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Rick Astley

January 2009

HE has been ski-ing in Zurich for a few days when we catch up but Rick Astley hasn't slipped back in to retirement.
The singer who famously quit the music industry in the early-90s because he couldn't handle the attention is in his second year of a comeback.
Well, comeback is too strong a word.
"It's more of a weekend job," says the 42-year-old.
"I've been singing my old songs again and doing these 80s things... but it's not my plan to record a new album."
And why not?
"The music business is really difficult at the moment. There's a lot of big artists who put a record out and it doesn't really do anything so for someone like me to do that again...
"Unless you are 100% into it and you're going to commit absolutely everything in your life to it, you don't really stand a chance because that's what everyone else is doing. And I'm just not in that frame of mind."
The nostalgia shows, be it on the Here & Now Tour – which he was on when it came to Nottingham's Arena last year – or on his own, have taken him around the world.
"I don't think U2 would consider it a lot of time on the road," he laughs.
Last year Astley was in the US quite a bit and performed in New York as part of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In the coming weeks he'll be doing a few shows in Canada, Chile and the Dominican Republic.
"And that's enough to be honest; I'm very comfy with it all."
A few extra dates have been added to his diary for May as he'll be back on the Here & Now Tour, as a replacement for Boy George, who was jailed for 15 months last week for a "humiliating" attack on a male escort.
Just to check, you don't have any court cases pending, do you?
"I don't, no. I think it's really sad all of that. I was probably about 15 when Do You Really Want Hurt Me? came out and it was just brilliant. We're so used to androgyny now and guys wearing make-up but he brought that in to the mainstream.
"I know he's had a bit of a rough ride over the years with different things because he's a bit of character but at least he's a proper pop star. I was unbelievably boring compared to him.
"That's sometimes what music lacks a little bit, people like him, real characters."
He adds: "It's sad to think of him locked up. He's unbelievably bright and you often find with really bright people they have a bit of a dark side. Normal life probably bores him."
Astley didn't have to think too long whether to do the tour when the offer came in.
"I did it last year and I actually enjoyed it. To be honest I find it really easy."
Nottingham was the first gig on that tour.
"I know I would be saying this but the audience were amazing. Really up for it."
For Here & Now he'll be joining fellow stars of the Eighties including Kim Wilde, Howard Jones, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, Altered Images, Brother Beyond and Hazel O'Connor.
"I'm friendly with them but they're not exactly bosom buddies.
"They all seem to have a good perspective on their life and where they are. Grateful is a bit too strong but we're all glad that we can do this. To be honest it's nice to earn some money."
Astley's ambitions lay in film, recently finishing a screenplay for a musical set in New York during the Eighties.
"I started writing a few tunes a couple of years ago. I've got a studio at home. I don't do it professionally any more but I enjoy it. And a couple of the tunes kind of spoke to me. They're like little stories if you like. And my wife's a film producer so I'm around scripts quite a lot.
"We're now in the process of trying to get a director and get the money together."
Has she cast a professional eye over your work?
"For sure. Just because I sleep with the producer it doesn't mean I get off easy."
He adds: "I'm not fooling myself. It could come to nothing but I've really enjoyed it. And also it's good to get my teeth in to something because I've kind of been retired for a long time."
That was in 1993 after he'd enjoyed six years of hits, starting with Never Gonna Give You Up which bolted from the Stock Aitken And Waterman stable to the top of the UK charts. It also toped the US chart.
Other hits included When I Fall in Love and Together Forever.
After his fourth album failed to make the chart he disappeared into a self-imposed retirement.
Since he's been back in action, Astley has inadvertently hit the headlines. First with an internet campaign, since labelled Rick Rolling, that resulted in him beating Elvis, The Beatles and everyone else for MTV's Best Act Ever Award.
And only this week he's been in the news again, thanks to Lily Allen, who mistakenly sent a topless picture of herself to Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs. When asked about it she joked that she had meant to send it to Rick Astley.
"Well she's not," he laughs, admitting he's not heard the story.
Would he want a topless photo of Lily Allen?
"I think I've seen one to be honest. They're everywhere aren't they?"
He adds: "I have genuinely never courted this attention. I've had a very quiet life in the past 15 years in terms of the papers. They've just left me alone. And I'm glad about that."

The Here And Now Tour 2009, Arena, Saturday, May 16

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