Synth pioneer Howard Jones still believes things can only get better

Best known for his 80s hits “No One Is to Blame,” “Things Can Only Get Better,” and “Everlasting Love,” new wave/synth pioneer Howard Jones is still going strong and writing and producing new music to prove it.

According to Jones, who is releasing his newest album “Dialogue” on Sept. 9, he has continuously promoted positivity through his four decade long career, and his newest album follows suit.

“Being in lockdown I had plenty of time to think,” Jones said. “What was hitting me a lot was the thought of just being alive and being able to contemplate the universe. We’ve got no right to be miserable when we’ve got this ability to see the sky and nature and each other. Let’s celebrate that.”

“Dialogue” is the third album in a trilogy of electronic releases including his 2015 multimedia project “Engage,” and 2019 studio album “Transform.”

“I wanted the albums to build off of each other…focus on how human beings can evolve,” Jones explained. “‘Engage’ is about not being a bystander…get involved in all areas of your life. ‘Transform’ is about transforming yourself. If you want to change the world then you have to change yourself first. And ‘Dialogue’ is about talking to each other and communication.”

Jones says that he wrote all of the music for “Dialogue” during the pandemic, but due to not being in the right frame of mind at the time, held off writing the lyrics until later. Once Jones began his writing process, he says he focused on one common humanity issue he’s very passionate about—open communication.

“It seems like everything has become so polarized now rather than people trying to find some common ground within that,” he explained. “We’re all on this planet and have this common humanity, let’s bring it out. And the way we bring it out is by being courageous and having dialogue…not shutting the door and saying ‘I will never speak to you again because you don’t agree with me.’”

One track on his newest album titled “Who You Really Want to Be,” focuses on some of the dangers Jones feels is behind social media.

“‘Who You Really Want to Be’ is a song about trolling and online abuse,” he said. “It highlights the fact that people can hide their identity while they threaten others on social media without having to take any responsibility for their behavior. But the song is also about standing up and saying to yourself ‘is this the person that I want to be? Do I want to be a bystander or do I want to be somebody who is actively involved?’”

In support of his newest album, Jones is touring this summer with his full electronic band and longtime friend, alt-rock musician Midge Ure, and making a stop on Thurs., July 21 at District Live. His four-piece band includes guitarist Robin Boult, bassist/chapman stick Nick Beggs, and keyboardists Robbie Bronnimann and Dan Burton. He says fans who attend can expect to hear a wide range of his musical catalog.

“We will play a couple of tracks from the new album, a couple of tracks from the last album, and then all of the hits,” Jones said.

When it comes to one of his most famous 80s hits, “Things Can Only Get Better,” Jones says he had no idea at the time of writing the kind of impact the song would have in the future.

“Writing the song, I wanted it to be positive because there was so much energy around those shows at that time and I wanted the audience to be able to sing along with it,” he said. “But, I also wanted it to be about the times when things aren’t going very well, we need to really draw on our inner resources and our friends to help us get through the difficult bits. So, it’s a song about being hopeful about the future even though things don’t look good at the time. And how ever true is that now? That’s what I had on my mind at the time that I wrote it and I’m so glad that I did because it’s becoming more relevant to me personally and to my fans at this time. Things can only get better!”

Howard Jones will perform with special guest Midge Ure at District Live on Thurs., July 21 at 8 p.m. 

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