Gary Kemp on Creating His First New Solo Album in 25 Years, “INSOLO”
Gary Kemp fondly recalls growing up as a dedicated teenage music lover in the early and mid-1970s, despite his commercial success and renown as the guitarist and principal songwriter for the popular British rock band Spandau Ballet beginning in the 1980s. David Bowie and Mick Ronson were two of his heroes at the time. Decades later, in “Waiting for the Band,” a sad and nostalgic song from his latest album INSOLO, he channeled the memories of his youth spent going to rock concerts.
“It became a tribute to my younger self, being a fan, and how maybe the young guy that I was has never left me,” he tells This website. I was sitting at the piano when something happened, and you went into a reverie. And then there’s this 13-year-old boy who’s brimming with excitement, who can’t wait to see a band he’s been looking forward to seeing, who’s completely enamored with his musical heroes. And it was I who began to write about him.”
The concept of dealing with and reconciling with one’s past is a major element on INSOLO, Kemp’s first new solo album in 25 years, which was released last week. Kemp had already conceived the majority of INSOLO’s songs while playing and touring as a member of Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets band before the release of lockdown last year. INSOLO was recorded remotely during the pandemic and features musicians such as Toby Chapman (who co-produced the new record with Kemp), Guy Pratt, Lee Harris, Ash Soan, and Kemp’s brother Martin.
“I’m allowed to be a little bit more expansive in the musicality when I’m left to my own devices and not having a band to frame my songs,” Kemp explains, referring to Spandau Ballet’s separation. I believe I went through a phase of creating material for Spandau Ballet’s comeback shows where I felt like I was just going through the motions. But it’s been difficult to get psyched about new music.”
INSOLO, like his debut solo album, Little Bruises, from 1995, is a personal record for him. This is a condensed version of the information.