Erasure’s Andy Bell On Hastings Life & Selling Bread To The Cheeky Girls

In advance of the release of Erasure's _Total Pop!_, Andy Bell talks to Luke Turner about his new life in the south coast town of Hastings

I moved to Hastings for love

It was Dave. I was going backwards and forwards seeing him, and I just wanted to go down there and see how I got on with him. Dave’s born and bred in the town and he’s a fisherman’s son, so people have been really friendly to me, walking down the street. I get a bit lonely sometimes, but people do say hello. He works for Church’s bakery, which is run by the founders of Green & Black’s chocolate. He takes the bread to markets, sometimes four a week, and it’s quite a lot of work for him; bread is quite heavy.

I sell bread to the Cheeky Girls

I help out at this market stall in Rye and we get the Cheeky Girls coming to buy bread. They haven’t got a clue who I am, I was thinking that hopefully the penny might drop because they’ve seen me on TV or something. How sad I am – I thought maybe I should make them a CD of suggestions of songs that would be good for their voice. Some people do recognise me when I’m working on the stall, and they think that I’m not making music anymore and that’s my new thing.

Moving to Hastings has brought me down to earth

It’s very working class and a bit rough, but at the same time there are a lot of artists living down there. Because there’s not much going on in the evenings people tend to make their own entertainment, go round each other’s houses and have a little party. We’ve DJd at the scout hut, we have bonfires on the beach. It’s good home fun.

We should be proud of our seaside towns

It’s a shame that the pier has closed down. They’re trying to save it, but the foundations are crumbling away at the end. It was bought by a private company and things like that. There used to be a bar on there, and a club. We should be proud of our Victorian heritage. Also St. Leonards, which is joined up to Hastings like Hove is to Brighton, was the first Victorian-built town, it’s really lovely.

There’s a pagan edge to Hastings

There’s old town week, and Carnival week. On bonfire night people come from the surrounding area and they have their parades. I suppose for children it might be quite scary, all these freaks letting off the fireworks, but it’s a lovely atmosphere. And then they have this band in the street, all sorts of dancing outside the pubs, and you really don’t get that in many places.

I recommend The Hastings Arms

There’s curry night on a Tuesday, it’s all really freshly cooked. It’s only £6.50 and you get a glass of wine as well. I like having those little routines that fill up the week.

We’ve yet to visit the nudist beach

It’s quite close and called Fairlights. We haven’t been there yet, though Dave has been promising to take me.

My parents love to visit

When you’re in London you’re a stranger, and that’s why you go there in the first place, for some anonymity, and for me because I wanted to be in a band. Hastings I feel like that’s all behind me, even though I’m still in a band. It wasn’t a conscious choice for me to move out of London, it just happened naturally. I feel really pleased that I did do it, my mum and dad came down to stay in a really nice B&B and my dad couldn’t believe how well they were treated. We know the gay guy that runs it and he really looked after them. We had fish and chips with them, and they really liked it.

There are quite a few gay people here

It’s quite a small group really. There used to be a gay bar, but not anymore. The gay people own bars, things like that. I go down some times, I haven’t DJ-d at any gay nights yet, just at parties like the scout hut. Usually it’s to raise funds for our friend Vanessa, who runs pottery classes for kids. You pay a fiver and the funds go to that.

You do run into bad politics

Another friend of mine, who used to go out with Dave, started a thing called the Arts Forum in Hastings, the local artists go down and display their own work for a week or so, and they pay ten pounds a year for it. It was really too much work for him and he got ousted in the end. The in-politics are a bit… I don’t get involved, but sometimes it’s a bit much. There’s a lot of that from what I can see. It’s all to do with the council and things like that.

I love the fishing heritage of Hastings

I’ve always had this romantic notion about going off to sea, and the sea is in a lot of our songs. One of the toughest jobs in the world is being a fisherman, and Dave has that in his blood. It’s quite funny because he doesn’t like fish. I love it, because I was a landlocked boy I suppose.

People are wary at first…

…but when they get to know you they’re really nice. Honestly you couldn’t ask for a nicer reception. It’s not been people being over the top because you’re in a band and things like that, it’s because they know that I love Dave.

Pop! Remixed is out now on Mute, Total Pop! – Erasure’s first 40 Hits – is out on 23rd February on double disc CD, download and as a deluxe box set with three CDs and a DVD

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