|Wang Chung: Nick Feldman|
After a 20 year hiatus, Wang Chung (Nick Feldman and Jack Hues) finally return to the scene in support of their new album, Tazer Up! The longevity of their pop hits from the ‘80s, like “Dance Hall Days” and “Everyone Have Fun Tonight,” and their contribution to American pop culture is undeniable. “Wang Chunging” has been mentioned on TV and in movies and commercials for more than two decades.
Shockwave: What do you enjoy the most — touring, writing, or collaborating with others?
Nick: In the Wang Chung world, I really enjoy personally recording and writing. I feel that it’s the most creative aspect. That’s how we build up our records and construct them piece by bounce...playing live nowadays is much better. The live experience has really caught up with it...and it’s really fun, and the audience can sense that it’s a more entertaining experience for all of us.
How do you feel about the American fascination with British culture
(i.e., Doctor Who, One Direction, ‘fish fingers and custard’)?
I don’t know whether to be proud or what. Do you think there used to be a fascination…I think it’s come back a bit...we are good at [sic] English bands in America peak in the ‘80s, a few exceptions in ‘90s and 2000s. A lot of English bands find it to be successful. Could it be something to do with…we found, in the ‘80s, English culture is much more concentrated...in England there is RADIO 1; it’s become more proud, but it’s become much more concentrated. You would be influenced by all these kinds of music and created [sic] some kind of hybrid. MTV had started [sic] mixing synth with samplers...a new kind of mix of stuff that Americans hadn’t seen; maybe that [sic] English culture was able to shuffle it together.
Would you consider another ‘80s reunion tour, and if so, with who?
Yes, we would. We’ve done a couple, and we enjoyed it. We always try with our new album. We take it seriously. It’s not just a cabaret show, and when you play with other ‘80s bands, it can be perceived as a glamourized circus. It has been positive. We’d be happy to do it; we are open-minded.
What would be your ultimate dream band lineup (living or dead)?
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimmy Hendrix, Zeppelin…the Beatles, and Marvin Gaye, with Ludwig Van Beethoven conducting.
How did you come up with the song/concept for “Everybody Have Fun Tonight?”
[Laughing] It was actually Jack. Jack and I would get together, and we’d play parts together...and we came up with the chorus ‘Everybody have fun tonight,” and I expected him to say we couldn’t have a song that says, ‘Everybody have fun tonight.’
[It’s] Slightly ‘Hey Judesy’ – Beatlesy. When we met the producer of Mosaic, Peter Wolf, Jack ad-libbed “Everybody Wang Chung tonight; everybody have fun tonight,” [where he] threw it in just as a throw away...and Peter said, “That’s it, it should be every chorus; you should speed up the song and make it feel good... knock it into shape!” And we recorded…and the rest is history.
Can’t help but to feel proud of it, it’s in the dictionary, and to be quite rude, to “Wang Chung” means whatever you want it to mean. We’ve entered the culture in a most significant way...it’s not like it’s faded away, and it still gets mentioned in punch line mentions [sic] in TV shows.
What is ‘Wang Chunging,’ by your definition?
I saw that you were associated with the Avengers movie soundtrack. Are you a comic fan? What is your favorite superhero?
I’m not an expert, but I enjoy…I love Tex Avery 1940s cartoons. I remember Hanna Barbara stuff: Flinstones, Yogi Bear. I met Don Messick once. It was in the ‘80s. I was meeting all these big rock star types, and I was actually the most star struck over meeting (the voice actor who does) Barney Rubble and George of the Jetsons.
What’s your best touring story, or the best prank you pulled or was pulled on you, while on the road or in the studio?
I remember we were on tour, we were on tour for ages. It was my birthday. No one wished me happy birthday. We were playing in Kansas...everyone was ignoring me. I felt a bit miserable to do the gig, and then, my band mates directed the audience to sing me Happy Birthday! Five to ten thousand people in the whole audience… and ten thousand people to sing happy birthday...and they bought me a Discman. They were trying to pretend that they [had] forgotten; not many people can say 10,000 [people] sang them happy birthday. And on the last night of tours, it’s traditional for [the] road crew to try to disrupt the show without making it difficult for performing, but not so that it would disrupt the show, like gapping tape so one’s feet would get stuck; but we played a trick on the road crew. We arranged for the main sound guy…I think it was like 20,000 people, and [the] sound guy was in the middle of audience. When “Jack” was introducing the band, the lighting guys turned all spotlights on Robbie the sound guy. He was completely shocked. In front of 20K, and he mooned the theater.
Of all of your accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
Having a huge hit with “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” [and] when you hear that people that you admire [like your music]. Miles Davis was a fan of “To Live and Die in LA.” That meant a lot to us. I think we were talking about, before, making a mark on the culture. That’s something I’m really proud of.
What do you want the new generation of fans to know about your music?
It’s nice to get a sense that what we are doing, and that we are still taken seriously…that we are [an] eclectic ‘80s style in a modern day; we are not dinosaurs locked in the past.