after a popular genre that he doesn’t even like? Bailey is ready for that one.
“I’m a big fan of the idea that you can use futurism to bring a new focus on the present,” he said. “Science fiction is not about the future it’s about now. … It allows you to look at now in a different way.”
If it sounds like Bailey enjoys the ironic twist of the idea, it’s because he does.
“I’m British, so we do irony for breakfast,” he quips.
“Science Fiction” is Bailey’s first solo album and marks his return to pop music after nearly 30 years of self-imposed exile. He’s touring the U.S. with fellow-'80s icons Boy George, the Culture Club and the B52’s, and they’ll make a stop on Friday, Sept. 21, at West Valley City’s Maverik Center.
The Thompson Twins (who were neither twins nor named Thompson — rather, they named themselves after the bumbling detectives in the "Tintin" books) topped the charts in the U.S. and U.K. during the 1980s with hits including “Hold Me Now,” “Doctor Doctor,” “If You Were Here” and “Lay Your Hands on Me.” Band member Joe Leeway left the group in 1986, and the remaining Twins released their last single, “Play With Me,” in 1992. After the breakup, Bailey and his wife, fellow band member Alannah Currie, moved with their two young sons to Currie’s native New Zealand.
Bailey may not have remained in the public eye, but he kept busy pursuing creative projects he called “labors of love and things that were never going to make money for the record companies.” He partnered with an astronomer to encourage education through music in a project called BSP, created a musical experience to bring attention to pollution in the Ganges River with his Holiwater project, experimented with sensory musical experiences with International Observer and produced music for a New Zealand band called Stellar.
Bailey’s gradual return to pop began in 2014 when he signed on to tour with another '80s pop star, Howard Jones. He described the experience as “unexpectedly enjoyable” but found that in addition to performing old hits, he wanted to make new music.
“I missed the current creative challenge of it," he said. "So, rather than have it be all about nostalgia, I thought the next thing to do is to actually write some new songs.”
He began writing and producing new songs on his laptop as he toured and traveled, and the result is “Science Fiction,” released in July of this year.
Stylistically, the new album picks up where the Twins left off, and '80s fans will appreciate the upbeat vibe and contemplative lyrics of "What Kind of World" along with vintage Bailey wistfulness in ballads like "Blue."
Absent from the pop world after so much time, Bailey describes performing the Twins’ songs as an “emotional reunion."
“The '80s audience has now raised their own families and they’re free again to go out and they want to pick up where they left off with some songs they can sing along with,” he said.
Sometimes, they even bring their children along to his shows. “Poor kids,” Bailey said with a laugh, “dragged along by a parent. Some of them willingly, I hope.”
Parental nostalgia aside, '80s music has a significant number of fans among younger listeners, something that isn’t lost on Bailey, one of its creators.1 comment on this story
“Younger music lovers now have a much wider repertoire at their fingertips — they’ve got the entire recorded history of music on the internet,” he said. “And so, if the '80s is focused upon in any way as one of the things they choose, then it supports the idea that in some way it was a little golden moment of pop music. One of many of course, but it wasn’t just trash. There’s something kind of eternal about it which is being found again.”
If you go …
What: "The Life Tour" starring Boy George & the Culture Club and the B-52s with special guest Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey
When: Friday, Sept. 21, doors at 6 p.m., concert at 7 p.m.
Where: Maverik Center, 3200 S. Decker Lake Dr., West Valley City
How much: $49.50-$149.50