Deseret News 1st August 2008
Musicians still in League

Scott Iwasaki

When MTV first hit the airwaves in 1981, one of the staple bands was the Human League.

The band's trademark song, "Don't You Want Me," from the No. 1 album "Dare," found itself imbedded in the pop-music culture and is still recognized today by music fans of all ages.


"I think the music world turned a corner at that time," Human League singer/keyboardist Phil Oakey said during a phone interview from a recording studio in Sheffield, England. "It was around that same time that synthesizers became available to the regular people like me. And for some reason that was the time we decided to form a band."


Contrary to what most people think, the Human League -- Oakey, Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley -- never stopped doing shows. In fact, one of the group's biggest audiences was at the Hollywood Bowl back in 2006, where the band performed for 18,000 people.


"That's one of the challenges we face today," Oakey said about misconceptions that the band is no longer together. "The music business has changed so much in the last decade that it gets harder and harder for us to

get our music out to people.


"Even now in my own hometown, someone will run into me at a store and say, 'Do you guys ever play live?' It's a bit disturbing, but it's the way things are. And that's why tours like the 'Regeneration Tour' are important for us."


Oakey said the band's last studio album, "Secrets," was the first Human League album that didn't reach the Top 30 of the United Kingdom music charts.


"That took us aback for a bit," said Oakey. "We realized that we have to find different ways to get our music to people. And to be honest, listeners have grown older. They don't go out of their way to find music like they did when they were teens."


Still, that doesn't stop the Human League from making new music.

"We're recording a new album, and it's halfway finished," said Oakey. "We don't have a label and don't have a distribution plan, yet. But I'm lucky to have been playing music my whole life, and the set we do for the tour will be for the fans. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't be here."