Various commentary from interviews and other sources over the years...
Listen To London (DVD)
(Thanks to Richard M for transcribing these comments.)
(Tony M, introducing 'Living By Numbers' live on stage at The Venue) Um, you know, bands normally play... the thing that kind of put them there, wherever it is, and this is er, the thing that put us there, and this is a song all about watches...
The following comments are from the interview section of the DVD...
(Tony M) We have got a record actually in the futurist charts at the moment, erm, but I mean we don't really consider ourselves as... a futurist band, you know, we... I don't know what we'd call ourselves really? Alternative - an alternative documentary pop band!
(Clive) It relates to the social, political and economic climate of the world I would say, er... and it's - this isn't a fashion thing either - it's been very much in peoples minds, particularly for some of the... newer bands, that er, there's doomsday around the corner and all the rest of it, but we felt that for years. Particularly with the election of certain heads of governments in certain parts of the world, no names being mentioned, er... there's every opportunity in my opinion that the likelihood of... world war? - whatever you'd like to... consider it - erm, is going to come about, and Tony, being the songwriter I think has reflected that opinion for some years now, so... I'd say we reflect, or like to just comment - not offering any solutions or highfaluting answers - we just like to comment on the way we see things in the world today.
(Tony M) I mean nowadays it is, it's virtually impossible er to, to er really get a new band together and to finance that band, I mean nowadays you know erm equipment... and er, to take a band on the road is ridiculous, you know, unless you're really going to slum it. But we managed purely because we had a hit record, and er, you know, which in a way is again the old great British press, you know, I mean they really slag bands off that, er, you know, that happen like we happened, you know, because er, they think "well they haven't done their homework, you know, they haven't, they haven't slogged and, er, you know"...
(Clive) ...they haven't discovered them...
(Tony M) ...yeah - and they haven't discovered us, yeah - but the fact is we did slog, we slogged, you know, we slogged in studios, and... you know, not in, on the road.
Early Gig Information (via email)
(Comments from Mike S) I went to school with Tony Mansfield and Phil Towner. I was vaguely aware of Tony at the time but was good friends with Phil and was often round at his house watching in amazement as his drum kit grew and changed. I lost touch with Phil but years later I was to meet him through Clive Gates when Clive and I were working in a buying office in London. Clive was very excited about a new musical project and I went along to possibly their 1st gig at The Castle pub on Tooting High Road, SW London. This must have been around 1978/79.
I think the set was around 45/50 mins and consisted mainly of covers. As with many musicians, Tony M was an admirer of the Beatles, so there was at least 1 Beatles track in there. I remember Clive had a mellotron with him, and an electric piano I think. Tony M played a twin neck guitar with some aplomb and I congratulated him on his playing. He was quite modest. I presume Clive dropped the mellotron from his set-up later. They were rapidly overtaken by the string synth which was a lot more portable and less temperamental. In subsequent years I developed a real love of the mellotron sound and these days I'd kill to see one at close quarters in the hands of a maestro - there's no doubt that Clive was a talented musician.
The Appliance of Science (Smash Hits Article)
(Tony M) We don't really come from anywhere. We've just been going basically what we're doing now, but for other people.
The hero bands were the bands that made albums. They were the bands worth getting into. New Musik is a band that writes music that takes the deeper aspects of an album band and puts them into a pop mould. It's fashionable now to be a pop group, whereas a few years ago it wasn't and, let's face it, to reach people you've got to get on the radio. That we seem to have succeeded at.
A lot of people don't realise that certain sounds don't work with other sounds. You're learning all the time. I'm going to be still learning in 10 years time, if i'm still around.
Certain bands will tell you how wonderful life is. We're just trying to make people think. You switch on the telly and there's always something going wrong. How long are we going to be around? That's what it's all about. What is there to be happy about? That's what I'm asking.
Doom Disguised as Jollity (Sounds Article)
(Tony M) To go from a studio where you're not playing in terms of volume, to playing loud and live, isn't easy. We've been studio based for a long time, so this first tour is really to knock the band into shape.
(Clive G) It's like being on holiday!
(Tony M) We don't cheat. The tape recorder is on full display, bang in the centre of the stage, under spotlights. We just want to emulate the studio sound live. It's easy to go on as a four-piece and miss things out, but instead we're using tapes on five songs and harmonizers on others.
