Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

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Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby GrandsonofJoCallis » Thu Dec 22, 2016 5:13 pm

So, now the tour is over, a question.

Do we know whether Philip is actually writing material anymore? Huge amounts of the brilliant Secrets were written by Oakey and Sutton. Huge amounts of the pretty good Credo were written by Oakey/Barton. Barton and Sutton are still in the band with Phil. What gives here? Its been nearly six years since Credo now. Sutton was interviewed recently by Pansermanch but he was never asked if Phil is still writing songs or recording any tunes. How come? What about interviewing Rob Barton? Why is there such a wall of silence about this? Surely as active musicians Sutton and Barton must over the last six years have come up with a little synth riff and thought, here's the basis of a human league song. So do they go to Phil and he say...(i) No thanks...got to take the dog for a walk, okay (ii) lets fiddle but tell no one because I can't bear the build up of expectations. A few of the people on the forum have seemingly had drinks with various members of the league at different points. Are they all swore to secrecy about new material or has it come some big elephant in the room/we don't talk about it because Phil ain't don't nothing for years situation?
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby DevinSpice » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:10 pm

I don't have the answers you're looking for. I was able to briefly talk to Phil and Joanne after Jo Callis' show in Glasgow, but I didn't ask about new material. The reason I didn't ask was because I wanted to comment on the current activity, which was the tour and particularly that night's show that I saw. As I said, I can't speak for the band, but as a musician myself here is what I know. Touring and performing live takes a huge deal of concentration, effort, and energy. When my band was playing a lot of shows, I put all my creative energy into that, and none was left over really for writing/recording. To get into the proper headspace for creating, one should ideally not be distracted by other activities. So if I was Phil, I would not be writing new material during a tour, or the preparations for a tour. Since THL essentially tour about 4 months of the year with the summer festivals and winter tours, and probably rehearse for at least 2 more months, that leaves half of the year to work on writing. Considering that they probably also have other things going on in their lives, and the relatively lukewarm reception they have gotten for their last two albums (amazing as we know they are, the general public was not very well aware of them), I would say it would make sense if Phil didn't spend all that much time writing anymore. I would guess that he still does anyway, and I imagine that there are tons of demos in various stages sitting around their studio. It's up to him if and when those demos get finished and ultimately released. I think when he writes things that he feels are up to the standards of The Human League, that's when he gets in gear and is productive. Having said all that, I very much hope there will be new material someday, but I understand that as a person grows older and becomes more comfortable in life, there's often less inspiration to write about. I thought "Secrets" was so great because perhaps the band members were having some crisis of identity and doubt, which can lead to very strong artistic statements. By the time "Credo" was released, they had become a pretty well-oiled machine with touring and performing, and were perhaps less worried about the future. As as result, I don't find the lyrics to be as compelling as they were on "Secrets" but it's still a solid album. So, here's hoping that Phil is able to find some inspiration in this crazy, messed up world we're currently living in.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby GrandsonofJoCallis » Thu Dec 22, 2016 9:17 pm

Thanks Devin. That's a really spot on and insightful reply.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby cs15 » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:11 pm

I have no idea whatsoever if they are recording or not. As a League fan you hope they are working on new material but never expect it appear anytime soon. It's just part of being a fan. Philip has stated in the past that he wanted The League's 10 album to have contributions from all past members. At the time we thought has was talking about a new 10th studio album but it may have been the Anthology album that he was referring to.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby Stig Olsen » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:14 am

I never dared ask - never really thought about it - found it rude, perhaps. I guess it's a matter of respect not talking "work" when he is on a break. I'm pretty sure he got many ideas lurking and probably also some demos in the works, but I honestly don't know. I'm guessing that if anyone asked him directly, he would smile and say "yeah...but it's rubbish" - then another smile, and that would be the end of that question! :p
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby Panzermensch » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:58 am

There's no elephant in the room. With the gap between releases these days I think most fans have resigned to the fact that there may not be more new material from THL. Oakey has been very public in his view that he has become disillusioned with the record industry (incl that the album format is dead) and I guess that has blunted his creativity. But since there was 10 years between the last 2 albums he has still has roughly 5 years to come up with the goods ;)
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby sarah t » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:22 am

A very interesting and enjoyable thread with the best post by DevinSpice who offers fantastic clarity to the situation.

