Martyn Ware apologies for being late for our call. “I’ve just got off the phone to Howard Jones,” he says, “interviewing him for the podcast”.
Which comes as no surprise, though the latest subject for his series ‘Electronically Yours’ could have been any of a hundred or so luminaries of the music scene, and beyond. Indeed, being the interviewee is something of a novelty for the Heaven 17 and Human League founder.
“I’ve got… 132 either done or in progress,” says the Sheffield musician, who has drawn from his ‘black book’ of contacts for the series.
This veritable guestlist of pop has 48 marked ‘done’ including Boy George, Gary Numan, and Nile Rodgers, but the common factor is what makes the series such an appealing listen – we’re eavesdropping on a couple of mates chatting.
“Often you meet people on festivals and gigs and you pass the time of day but don’t get the chance to dig deep and find out what makes them tick,” Ware recounts.
“I try to make it look as effortless as possible, but I think there’s a certain expertise involved now which I understand.
“I know so many people in the music industry,” he continues, “and fortunately I get on with a lot of them – people like Howard, we’ve shared bills for years, so we have a different perspective and common experience.”
As with so many of his contemporaries, a lack of gigs during the pandemic forced Ware to try something different.
“During lockdown I decided to write an autobiography to keep me from going crazy and occupied,” he reveals.
However, when the book was done - it's due out next spring - another project was required.
“(During lockdown) I became obsessed with autobiographies,” Ware admits,”especially ones read by the people who lived it, and that’s why I do the podcast – they’re like mini-biographies.”
The episodes are mainly with musicians – even the appearance of scientist Brian Cox stems from his time as keyboard player in ’90s act D:Ream – but obviously the interview wish list will remain incomplete.
Ware lists David Bowie and Wendy Carlos – his “all-time musical hero” – as his favourite ‘unattainable’ guests, alongside Prince, who he had approached to perform guest vocals, but who was apparently unwell at the time.
That was for his British Electric Foundation series, a project with Heaven 17 bandmate Ian Craig Marsh which saw the pair work with some megastars including Tina Turner, her career revitalised by working with BEF – but lockdown has even seen some good friends less willing to reminisce.
One thing missing from most podcasts (due to licensing) is actual music, from his guests, but Ware prefers his format anyway.
“Put music in and it turns into Desert Island Discs!” he laughs. “That’s fine, but people want to hear more on life experiences. Well, I do!”
Hear ‘Electronically Yours’ at anchor.fm/martyn-ware.