Wang Chung’s Nick Feldman back in the musical saddle

Wang Chung still rockin' the '80s.

Nick Feldman’s musical journey is a long and winding one.

After leaving the University of Liverpool he joined a booking agent and started signing bands for gigs and more. One of his first inkings was Adam and the Ants. Feldman started getting more and more involved in music and eventually he left the agency formed a band named Wang Chung with his friend Jack Hues.

Wang Chung was part of the New Wave movement that emerged in the 1980s in Britain. The band had a string of hits, including Dance Hall Days, Everybody Have Fun Tonight and Let’s Go! before it took a hiatus in the 1990s.

The band has reformed and is now touring with a member of another ’80s band Cutting Crew. The combined force will be at Mavericks in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Before the show Feldman talked about his life in music with ARTSFILE in a phone interview from his home in the London suburb of Wimbledon, where “it’s a bit quieter over where we live. It’s kind of good for us old folk.”

That love of the quiet life led to a question of why he’s still rocking in the free world.

“It’s a combination of quite a few different things. One: I really like playing. Two: It’s lovely to be able to connect with your audience. I think we have, at our advanced age, centred ourselves just a bit and now we can go out and be who we are. It’s slightly less tense. That’s not to say we aren’t hungry to put on a good show. It’s hard work and challenging but it’s something I find stimulating. I also enjoy the camaraderie. And it gets me out and about.”

Throughout the band’s timeout, the music was still played on radio and there were inquiries about touring. But they weren’t that interested until about a decade go, he said.

Now, he said, “we make a good effort with our live shows. We are doing this new thing with Cutting Crew with this hybridized show. We play on each other’s repertoire. It’s literally two bands in one.”

For a creative person like Feldman there has always been an innate drive to keep making art.

“I love music, it’s in the blood. I have been through different phases of it.”

After Wang Chung went on hiatus, Feldman returned to the business side of the business. He worked as an A&R man for Warner Brothers talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and songwriters.

“I did that for quite some time. I was creatively tired by the time I started doing that so it was reinvigorating to work with other people’s creativity. It totally expands your experience and takes you out of yourself in a good way.”

In addition to A&R work, Feldman also spend a few seasons working on the British version of The Voice.

“I was part of the judging team screening the local talent. It taught me quite a lot. I have always got an open mind to new music.”

That work eventually led him back to performing, he said.

In the beginning of his musical career he was an early convert to punk music starting with The Sex Pistols and The Clash.

“I found punk music completely exhilarating. I loved the Sex Pistols and The Clash. I got The Clash some gigs. … The agency I worked for was quite old fashioned; they thought punk was bloody noise.”

These were tumultuous years in the U.K. and the political ferment of the time attracted him.

“I suppose I find politics interesting in as much as I can care about things to have a position and think about that and not just be passive personally.

“We have to, at some times, resist the more negative things going on. Politics are interesting to me in that way. It inevitably does have a correlation with being creative having to express something. Even a song like Everybody Have Fun Tonight, which is a good time song, can help people through a difficult time.

“We are on this earth to do something and express ourselves.”

But if punk was interesting, Feldman’s real inspiration was The Beatles. That admission led to a story.

Feldman was in his late 20s when Wang Chung “recorded Points on the Curve (1984) at the Abbey Road Studios. That was hallowed ground for us. It was before it had been refurbished so everything was the same as when the Beatles had used it. It was slightly run down but for us it was magical.

“I’m a left-handed bass player and during one of my sessions the bass wasn’t sounding right and the engineer said ‘Hang on. Wait there, I might be able to borrow another bass for you.”

In walked a guy, Feldman said, who said he was from the “bass rental company.” The guy was Paul McCartney.

“He was holding his Yamaha bass. He basically lent me his bass to play on that record. I was completely speechless … to record in Abbey Road and to have the man himself lend me his bass, it was quite something.”

These days Feldman is still watching and listening and learning. His new favourite act is the rapper Kendrick Lamar.

“He’s an absolute genius. I went with my son to see him perform in London a few month ago and it was pretty amazing.

“I still listen to the old stuff too. It’s amazing how much life the music has. I would never have believed 30 years ago if you told me I would be still be touring and people would still be interested and I would still have an active musical life, I would have thought you were mad.”

Wang Chung and Cutting Crew
Where: Mavericks, 221 Rideau St.
When: June 20. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.