Yeah I'd love to hear [and buy] something new on CD from the band but personally I'm not over optimistic that there is any more to come, particularly after what DevinSpice said about how much commitment touring places on musicians. :/

Hopefully in the new year I'll have put enough pennies together to nab a copy of the Anthology! :)
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby Electric Dream » Fri Dec 23, 2016 12:53 pm

I'd reckon that Phil is probably always working on something new....but whether it comes to anything or ever sees the light of day is another story!
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby GrandsonofJoCallis » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:15 pm

Great responses. But Panzermensch...on Philip's recent statements about being disillusioned with the record industry etc. Don't we need to counter-balance this with the claim he has made, many times in interviews that he could imagine the HL being just like Peter Hamill and just going on forever recording and releasing material as and when in formal and informal forms? Obviously this is a bit hard to square with the reality which is that they have never actually done this. Still. Sort of gives out some hope. More generally, to be 60 now is the new late 40s. Philip in very good shape and there is still a pretty decent tour audience for his work. Its not as if they are just playing pubs. They just had a sell out tour. They now have a web infrastructure. I can't really work out though why this isn't better maximized for audience building. The outtakes off Anthology along with other stuff ...Millions, Weekend, Into the Grove could easily have been drip leaked on You Tube over the last five years to maintain interest and cultivate further interest on the Facebook page (who mostly are greatest hits people) ...How hard is it to commit to doing either one new track or a cover each tour? I would have though that the co-writers in the band would have some sense of how the creative process goes down.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby GrandsonofJoCallis » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:18 pm

On the Jo Callis after gig - was there any decent music played there that we haven't heard yet that have HL potential. The only track I had not heard of from the 6 or so song set list that some guy listed on the Facebook page was called "Beauty"? What did it sound like?
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby Knowlesy » Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:25 pm

This is a brilliant discussion. Well my understanding is that for most, if not all of their career, they don't make announcements regarding the recording of new material until it's well under way at least. Weren't most of us surprised to hear when Credo was about to be released? Clearly Philip is a perfectionist and releasing high quality material is important to him. Of course it's frustrating that more material hasn't been released. I was only thinking recently about a quote from an interview around the Credo era when they referred to 'one day' we'll release such and such and do this and that. We've been saying that for years etc. I know that's vague but I'm sure you understand the point I'm making. Pretty sure Joanne said words to that effect. Not the first time they have referred to that but perhaps the most recent reference I recall. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think all of the shows on the Dare! tour 2007 were recorded (audio) and a show was meant to be filmed too. I don't think there is any secrecy about the recording of new material at all. I'm pretty confident that they have confirmed in interviews this year that they are not working on new material at present but they don't rule out it happening again. So as with most good things in life it's better to live in hope I believe.

I'm very grateful for all of the early and different versions released on the Anthology. Like most of us here I would dearly love for more of the unreleased material from the archives to be released.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby SubHuman » Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:57 pm

Yeah, I wasn't expecting anything when Credo was announced and was pretty gob smacked. An album of covers would be nice if there's nothing new from Philip and the musicians. We can always hope.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby cs15 » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:11 pm

Oh no. Please not a covers album. Never heard a covers album that I liked. Bottom of the barrel stuff usually.

Now a Philip Oakey solo album OR a Philip Oakey retrospective album with all of his collaborations with a few new tracks in for good measure would be very welcome in 2017
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby JJ » Sat Dec 24, 2016 1:27 am

DevinSpice wrote:Touring and performing live takes a huge deal of concentration, effort, and energy. When my band was playing a lot of shows, I put all my creative energy into that, and none was left over really for writing/recording. To get into the proper headspace for creating, one should ideally not be distracted by other activities. So if I was Phil, I would not be writing new material during a tour, or the preparations for a tour.


