ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

60 Seconds with singer Seal

What inspired your new album, Standards?

The same as every album I make—great songs. These songs have stood the test of time.

You worked with some of the musicians Frank Sinatra worked with. What did that feel like?

It was the best part. It was so fulfilling—having tears in my eyes as the orchestra played the middle section of Smile and understanding the gravity of it was wonderful. Being able to record with some of the greatest musicians in the world in a real studio, live, singing with them—thats how old records were made and sadly it isnt like that any more.

Is making albums in this way quite an unusual experience now?

Thats how I was brought up to make them with my mentor Trevor Horn—my early records took time to make. We put a lot of effort and love into it, and there was respect of the craft. Its an experience thats too costly these days but fortunately for me Ive been spoilt—Im used to making records in the traditional sense.

How has the industry changed throughout your career?

The development of artists has been forgotten. Its obsolete. Youre dealing with diminished returns caused by copyright violation, so record companies dont invest as much as they used to. If my first single didnt hit, the record company moved on to the second single—thats because they initially signed me for millions of pounds so they had a vested interest. I was an investment. But people arent getting signed for that kind of money any more and record companies arent spending that sort of money on promotion. Also, because people arent paying for music, the perceived value of it no longer exists. If you dont pay for something, you dont respect it as much.

Did the Christmas songs on the album put you in a festive mood?

Yes, I guess they did. Every year when Christmas comes around, my kids ask when Im going to do a Christmas song and I havent before so Ive recorded a couple on this album to give them something to listen to.

Whats the best Christmas present youve received?

Just being with my kids and them being healthy and happy over Christmas, thats the best gift Ill ever receive.

Youre a judge on The Voice Australia. Would you fancy doing it here?

Only if it was authentic. My favourite part of the Voice experience is working with the artists. Thats why I did it in the first place.

(cont.)
I have an obligation to get them to where they need to go, so my agenda is to make the best use of our time. I understand Im employed to make a TV show but I see myself in every one of those artists Im fortunate enough to coach, so my first priority has to be to them. I havent been asked to do the one in the UK so who knows if Id do it?

The Voice hasnt produced a successful act yet—how come?

Because of the bulls*** deals theyre locked into afterwards. Its not about them being developed by great managers or a great record company—its about capitalising at any expense on the visibility theyve had over a few months on the TV show. Theyre in the infrastructure of this TV show where everything is done for them and at the end, whether they win it or not, its all whisked out from under them and its on to the next. But thats when they need good management the most. So its not a surprise that very few artists come from it and go on to be something.

You and your ex-wife Heidi Klum were famed for your Halloween outfits. Did you have a favourite?

The most exotic one was when we were chimpanzees. My ex-wife got the person who did the make-up on Planet Of The Apes to put the prosthetics on us, which was memorable. We had them glued to our faces, which was very uncomfortable.

Do you regret going on Loose Women and telling Coleen Nolan you dont like her song Im In The Mood For Dancing?

Did I say that? I dont remember it. Im sure it was all in good fun!

Youve lived in the US for more than 20 years. What do you miss about the UK?

The fact we dont have guns. The fact you cant go into a shop and buy a semi-automatic assault rifle along with your trainers. Thats something I miss about England… among other things.

Standards is out now