Marc Almond: I was terrified at idea of writing music with Jools Holland

Marc Almond has said he was “terrified” by the idea of writing songs with Jools Holland for their new collaborative album.

The Soft Cell frontman and the musician have joined forces for their first joint record, comprising cover versions and some original songs, after years of touring and performing together.

However, despite their long working relationship, the thought of creating fresh material with composer Holland was daunting for Almond, as it was unlike anything he had done before, and he doubted himself.

He told the Press Association: “We had a great writing process. But, quite honestly, when someone told me I’d be going round to see Jools, working at the piano on some songs, the idea absolutely terrified me.

Jools Holland and Marc Almond to release album
Jools Holland and Marc Almond, A Lovely Life To Live (Mary McCartney/Warner Music Entertainment)

“I’d never written songs with someone like that before, I’d always have someone sending me a backing track or a rough demo and I’d write lyrics to them and I’d never even actually been in the same room as them at the same time, a lot of the time.

“So I thought, ‘I’m not going to be able to do this, I’ve never had this experience’.”

Almond, whose music career has spanned 40 years and includes more than 20 solo albums, added: “But it was a great experience, writing with Jools.

“I’d bring along a few rough old lyrics and I’d sing a little bit of a song and Jools would instantly know how that felt.

“We both have that British sensibility of pop music and a history of music, and we brought that knowledge of writing together.”

He said that Holland, best known for his BBC Two music show and his annual Hootenanny for late night new year’s revellers, would “instantly” come up with a tune that “fitted my words brilliantly”.

Holland said: “I was very surprised at how easily and quickly we made things happen.

“I put that down, partly to our early training in British punk music, where you have a ‘we’ve just got to do this’ sort of attitude.

“And partly because of a love and determination. It was very comfortable and easy to write, and I was surprised at what fun it all was, really.

“There was lots of laughter, not many tears at all.”

Almond added that being able to write material with Holland was a chance for him to “leave my cynicism at the door”.

“If I’m writing a Soft Cell song, for example, there’s a certain amount of satirical cynicism there, a sort of disillusioned romantic.”

Almond and Holland’s new album A Lovely Life To Live, which comes after the duo have performed together on and off for more than a decade, features a handful of original songs, including I Lost My City, Workhouse Blues and London You Were My Lover.

There are also a number of cover versions, including a reworked, big-band version of Soft Cell hit Tainted Love.

A Lovely Life To Live is available now on CD and digital formats.

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