Lead vocalist Cy Curnin talks about the group’s first new album in a decade, Every Five Seconds
“The album title Every Five Seconds is taken from a line in [the track] ‘Lonely as a Lighthouse’: ‘Looking for love every five seconds,’” says The Fixx lead vocalist Cy Curnin, regarding his band’s first new studio album in ten years (out now via BFD/The Orchard).
“It’s written against a sense of panic that we’re all going through of, who am I? I need to be accepted, I need to belong. The world is dark and it’s going to end any minute. There’s so much panic going on that every five seconds, we’re just searching for love. We need to be in a community that nurtures us and holds us in a space of safety and peace. We’re all searching for it, but we can’t find it because we’re in this terrible maelstrom of anger and self-destruction.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom on Every Five Seconds, either.
“Something is happening – there’s kind of an awakening going on,” says Curnin. “I don’t mean it in an innocent way. I just mean it in a very raw, ‘seed is bursting’ [way]. They say in a redwood forest, the seeds need extreme heat to burst open. So these huge forest fires are actually kind of beneficial to the redwoods. When there’s been a huge fire, then there’ll be some charcoal, there’ll be some food, and there’ll be some space to grow. Maybe that’s what humanity is about; we’re reaching this point where something is bursting out of its seed before it’s too late. But who knows?”
Curnin has always had an intellectual and serious bent to his lyrics – and that, mixed with the band’s earworm-worthy New Wave/alternative rock melodies, made them stand out. They had their first international hit, “Stand or Fall,” exactly 40 years ago. Several more hugely successful singles followed throughout the 1980s: “Red Skies,” “Saved by Zero,” “One Thing Leads to Another,” “Are We Ourselves?” and “Secret Separation.”
The Fixx still perform all of these songs at their shows. Curnin scoffs at the notion that they could ever grow weary of playing their hits from years ago. “I mean, that’s almost like saying you stop appreciating your children as they get older. Yeah, we’ve played ‘One Thing Leads to Another’ thousands of times. But mentally, we still go to a place where the energy exists, and the power of what that song means – every day there’s something in the world zeitgeist that that song will fit. I can’t see it ever getting old or jaded for us because it’s the reason we have had success: it still connects on a day-to-day level.”
VIDEO: The Fixx “One Thing Leads to Another”
He knows nostalgia plays a big part in why The Fixx remains so popular. “If I could take people back to when they first heard ‘Stand or Fall’ or ‘Red Skies,’ who were they then? And who are they now?” he says. “Something in the song resonates with people and makes them feel some kind of hope or connection.”
He also thinks that Fixx fans appreciate the band’s honest approach: “There are a lot of people that like to write songs of comfort. Occasionally I do, but I find that as a group, we like to let people know that it’s not just a whitewash and that there is some kind of repercussions for what’s going on in the world. There’s so much manipulation, and the world we live in is so divided. It would be good to find a voice that represents everyone in the room, not just dividing people in the room. So, we’re trying to find themes that unite, but not in a sedative way.” He says that goal remains the same with Every Five Seconds.
Curnin’s intellectualism and questioning nature come from his upbringing in London, England.
“Family discussions around the table were always interesting,” he says. “My parents were pretty active in their geopolitical views. So I used to latch onto that, if not argue with them. So that inspired me. Reading is always a good thing, as well. Learning how other people put words together. I think it was T.S. Eliot who said, ‘The best writing is started by stealing what someone else is trying to say and running with it.’” He laughs. “That’s what I do.”
He also remembers feeling compelled to play music from an early age. “As a kid, I used to sneak home and play the piano when no one was there,” he says. “Back then, I would write songs without ever putting pen on paper. Then, as I got a little bit more serious about what I was doing, I started to write lyrics.”
In 1979, when Curnin was in college, he formed the band The Portraits with drummer Adam Woods. Eventually, membership changes brought in guitarist Jamie West-Oram and keyboardist Rupert Greenall. Bassist Dan K. Brown joined in 1983. They are all Fixx members now, as well.
“We connect emotionally together,” Curnin says of his bandmates. “There’s a patience and a reserved understanding that just fell into place very naturally early on. We don’t really throw petrol on dramas. We never let an argument get out of hand. We’ve been lucky that we don’t have a destructive energy in the group. I’m the baby of the group, so you’d think the singer would be the big mouth and the big head. But when you’ve got four big brothers slapping you down in your place all the time, lovingly, it’s all right. So,” he says with a laugh, “I’m like a kid who’s enjoying the ride with these big guys around me!
“We’re just painting one big mural of sound together, and we seem to know where each other’s brush strokes are going to fall, and we are all painting at the same time but we never get in each other’s way,” Curnin continues. “It’s almost like a hydra, one body with many arms, all painting away. The relationship and the time that we’ve all spent together and the gratitude that exists in the band is what feeds us. I don’t think there’s really any big egos anymore. Frankly, to have made it this far and we can still fill a theater, it’s amazing. Can’t complain. We’re going to love it until we drop.”