From teen pop heartthrob with Slik to frontman with the Rich Kids – his post-punk ‘supergroup’ with Sex Pistol Glen Matlock – and Thin Lizzy guitarist, Midge Ure ultimately acquired more fame as an electro pioneer, saving Ultravox from near-obscurity by finally giving them some hits. He also turned down an offer from Malcolm McLaren to front the nascent Sex Pistols, and co-wrote Do They Know It’s Christmas?. All of which is of experience from which to draw Fragile – his first studio album in more than a decade.
Fragile has a retro-futuristic feel to it. Is this an echo from the past?
I think so. It’s like wearing my musical heart on my sleeve, because there are many things on this record that you can pinpoint to: “Well, that’s a kind of 60s prog rock, that’s very early Visage…” The song Become is very akin to _Fade To Grey _to me. So, you can hear little bits of influences that I’ve picked up over my 40 years in the music industry.
**Why has it taken you that long? Has it to do with being disillusioned with the music industry? **
Well, do young people still desire and need the music the way we used to? When I was young, when you got a new album by your favourite artist, you had to hear it over and over until you kind of burned out and moved onto the next one. I’m not sure that music is consumed in the same way now.
I’d like to think I’m absolutely wrong. But I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that video games, consoles and 24-hour music television and all of those things take people away from sitting and listening to music. I mean, properly listening to it.
To quote I Survived, to what degree are you a survivor? I think my career shows that I’m a survivor. I’ve been through so many career highs and lows, a variety of famous or infamous bands. I’ve been around a long time – in an industry that’s very fickle. I try and think of any other industry in the world that just throws out perfectly good people, who can contribute a huge amount of knowledge to that industry. In the music industry they throw you out because they’d rather have something new, that’s not necessarily as good. And that’s a really strange thing.
How is post-fame life for you?
Well, it’s fame in a different way. My reputation hasn’t fallen off a cliff – I haven’t died yet. But I understand what you’re saying. I think when you are really young and you see an artist on TV and think, ‘Oh, I would love to do that,’ it’s probably because you’d like to impress the girl who doesn’t like you at school. Once you’re in the music industry, what you really want is respect. And the fame doesn’t really matter.
Do you ever wonder why the hits dried up, or if you had lost your mojo?
Of course! You’re an artist. And what people don’t understand is that all artists are fragile. They are ready to crumble. Even the ones who seem full of self-confidence. For me – at this stage of my career – I can do what I like, and that’s a fantastic feeling. I have no record company beating on my door telling me I need to do a dance remix, or get some DJ to put in a bass line that spoils everything I’ve spent months doing. I’m in a fantastic, fantastic position.
Fragile is out now via Hypertension Music.
This feature was published in Classic Rock issue 201.