40 years in the business don’t seem to be enough for punk/R&B stars ‘Nine Below Zero’ who’s 2019 album ‘Avalanche’ has received some of the best reviews to date. Moving forward strongly, and dedicated to constant improvement, the ‘Belows offer an example of a band who’s sense of musical importance has never drained. Damian Robinson caught up with frontman Dennis Greaves to find out more about their constant motivation.
‘Avalanche’ has been receiving perhaps the best reviews so far for any Nine Below Zero album. 40 years in the business, where does the motivation to create new material come from?
There’s a number of factors really. The dynamics of the band help us want to get together as a group, which is always important, but really there’s been so much happening in the world that it’s hard not to want to write songs which reflect that. Alison Moyet once said to me that you can’t be happy and write songs, and she’s right.
The motivation to produce new material comes from your environment then?
Mostly yes. I think we try to take the middle ground with most of the issues and as a group it’s our role to understand, and be empathetic, to the different opinions floating around. Shoving your opinion down people’s throat only switches people off.
So you see the role of Nine Below to start balanced debates?
It is. We try to be informed by all sides, whether we agree with them or not, and to take a balanced view. I think society is losing that ability to have debates without being too upset. Our backgrounds are from the working class, and having a balanced view was something I think the working class used to do really well. Our role is to take these ideas, and songs, and take them around to other people so that we can discuss some of these issues in a responsible way. Music can do that.
You could start those debates without going through the pain of writing and recording new material; many of your peers tour greatest hits. Why continue to write and tour new material.
We don’t want to be tributes to ourselves. We want our messages to be relevant and to challenge ourselves as much as we can. Part of the reason we like playing in the North East is because there’s a similar working class background you have which matches our backgrounds. We have the same type of humour, we enjoy the same sorts of entertainment and we have the same struggles with industries. The North East, Belfast, London, Liverpool, they’re all formed from dockland industries and that tends to bring in a certain amount of open-mindedness and a love of music which comes from importing music from around the world. We can’t wait to play up there again and have those discussions again.
Are We There Yet?’ 40th Anniversary tour 1979 – 2019. Riverside, Newcastle 9th November 2019 Tickets here: seetickets.com