About Psychedelic Furs
From the late 1970’s into the 90’s, the Psychedelic Furs earned tremendous respect from critics and fans alike for their music’s mix of punk rock, poetic lyricism and seductive rhythmic hooks. Fronted by vocalist and chief songwriter Richard Butler, the Furs built a reputation as one of the most riveting musical forces to come out of the early 80’s post-punk, new wave era. The band charted big hits with “Love My Way”, “Pretty in Pink”, “Heaven”, “The Ghost in You”, and “Heartbreak Beat”, in all releasing seven studio albums on Columbia and spawning several compilations, a box set, and a live concert DVD in 2001.
In their finest moments on albums, including 1981’s Talk, Talk, Talk and 1984’s Mirror Moves, Butler’s husky vocals and often-brooding lyrics ingeniously intertwined with the edgy musical textures provided by brother Tim Butler on bass and John Ashton on guitar. And in addition to a strong amount of mainstream Top 40 airplay, the Furs remained an innovative and adventurous force in early alternative music and maintained a steady presence on college radio.
Through it all, Butler’s baritone became one of the 80’s most recognizable sounds, often managing to be both introspective and aloof at the same time. It was quirky and darkly cynical faire that expressed the detachment of the times and the itchy struggle of a generation to find meaning in the turbulent headwaters of what would later become the dawn of Information Age. Gaining much of their fame as part of MTV’s first wave of video artists, Butler and company will be forever identified with a time when the stale musical paradigms of 70’s were forever cast aside and replaced by the new rock of an angrier and faster world.
Throughout the Furs’ reign, critics routinely compared the group’s enigmatic sound to an impressive slew of art-rock icons including David Bowie, the Velvet Underground and the Doors, as well as to punk progenitors, the Sex Pistols. Growing heavier and more guitar-oriented in their later releases, the Furs have since been regarded as a musical icon that bridged the gap between early punk and the alternative hard rock and grunge that would rise during the 90’s.
After twelve years of recording and touring, Butler and the other band members grew tired of being the Psychedelic Furs and in 1991, they decided to go their own ways. “It was really very amicable,” Butler recalls. “We had been doing it for so long that the process became predictable. I think we all wanted to do different things. We had a great run, but after you’ve been playing “Pretty in Pink” almost every night for ten years, things are bound to feel pretty old. There weren’t any surprises left, so we moved on.”
In 1994, Butler formed a new band called Love Spit Love. The group recorded two albums and met with moderate success, but never captured the sort of loyal following the Furs had enjoyed. In 1998, Butler became a new father, and the artist who was once described as a wiser Johnny Rotten and a sober Jim Morrison decided to concentrate on being a parent. Spending much of his time at home in upstate New York, Butler expressed his artistic talent in other ways, and has since become a critically acclaimed painter. But the music remained, and Butler is currently finishing up production on his first solo project, along with producer Jon Carin.
During the Furs’ decade-long hiatus, guitarist John Ashton was also busy, producing and performing with the likes of Marianne Faithful, Mercury Rev and Red Betty, among others. Like both Butler brothers, Richard and Tim, Ashton says he too is excited about the future with the Psychedelic Furs. Together again, and along with keyboardist Amanda Kramer, and Love Spit Love alumnus Frank Ferrer on drums, the Furs are aggressively and enthusiastically charging ahead. In addition to live shows in both North America and Europe later this year, the Psychedelic Furs will begin work on their first new studio album in over a decade.
With a career spanning the rise and fall of punk, MTV, glam metal, grunge and hip-hop, Butler is happy to be in a position to communicate with an audience. “As long as there are people who enjoy music and have fun going to shows, there’ll be a place in the world for artists who try to do something interesting and different,” he says. “I don’t really think you can change the world making music, but it sure is nice to think that you can enable people to have a good time.”
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