Soul Boys of the Western World charts the formation, dramatic collapse and re-emergence of one of the most iconic bands of the 80s, Spandau Ballet, and it’s packed-full of frank commentary. Mainly, the band admits, because each member recorded the “confessional” commentaries that accompany the archive footage in isolation from one another.
“We were sort of in a darkened room. It was a confessional, therapeutic to get it out,” says Steve Norman. “I remember saying stuff because no one’s around. You wouldn’t have said this if you’d been surrounded by the rest of the guys.”
Steve admits that at points he turned to director George Hencken to see if a few of his lines should be taken out. “But she said, ‘No, that’s exactly what you should say.’ And that was the beauty of it.”
The band, made up of Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Steve Norman and John Keeble, certainly weren’t looking to shy away from the tougher parts of their history. Namely the often-mentioned (“You lot bring it up enough,” laughs Tony) High Court case, which saw Tony, Steve and John caught in a row over royalties with writer Gary.
“We don’t sit around discussing it every day,” chuckles Gary.
“It’s like, if you’re in a relationship and you split up, someone had an affair and then you got back together, you wouldn’t be discussing that affair every day, otherwise the relationship would fall apart again. But we are honest about it.”
“It’s not a comfortable period of our lives. But it happened. You can’t deny it, you can’t brush over it,” concurs Steve, with John adding, “You can’t un-know stuff.”
“I think one of the things that keeps the film really true, is the fact that it isn’t talking heads, it is audio only, because as soon as you are put in front of a camera, it’s kind of like somebody looking at you,” explains Martin. “And because it was in a darkened room with a microphone, you can kind of sit down and tell your truth, which I think made a big difference to the movie.
“The whole idea of it was to get everything out and give it to George and say, ‘You tell the story’. Because from a third party, they can tell the real story. It would have been sanitised otherwise,” adds Martin.
Indeed, if the band had got involved, “It would have been, ‘Oh, I don’t like that view of myself, I don’t like what I look like in that shot’, it would have been edited down to make us look really, really great,” says Tony.
“If we’d have done the editing you wouldn’t have been in it, Tony,” John teases.
The band has a heck of a lot going on right now with an ITV documentary coming up alongside a new album, which boasts three new songs, the film and a tour. But they admit, it wouldn’t have all come together had the history of the band not been what it is.
“The story wouldn’t be that interesting. It’d just be another band that just dribbled on,” says Martin.
There’s plenty of other stuff to talk about beside the “sad bits” too. Notably the amount of shots of the boys in their pants.
“I’m always in my pants,” says Tony. “Ten minutes before I’ve got to go on stage, I’m still in my pants.”
In fact, according to the others, after a gig it was usually a towel around his neck, pants, flip flops and a bottle of red wine.
Tony laughs, “There was more than 300 hours of footage to make this film from. 250 hours in our pants, obviously.”
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