Era defining songs. Ten million records sold. Twenty five years music making. Five Top Ten singles, four Top Ten albums. Chart busting success in the UK, across Europe and in the Far East, Australia and New Zealand. A glorious singing voice that stopped the world in its tracks. Now,after a gap of 18 years a return to the classic songwriting and lushly produced sounds that made them an instantly recognisable sensation.
Taking you back to your first meeting at Newcastle University in the 90’s what inspired you to work together?
Paul: I had written our hit Ocean Drive way back in 1989 but couldn’t find a singer for it. I spoke to the popular local DJ Wayne C McDonald who recommended Tunde and we got together in February 1993 and recorded it in a little studio behind St.Nicholas Cathedral. Something clicked and there was an immediate indefinable chemistry there and people loved it. We stuck the track on a cassette (yes they were still around then!) and hawked it around unsuccessfully to many record companies until we got an call from Island Records which started the ball rolling.
Who had been your musical influences growing up?
Tunde: I was always buying R n B and Hip Hop records and it was very clear early on that Paul and I shared a similar take on music.
Paul:When we met it was during a real feel-good time in my life. I loved listening to Frankie Knuckles, Massive Attack and Soul 2 Soul and I when we got together I wanted us to make records of spirit and with a feel of bringing sunshine into peoples lives.
During your first period of success are there any particular memories and highlights?
Tunde: With my Nigerian heritage I was always a fairly reluctant star and felt my career was a no-no in my Mums eyes. When she came to see us at the Royal Albert Hall she came to understand what I was doing and it was wonderful to finally gain that stamp of approval.
Paul: I suppose too many to list but a comedic one was playing Lifted in completely the wrong key at a show at Newcastle City Hall but somehow getting away with it. I sounded like Les Dawson with his infamous piano playing!
When did you realise you needed a break?
Paul: It got very, very difficult. We’d been doing it for ten years and had been far more successful than imagined. There isn’t a roadmap for this stuff. We were living in each others pockets all of the time and weren’t getting on. Then my dad died…it was a very difficult time.
Tunde: Success brought its own tension and pressures and I had a similar catalyst as Paul as I lost my mum on April 1st 2000. I felt the need to stop everything and go off and well, just wander. There were so many things dependent on Paul and I: musicians, managers, label, logistics. You need big shoulders to carry that. 18 years between albums. Why such a long gap?
Tunde: I had collaboration in my DNA but working alone over 2 solo albums was good therapy for me as I was able to express a lot of my feelings about my mum on those songs. Paul: I did my own project over 4 years but have been in conversation since 2008 about being Lighthouse Family again. We actually went into the studio in 2010 with a view to making a new album and played some gigs but somehow we couldn’t knock it together. So now you’re finally back with a forthcoming new album “Blue Sky in your Head.” You have the same label Polydor, your original manager Keith Armstrong and the assistance of your old A&R man Colin Barlow. Was that deliberate on your part? Tunde: It was all accidental although I feel someone was pulling the strings. Keith was in a very vivid dream I had 3 years ago despite me not seeing him for 15 years! Three or four months later I was in San Diego and I saw a missed call from him. I rang back and he told me the record company had been hammering us to get back together. So what do you do. You go with the flow! What can fans expect from the new record and how was the recording process?
Paul: It was very tough. You start with a blank sheet of paper looking for inspiration and it took a while to get the machine going. I am very proud of the end result however as we have a solid unmistakeable Lighthouse Family album.
How are you prepared for fame second time around?
Paul: We are older and working in a different industry within a different landscape. But when the two of us come together, something good happens.There’s a magic and thats there in these songs.
Tunde: I suppose its a bit like sightseeing. You hop off the bus and go and see some sights and then hop back on hoping things will be the same. I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.
Finally you are preparing for a nationwide tour at the end of the year including Newcastle City Hall on November 14th. What should fans expect from that?
Paul: Its been a challenge getting what I would call my “musical chops” back, playing the old and new material. Hopefully an exhilarating rollercoaster ride.
Tunde: A new vision on the old songs and the new tracks as well. It will be interesting to see how people see it. I love doing this. We’ve been bloody stupid.
Why has this taken us so long!