Eurythmics: Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox

•• Eurythmics - Reliving their sweet dreams...
•• Published: musicOMH, November 2005
•• Original article:

Sat stock still with hands on knees, as if in deep meditation, Annie Lennox has her eyes gently resting shut while Dave Stewart is masked by trademark fly-eyed sunglasses, spending a rare half hour in quiet contemplation.

The two Eurythmics become part of their surroundings, another icon to go with the giant photographic portraits adorning the walls and the selection of striking videos both past and present that flicker on the screens behind them.

This is far from the explosive alchemy they have enjoyed over the past 25 years, an impulsive chemical reaction which saw their latest single conceived and recorded in a flash. Dave Stewart explains, "Annie was with us on holiday just for about a week, nine weeks ago and we went to my studio. She just wanted to have a look because I've been building a new studio and within an hour we'd written I've Got A Life and by the time we were driving home we were playing it in the car." These surges of creativity are how they work best together: "You've got to go on your gut instinct and you haven't got the time to follow fashion or try and be part of a trend or fashion."

Surely with a string of worldwide hits and over 75 million album sales under their belts, there must be an element of pressure to live up to past glories though? Not so apparently: "Well only pressure from ourselves. I mean, I feel pressure from within, you want to keep creating really good things, it's not really to do with any pressure from outside." An attitude which pays little, if any, attention to the notoriously fickle British media. "Because Britain is an island and it's very small, the turnover and the circulation happens very quick so after three years you can be finished," Stewart explains, "I understand that they can't keep writing about the same thing over and over because everybody's read it and seen it but then the only thing they can do is get rid of that and go on to the next thing. But some other countries, Australia, America, Japan, they're slightly more like… osmosis." In Britain's favour, he counters, "there's so much going on here, so many brilliant artists, sculptors, painters, music, it's just phenomenal."

There is also much to get excited about the current state of the music scene, "I love the Arctic Monkeys, I love Bloc Party, I love Beck". Though of the critics he says: "You know something about a lot of artists, like Bob Dylan or Beck, when we're together talking, or Lou Reed, if anybody mentions British press coverage, it's irrelevant, aarrggh!" This is far from any arrogant name-checking exercise though. At times portrayed as an eccentric by the media, Dave Stewart is much more humble in person than you may expect, as demonstrated by his two favourite images on display at the exhibition, one in which he has his back to the camera, the other with his face blurred in the background, Annie Lennox taking centre stage.

His ego may remain untouched but he is now well-adjusted to the global success which held many surprises for the duo during their eighties heyday: "In Britain, There Must Be An Angel was number one, in America it didn't get in the top 100, but in America Missionary Man was like, massive. In the beginning we didn't understand the sort of cultural forces in the US: it's very rock and hip you know? And we'd probably think it was very quirky, There Must Be An Angel at the time and a photograph of chaos: me playing the mad sand king. We were taking the piss out of our position ourselves. So in America it was like, 'What the hell's going on?', me wearing a King Louis XIV wig!"

Which again raises the issue of image. Seemingly almost as much of a focus as the music at times, there are few artists who have such striking, instantly recognisable imagery attached to them as Eurythmics do. Indeed, there are few acts who would warrant an exhibition of their artwork: "If you look around this room and if you're old enough, every one [image] is a massive icon of like the past. Now, so many bands you could put everything up on the wall and go: 'Everyone? OK...'."

Each stage of Stewart and Lennox's quarter century together is clearly documented by the images on display at London's Air Gallery, but rather than the two new tracks heralding another major phase in their evolution, it appears a complete new album is still off the cards. "Not at the moment because I think if you're younger, you've got to create like a whole album from scratch. You have to say hang on, two is enough for now. I've got four children, you're bombarded with like, responsibilities not so much as administration, which is a pain in the arse. The administration of your life."

That may be the case for now, but with the impulsive nature of their long-standing friendship, it seems unlikely this will be the last we hear, or indeed see, of the Eurythmics: sitting still is something of rarity for them.

- Ian Roullier, 11/2005
Copyright © Ian Roullier 2004-2014