Thomas Dolby, 1982

Exerpts from the Noise! interview, December 1982

After the release of "The Golden Age of Wireless", Thomas Dolby continued to develop his live show, taking up performer-in-residence status at London's Marquee Theatre along with musicians Kevin Armstrong (guitar and keyboards) and Matthew Seligman (bass and keyboards). Their performance evolved each consecutive week through the addition of new material or the reworking of already familiar pieces, as well as appearances by guest performers such as artist Lene Lovich. Thomas had also become involved with filmmaking through having made videos for 'Europa and the Pirate Twins', 'She Blinded Me with Science' and 'One of our Submarines'. By the winter of 1982 he was already thinking of writing his next album and contemplating a UK tour.


Thomas speaks of computers (and talking to them):

"A lot of people swear at them. The thing is, computer programming is basically a very anti-social activity, most people who buy one lock themselves away for the first three months and do nothing else. When you don't have any human company for days on end you start talking to yourself. The computer is only friend if you get that involved in it. It doesn't really matter that much to me now, I've more or less mastered it and I'm not even particularly interested in updating it or getting the next big thing. If I find it becomes restrictive, like the band, if they do, I throw them out! But this is something I don't anticipate happening for a while."



on 'Dolby Lookalikism' (a phenomenon observed that year amongst audience members at the Marquee):

Kevin: "I don't think that's something you've really projected, is it Tom?"

Thomas: "What, wanting to be cloned?!"

Kevin: "I can't see any way that you've cultivated an image that would necessarily make people want to do that."


on dressing like Dolby becoming a fashion trend:

Thomas: "What a horrific thought!"



on 'Henry', Thomas' own computer:

Matthew: "We found that it started, just through little abberations, writing its own drum parts and fills. In 'New Toy' there's a computer-written fill! I don't know how it did it, probably someone turned on an electric fire in another room. The good thing about that computer is that you can give it a really boring beat and it enjoys it, whereas if you give a drummer a boring beat, it sounds boring. And sometimes you need really boring beats. I can imagine a drummer being bored by playing 'Commercial Breakup'."

Kevin: "When I was first learning to load the computer, I kept doing something wrong, it just kept going beep and the question mark would come up. Eventually I did something so wrong that this sort of howling noise came out of the speakers and these streams of question marks filled up the whole screen. I just had to leave the room in terror!"

Thomas: "It's definitely a one man dog, that computer. It just won't respond to these two at all."



Filming of the video for "She Blinded me with Science", 1982

Thomas speaking of videos:

"That's nice in a way, when the initial idea for something is a visual one - something I've always tried to do, actually think ahead to the way it's going to look. That's what happened with 'Science', really... It's actually a real challenge to do something completely different instead of just ten film clips accompanying the album."

"Some of the running about you have to do with films is fantastically good fun, actually, just finding the most impossible things and dredging up sources, and once you get into that mentality you walk around all the time seeing and picking up on things you store in the old memory banks for a later date. I've been asked to direct for other people. The problem is really that there's not a lot of records I like enough to do."

On his dad's part in the 'Science' video: "We hired all these actors to be mad professors, but in fact the only one who was the true professional was the real one. He loved it. He's become quite a hero among the archaeological fraternity!"

Thomas on the state of the recording business:

"It seems like the artists emerging nowadays are very sussed business-wise, they're probably more aware of what the business requires of a new artist than what the public requires, and for that reason there's a lot of people following each other like sheep... it's a shame there aren't more people prepared to do something really individual. I think the record companies are really backward, they underestimate how outrageous, avant garde, or whatever, the public are prepared to go. They're very unimaginative. At the same time I think things like The Tube are going to open things up, and cable when it comes, and the fact that even things like the Noel Edmonds programme are showing people's home videos. The whole thing could become a lot more public. In a few years the slick production of some of the videos made nowadays, the TOTP performances, could look incredibly obsolete and old fashioned and a load of pulp. We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed, things are bound to change.

"I think that personal thing about human contact concerns me because what I'm trying to do is not make pulp in an area where pulp is the staple diet, and I think an awful lot of people are very prepared to have the same thing stuffed down their throats day in and day out, and if you're fighting against that, then it obviously concerns you, why it's happening, why they're more likely to buy a record like that or whatever. It's a bit difficult to understand sometimes why people don't require something a bit different, out of the ordinary."


1979 - Thomas Dolby with Bruce Woolley and Camera Club
1981 - Thomas Dolby pre-'Wireless', early collaborative work
1982 - Thomas Dolby "Golden Age of Wireless" released in Britain
1983- Thomas Dolby "Golden Age of Wireless" in US; final touches on "The Flat Earth"
1983 - Interview with Lene Lovich, TMDR collaborator
1984 - Thomas Dolby in NYC, "The Flat Earth" US tour
1984 - Thomas Dolby in Los Angeles, "The Flat Earth" US tour continues
1985 - Thomas Dolby & George Clinton, Dolby's Cube
1985 - Thomas Dolby with Ryuichi Sakamoto
1986 - Thomas Dolby, collaborations with Joni Mitchell, work on film scores
1988 - Thomas Dolby, Mike Kapitan, "Aliens Ate My Buick" and the Lost Toy People
1992 - Thomas Dolby, the making of "Astronauts and Heretics"
1994 - Thomas Dolby's Guggenheim Virtual String Quartet exhibit; mass-multimedia concepts
1997 - Thomas Dolby's Headspace, Beatnik software
Thomas Dolby's Headspace Lecture
Thomas Dolby at Work
Thomas Dolby at Play
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