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One request leads to another: The Fixx turns over their set list to fans

The Fixx take the Tally Ho stage at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 7.Courtesy Photo
The ‘80s were good to The Fixx.

The UK-based band had several chart-topping hits, were early, steady MTV darlings, appeared in a Tina Turner music video and played sold-out venues all over the world.

The band’s biggest hits: “Stand or Fall,” “One Thing Leads to Another,” “Saved by Zero” and “Are we Ourselves?” among others, remain radio staples to this day.

The Fixx were part of the ‘80s music/new wave trend that spawned many popular bands – Duran Duran, the Psychedelic Furs, Thompson Twins, the Simple Minds – that put a softer edge on the quick-blazing but influential hardcore punk movement.

Today many ‘80s music bands are enjoying a renaissance, touring and playing to packed houses.

Is mere nostalgia behind this renewed interest?

Cy Curnin, the lead singer and songwriter of The Fixx, who’ll play the Tally Ho Theater Aug. 7, thinks so, in part. But also something more.

He says the popularity of the music, then and now, was a combination of a youthful embrace of a new kind of music to establish a unique cultural identity, quality audio in cars, as well as the new-found portability of music (the first Sony Walkman appeared in 1980). Curnin points out there were also less distractions than today, so music was more of the focus.

“Music was a really big thing to go to. To chill out. To step out of the system, to reflect and associate yourself spiritually without all the dogma,” he says.

The band, who’ve consistently played together for 35 years, also embraced the rebellious, post-punk spirit of the era, too. “We were like-minded guys. The black sheep of middle class families. We had an elegant education and we believed in word over weapon.”

And, of course, there was MTV, the first fully devoted music channel that had an enormous impact on the industry. It provided bands a world-wide medium to lay down a narrative behind their songs, which led to some memorable, and some not so much, music videos.

“It opened up the application of what a song could be,” says Curnin. “MTV was really the first national radio station.”

A music video that generated buzz, regardless of the song’s musical merit, could instantly launch a band into stardom. Cruelly, it could just as quickly banish them to obscurity – the infamous “one-hit wonders” so commonly mentioned in the same breath as ‘‘80s music.”

The Fixx didn’t have that problem, though. They emerged as one of the more consistent bands of the period, recording one successful hit after another throughout the ‘80s.

Curnin says The Fixx’s unique sound comes from a mélange of the band’s favorite musicians of the time, including the Talking Heads, Roxy Music and David Bowie. He adds that the distinct, easily recognizable sound of ‘80s music was also the result of new technologies, particularly synthesizers, as well as inventive and ambitious studio producers.

Curnin says the clean, spatial sound of that time – he refers to it as “audio chakras” – was the direct result of these innovations. “It created huge panoramas, like cinema for the blind,” he says. “The technology gave us that extra bit of sound. We added some poetry and a steady beat and off we went. We had a huge ride.”

Today the band’s keeping it interesting for old and new audiences alike by encouraging fans to use social media to request songs in advance, which the band uses to create each show’s unique set list.

Naturally, the band’s top hits are requested, but Curnin says savvy fans are also digging into the band’s catalogue seeking out rarities and B-sides, too. As an example, he says the band had to recently re-learn an obscure cover they once recorded of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking.”

In addition to being enthusiastically embraced by fans, Curnin says this new approach keeps things fresh and challenging for the band, helping avoid the staleness so common to playing the same songs every night during a tour.

“It’s been great for our brains,” says Curnin. “It’s really woken us up.”

If you go:
Who: The Fixx
When: Doors open, 7:30 p.m.; show, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Tally Ho Theatre, Leesburg
Tickets: $34
http://www.tallyholeesburg.com.
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