Making videos is just good business sense. We wouldn't have the rig or equipment we've got now if we hadn't done them, or done our bit on TV. It's a vicious circle though.
[In terms of image] it's important to an extent but... no, I don't really care. People can make what they want of New Musik, but they shouldn't write us off as a chart band. They'll think differently later on.
Hopefully the New Musik thing will get a little weirder. We've taken a chance on the New Musik concept. We are progressing; the album's safe radio music, but more diverse. Our new material is odd. There is this thing called 'Back to Room One' which is very poppy, would appeal on the radio, but if you look at it another way it's oblique.
[In terms of the band name] it's one of those names which easily catch on. Our promotion has been low key so far, no badges or T-shirts yet, but it has caught on with radio people. Even Gerald Harper's playing the new single!
Radio music is usually seen as run-of-the-mill, but 'World of Water' is really doomy, a really nasty song. The whole LP is doomy. We're doomy. But it's put in such a jolly way that people don't take in the words.
(Phil Towner) If you listen to the words, they're about drowning in society. There are parallel images like water, getting drunk, drowning, losing money. But then again, water's nice.
(Tony M) New Musik is something new. People who've heard or records or seen us live just aren't certain about it all. The idea of New Musik preceded Gary Numan's first hit; the synthesised percussive sounds - we were doing that ages ago. Then John Foxx used the same riff as in 'Sanctuary' on 'Underpass'. It's on our old demo's - honest!
Over a period of time I was into the psychedelic era of The Beatles, Hendrix, Yes, Purple and Genesis. Now it's Eno, Talking Heads, XTC and Yellow Magic Orchestra. YMO could be the next big thing this year. I like the Heads' attitude; they write on similar subjects to me, but approach them differently.
It's good that people can put out records with surprises in them. People are accepting a bit of novelty. Record companies should take more gambles. There are already so many failed records, it couldn't hurt. We certainly couldn't have put 'World of Water' out from a standing start.
You can still mould your own sound around elements of commerciality. Sometimes you can sell a record 'caus it's got one silly sound in it. Once you've got the listener's attention, you've grabbed them.
[The dream is] to get that medium between weirdness and commerciality: if you achieve that, it's all new music. It's all about balance.
We've got more tricks up our sleeve - effects nobody else has used yet. And we're not telling anyone what they are!
New Musik's Tony Mansfield (writer, producer, vocalist, keyboardist, guitarist) has never been overly enamored of trendy trappings of music or image, which is why his band, never fashionable, had only minor UK hits. (As a freelance producer, however, Mansfield has had no such trouble.) Nonetheless, in attempting to recast and/or rediscover pop-rock through modern technology, New Musik helped launch the style as a commercial force in America, where its debut single, "Straight Lines" - predating Gary Numan's US hit with "Cars" - nearly crossed over from the dance clubs to the mass market as an import. (The 10-inch EP also includes its follow-up and both B-sides.)
New Musik's full but spacious sound is immediately appealing: vocals, acoustic guitars, synths and other keyboards ply melodious ditties impeccably deployed and ingeniously enhanced at the mixing console. What's most telling about this new musik is that it's sensuous but not sensual, energetic but not violent, calling up a sort of bittersweet, melancholic feeling, but never redolent of the gloom-doom syndrome. Which makes the band either a breath of fresh air or an overly polite and sterile waste of time.
Yet, surprisingly enough, the lyrics are almost all about loneliness, alienation and humanity's inability to cope with the modern world - but worded simply, and exclusively in terms of ideals (safety, identity, luxury), abstractions (lines, numbers, motion) and/or metaphors (often to do with the ocean and travel). Though hardly immortal poesy, when put in context by the music, core phrases can be most evocative.
From A to B contains three strong singles (one, "This World of Water," is brilliant) unmatched by those on Anywhere, but otherwise there's little difference in quality or style between the two. Sanctuary takes the best of both, making it a near-apotheosis of ear candy. Warp, however, sounds transitional: band involvement in the studio had apparently increased, adding a new rhythmic component with no effective niche. More acute (and pessimistic) lyrics are accompanied by a paucity of new melodic ideas.
Mansfield's subsequent life as a pop producer yielded hits for Naked Eyes, the B-52's, Captain Sensible and others. [Jim Green]