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Interview with Limahl: He who brought you ‘The Neverending Story’…

Limahl @2x

As frontman for Kajagoogoo in the early 1980s, Limahl enjoyed great success in Australia with one single Too Shy and then relative obscurity until a solo career saw him crooning The Neverending Story – a song that brings back a flood of memories for Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers alike (after all, who hasn’t seen that movie?). This month he takes part in the Totally 80s tour across Australia. Here he talks about retro tours and reality TV.

Interview by Antonino Tati

Transcription by Chris Prindiville

 

 

Hi Limahl. This is the first time you’ve been in Australia in a while, yes?

Yeah, a short while. Thirty-three years! [Laughs].

 

You came last as a a solo act or with Kajagoogoo?

Solo. I’ve never performed live here. I just came and did some promos; appeared on ‘Countdown’ and did a bunch of interviews.

 

Who got in touch with you to take part in the ‘Totally 80s’ tour?

My management was contacted by a tour promoter in Australia, and that was it, really.

 

Were you hesitant at first or had you missed performing so much you just jumped at the chance?

Well, really, I’ve been performing live for ages. The Eighties revival thing started in 1997 in England when there was all this sudden new interest in the era: magazines were talking about it; Eighties music in TV commercials; movies like the ‘Wedding Singer’ were coming out; so there was this kind of rennaissance. I did my first tour in 1997 and I thought, ‘This is fun; this will last six months’. And I’ve not stopped performing since.

 

Let’s go back to your band Kajagoogoo. Where on earth did that name come from?

We were just throwing a bunch of names around. Nick, our bassplayer came in one day and just suggested it and I immediately loved it. I felt it was kind of out-there. It took a while to convince the other three guys, though.

 

The Eighties were generally a wild period for pop music: strange names in bands, even stranger song lyrics. Why did you think that was; did it have anything to do with excess cocaine?

[Laughs]. No, I think it was just a very creative period, because we were looking for more colour and we were looking for more escapism. The Seventies were quite depressing, especially in the UK. We had punk rock, which was about pain, spitting, anarchy, fighting. There were power cuts, miner strikes, and all of that, and that pain was reflected in the music. And then synthesisers came and people expermented with their image, it was all about just trying to be flamboyant.

 

Then you enjoyed a solo career; how did you get called on to do ‘The Neverending Story’

I was bascially a hired hand. Georgio Moroder was the producer and writer of the music, and the lyrics were by Keith Forsey – who had done Eyes Without A Face for Billy Idol. Anyway I got called out to LA to audition for the song, which I was slightly peeved at that. I mean my stuff with Kajagoogoo had already been on the chart. So I went off to Munich, where Georgio had done all those great recordings with Donna Summer, and we cut the record. It was just one of those lucky breaks. I was in the right place at the right time.

 

Fans would know this: Limahl is a jumbled up mix of letters from your real surname, which is Hamill. When people would call you Limahl, were you playing a pop persona? Or is there always a bit of Chris Hammil in there?

Of course there is Chris Hammil in there. I mean, it is me. I suppose if you are an actor who has been in a soap for a long time, for example, you become very familiar with that character, you can almost take on the persona of that character. So there’s a little bit of both. But obviously, Chris Hammil influences everything Limahl does.

 

Is it a trip to turn on the radio today and still here ‘Too Shy’ or ‘Neverending Story’ still being played?

Always, always, always. It’s always a thrill for me whenever I hear Too Shy or Neverending Story anywhere. I know that people have memories with the songs. People tell me about having their first holiday and hearing this song or having their first kiss and hearing that song. Recently Spotify was plugging the Eighties and it was using Neverending Story in the background, and I found it a thrill. The songs are out there and they’ve got their own life. I hope a hundred years after I’ve died they’ll still be getting played.

 

In 2012, you appeared in the UK’s ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here’. What was that experience like?

Powerful. Kind of a huge psychological test. I did really well in the beginning and then things would start to affect you: starvation, stress… You barely get any food and so you also get very tired from it all. Eventually I burst into tears, and on that show the worst thing you can do is burst into tears because they’ll just vote you off.

 

Some people complain that reality TV is fairly contrived and not very realistic but you’re saying the pain was real?

Oh god yeah. And also you’re put into this strange situation with 11 strangers. Everyone’s supposed to be supporting each other but also in competition with one another. You’re always looking over your shoulder to see who’s genuine and who’s not.

 

A bit like the bitching and the backstabbing in the music industry itself?

In life, darling! I mean, show me family that are all friends and that get along okay…

 

What’s one thing you miss about the 1980s?

It seemed like a more innocent world and I miss that. You just look at the news today and it’s like we’re heading for oblivion. You just think, ‘Where’s it all going to end up?’ You know, all of those things: the terrorism, the corruption, the pollution… just everything. I don’t really want to get into specifics but I think you know what I mean. I think that what’s happening in America and what’s happened in the UK with Brexit is going to really shake up the system. It might end up being a good thing. I really hope so.

 

Well, only time will tell, and as long as we’ve got a pretty good soundtrack to listen to while we’re sitting it out.

You can put on Too Shy and forget all that shit.

 

Limahl is part of the Totally ’80s Tour along with Martika, Berlin, Men Without Hats, Paul Lekakis, Katrina & The Waves, Wa Wa Nee, Real Life, and Stacey Q. Information and tickets are available through www.metropolistouring.com.
Reamaining dates and venues of the tour are as follows:

Tuesday 19th July
PERTH Astor Theatre

Thursday 21st July
ADELAIDE Thebarton Theatre

Friday 22nd July
HOBART Wrest PointGet Tickets

Saturday 23rd July
MELBOURNE The Palms @ Crown

Sunday 24th July
MELBOURNE The Palms @ Crown

Wednesday 27th July
REVESBY Revesby Workers
* Berlin & Men Without Hats not appearing

Thursday 28th July
NEWCASTLE Civic Theatre
* Berlin & Men Without Hats not appearing

Friday 29th July
PENRITH Penrith Panthers
* Berlin & Men Without Hats not appearing

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