Great post Devin, and as others have said, insightful and - I suspect - pretty close to the truth. I say that based on a conversation I had with PO 5 years ago. It was in Norwich after they'd just done the first show of their new tour, a little while before Credo was released. In the show they'd included Electric Shock and (I think) Night People, but right from the start of the show plenty of things were going wrong.

A couple of hours after it had finished feelings were still running a little high, and PO was lamenting the problems they'd had. In particuar he said that maybe he'd taken his eye off the ball (in respect of the live show) because of the time he'd taken writing / recording / dealing with the new album. My reply to him was that to remain relevant, I felt that any band - not just THL - had to release something new now and then, otherwise they may just end up being the best tribute band (effectively of themselves.) I don't know whether I'm right or not, but I know that's how I feel about it.

By the way, I'm with cs15 - can't bear covers!! OK for the occasional live one, but quite frankly I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than listen to an album of them.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby SubHuman » Sat Dec 24, 2016 1:45 am

JJ wrote:...By the way, I'm with cs15 - can't bear covers!! OK for the occasional live one, but quite frankly I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than listen to an album of them.


Yes, but I bet you'd buy an album of covers by THL, let's give Philip the credit for picking some good songs to cover. After all the covers done by THL Mk 1 were pretty good.

I also thought that Devin made a very good point.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby cs15 » Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:08 am

In fairness I think Mr Ware picked those covers. I'm sure Phil has mentioned that several times.

Just Be Good To Me & Human Nature were great choices though. And I'd still love to hear their take on 'Into The Groove' but a whole albums worth? Noooooo!
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby JJ » Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:36 am

SubHuman wrote:
JJ wrote:...By the way, I'm with cs15 - can't bear covers!! OK for the occasional live one, but quite frankly I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than listen to an album of them.


Yes, but I bet you'd buy an album of covers by THL


I'm not a THL completist, so I wouldn't guarantee that.

I've mostly liked the covers THL have done live, but that doesn't mean I'd want to buy an album of them, however good the original. In fact, the better the original, the more difficult ity is to do a worthwhile cover imho.

But covers is a whole different topic.
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby Kevin Caywood » Sat Dec 24, 2016 5:06 am

To throw words out into the universe...

The comments and reactions are people don't really buy albums anymore. Or people cherrypick an album. Since you can buy them digitally, the new generation will only skim what they like...

Like Devin and most of you saying. If and when the time is right. If there's a need to be creative or expressive. Furthermore, since it has been done in the past with Mirror Man and Stay With Me Tonight. Release a single without a care that an album is connected to it. There's not a drive or need to rise up the charts. There's not a demand to satisfy a studio head to fulfill a contract.

If I was where they were at in their career. That's what I would do. For myself, for my fans...
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby crowbaby » Sat Dec 24, 2016 1:26 pm

I think while touring is profitable for them, (I assume it is), we won't get much if anything. However they won't be touring forever, although they are all very sprightly still, will they still be touring as they have been in 3-4 years time? I suspect once touring isn't so desirable, the vault will open and some gems will see the light of day ...
Of course, it would help if someone made Philip an offer he couldn't refuse!
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby Electric Dream » Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:56 pm

GrandsonofJoCallis wrote:On the Jo Callis after gig - was there any decent music played there that we haven't heard yet that have HL potential. The only track I had not heard of from the 6 or so song set list that some guy listed on the Facebook page was called "Beauty"? What did it sound like?


Why don't you ask your Grandad? :p :lol:
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Re: Is Philip Oakey Still Writing New Material?

Postby GrandsonofJoCallis » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:13 pm

Sadly gramps doesn't keep me informed!
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