Sticking to their keyboards -- and guitars -- has kept the band viable for a generation.
NILES -- Heralded as carrying Duran Duran's new wave torch, bands such as the Killers have aped an '80s synth aesthetic and melodic guitar style to create their own new millennium sound.
While the press concentrates on the Fab "Hungry Like The Wolf" Five's heavy influence over the contemporary scene, arguably other seminal bands from the Martha Quinn era are not getting their due.
"I think we do get lost but if it's going to be next to Duran Duran, that's good," said The Fixx singer Cy Curnin, calling from Oklahoma. "I think we got lumped into that early MTV [era]. We had two real pop hits ["One Thing Leads to Another" and "Saved by Zero"] when MTV was breaking. And the video aspect of it made it very girlie driven. And on top of it, yes, we did have synthesizers, so we became [this] synth-driven pop band but we are really a guitar band with lots of keyboards."
Those guitar sounds -- moody, haunting chords of despair, mystery and intrigue -- defined The Fixx's career with such tracks as "Stand or Fall," "Red Skies at Night" and "Secret Separation." In fact, Curnin believes the cyclical nature of music has brought bands such as Killers, The Bravery, Franz Ferdinand and so on back to a larger soundscape, which is a departure from nineties alternative music.
"With grunge and hip-hop, the mix became very in your face and dry," Curnin said. "When you are a guitarist, it's fun to sort of play Star Wars on the guitar. And, that sound has come back, less claustrophobic. And now we have a few good melodies."
True to itself
Even though the alluring melodies never changed for The Fixx during its initial successful platinum run of a dozen top 10 hits, the attention of the media did and by the late eighties, many bands from earlier in the decade were gone. Curnin and his bandmates continued on with tepid mainstream response and eventually took a few years off while the Seattle sound ruled the charts.
Curnin believes some of the band's best material to date -- 1998's "Elemental" and 1999's "1011Woodland" -- fell on deaf ears, but the singer is far from bitter. There are too many contemporary bands from his era which no longer tour. Scheduled to perform Tuesday at the Center Stage Grille & amp; Bar in Niles, the group features its core lineup intact, which these days is an anomaly in the music world.
"We really haven't chased too many shooting stars," Curnin said. "We've just stuck to our path and fortunately, it still sounds credible on its own. The same social backdrops still exist. The world hasn't gotten any better. Even though in our naive ways we maybe thought we were going to change the world when we were younger, now in actual fact, we've only changed our world. But at least we're still around, which shows that we're the grandfathers of the eighties movement right now."
While the band plans on performing new songs such as "Days Go By" and "Remember Me When I'm Gone," from a new studio album due out early next year, Curnin knows why fans come out to hear the band from the eighties.
"Every day memory lane gets a little longer," Curnin said. "And we're one of those signposts that will make you feel a little better about yourself rather than just, 'I'm getting old.'"