40 Years in the Making: Synth-Pop Legends Heaven 17 Talk First-Ever U.S. Headlining Tour

Heaven 17 (credit - Chris Youd)

After over four decades of touring and producing new-wave, synth-pop music all over the world, the legendary Heaven 17 is making their first-ever headlining North American tour, with 15 stops throughout the country. 

SoCal fans can finally see the British duo Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory in action this week, with a stop at The Belasco in Los Angeles on Sept. 29, House of Blues San Diego on Sept. 30, and the Observatory in Santa Ana on Oct. 1.  

Known for their greatest hits “Temptation,” “Let Me Go” and “Hands Up To Heaven,” the U.S. tour titled We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thang is sure to be a nostalgic experience for fans who have followed the group throughout their 40 years of eclectic music-making. 

Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware shared their thoughts on current music trends, staying fresh in the ever-evolving music industry, music influences, and more.  

What continues to spark your passion for the synth-pop genre? 

GG: I think people (artists) continue to innovate using synthesis as they do companies, both big and small, are pushed to make more interesting products both as physical instruments and soft synths for your DAW and this in turn leads to more creative innovation. It’s that ever-spiraling partnership that I find interesting.

MW: As it is now ubiquitous, we are proud of our musical influence, and still love the futuristic sound of synths…

Who are your biggest musical influences? 

GG: It’s a list: David Bowie, Roxy Music, Earth Wind and Fire, Dean Martin, Faust, Gong, Brian Eno

MW: Too many – Bowie, Moroder, Kraftwerk, Cameo, etc., etc.

Digging into your history, you have collaborated with many notable artists. What has been your most treasured collaboration? 

GG: I have worked with many artists over the years, it’s hard to pick a favourite but I think the collaboration with Tina Turner was a pretty spectacular high point. She’s such a beautiful person and a consummate professional and let’s not forget her amazing voice. 

MW: Tina Turner was a great pleasure, but I think Sananda Maitreya just wins.

What has been your most memorable career moment, and what makes it so special? 

GG: I’m going to say Heaven 17’s first-ever TV appearance which was on Top Of The Pops, which was a total British institution as we were growing up. Every Thursday night at 7 o’clock, you would be glued to the TV watching this chart show…and to find ourselves actually appearing on that iconic show was a massive high and something that has always stuck with me. 

MW: “Wishing Well” reaching number one on the Billboard Top 40 Singles Chart

What has been the most impactful shift in the music industry for Heaven 17 over the past four decades? 

GG: I think not just for us but for everyone wanting to create music, the biggest shift has been the computer and how now you can create pretty much any kind of music from your bedroom. On the flip side (down side), the way music as an art form has been devalued by record labels and streaming services. 

MW: Streaming – we hate it, so we release exclusively on vinyl now.

What does it mean to you to return to the US for a tour? 

GG: A lot of bloody travelling! And a real connection with Heaven 17 fans that have been waiting way too long to see us perform.

MW: We’ve never done a full headline tour in the US before – after 40 years!

With your longtime legacy, how do you keep your concerts fresh?

GG: We continue to change and evolve the live show, including reworking and sometimes reinventing older songs. We have a great connection with our live audience and the shows are an ever-changing conversation. 

MW: We constantly rework and remodel the arrangements – and we work with young fresh talent!

Are there any current synth-pop artists you feel deserve a shoutout? 

GG: I think synthesis is such a massive part of music now, but I like Chvrches. Billie Eilish dare I say. 

MW: Too many to mention – but those who focus on songwriting excellence are my favorites.

What is next for Heaven 17? 

GG: More live concerts around the world and Martyn and I actually talked about writing some new songs the other night. Watch this space. 

MW: More touring, and possibly a new album!

For more info and ticketing details, visit https://www.heaven17.com/live-dates


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