Out of The Darkness is the debut solo album from The Outfield’s vocalist/bassist, Tony Lewis, and the first since the passing of his friend and longtime collaborator, John Spinks, in 2014. The Outfield took the '80s by storm with their 1985 debut, Play Deep, and songs like "Your Love," "All The Love" and "Say It Isn't So”. More than thirty years later, “Your Love” is still featured prominently in compilation albums and commercials as well as streamed nearly a million times a week.
Lewis’ new album is rich with the spirit of The Outfield, particularly on songs like the catchy first single, “Into The Light” and the colorful “Here And Now", but that’s to be expected. The Outfield’s signature sound is ingrained in Lewis’ DNA. But there’s a new magic in Out Of The Darkness that’s undeniable. Perhaps its because Lewis showcases other strings in his musical bow as songwriter, producer, guitarist and drummer. A process Lewis himself says felt very natural. Regardless, Out of The Darkness is not only a nod to the past, it’s also welcoming wish to the future.
Out Of The Darkness will be released on Friday, June 29.
In addition to the new album, Lewis will also be part of this summer’s Retro Futura tour, which kicks off in Atlanta, GA on July 11.
AXS recently spoke with Tony Lewis about Out Of The Darkness, The Outfield, touring and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: How did the Out Of The Darkness album originate?
Tony Lewis: Basically, I had a four year hiatus following the passing of John. It threw me sideways. I couldn’t even pick up a guitar for a few years. Gradually, I started recording again and put some backing tracks together. I was struggling with lyrics when my wife, Carol, offered to help. She’s a great storyteller and most of her lyrics fit well. Everything just fell into place. But I didn’t set out to make an album. I just wanted it to be a body of work. They were songs I really believed in.
AXS: Let’s discuss a few tracks from the album, beginning with the first single, “Into The Light.” What can you tell me about it?
TL: The line “out of the darkness” means my venture back into the music industry after a four year hiatus. It’s about coming out of that dark period after losing John and getting back into the industry. After being known primarily as a singer in The Outfield, I wanted to re-emerge as a solo artist and show that have more than one string to my bow. It’s taken a long time but its something I really enjoy doing.
AXS: How about the track, “Here and Now”?
TL: That song is basically about letting go of the past and looking to the future. It’s an optimistic song with quite a bounce. I’ve always loved AC/DC and their groove. The heartbeat they’ve got with Angus Young’s guitar and Phil Rudd laying down that beat. That style heavily influenced those first two songs. It had that nodding groove and it came easily. I’m a strong believer that the best songs always come together very quickly.
AXS: Is there a message behind the song, “All Alone”?
TL: As an artist, that’s a song about selfishly putting the touring schedule ahead of everything else. I often had this conversation with my wife. It’s about me going off again on tour, even when there are things at home that need to be done. Being a musician can be quite selfish sometimes. They make themselves an island, and I’m the first to admit that.
AXS: You’re going to be touring as part of this summer’s Retro Futura. What can fans expect?
TL: It starts on July 11 in Atlanta and will go through the first week in August. It’s going to be a bit odd to only play a few songs. They may have to pull me off stage [laughs].
AXS: What do you think makes The Outfield’s music so timeless and special?
TL: I think it stems from our influences. All musicians get influenced by other bands. John and myself always had this thing about melodies and hooks when we were growing up in the sixties and seventies. That grew when we came to America for the first time and heard bands like The Cars and Journey and their melodic, evergreen sound. But we didn’t sit down and plan any of it. We just played music we were influenced by. Bands like The Rolling Stones, The Who, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin.
AXS: What was it like working with John?
TL: It was fun and very spontaneous. The two of us never really worked out harmonies. Even though our voices were so different; with the harmonies, it worked. I remember there was always a set period of time (usually around 9 or 10 o’clock at night) in the control room when everything would always come together.
AXS: When you were recording the first album, Play Deep, did you have any idea of how special it would become?
TL: We really didn’t. I remember the first single, “Say It Isn’t So” did well in certain territories, but it was never a national hit. Then, at the end of ’85, we came home for Christmas for a two-week break. The record company said they would put out the song, “Your Love” just to keep us in people’s minds while we were off the road. All of a sudden, it took on a life of its own. I’m still amazed because it only took twenty minutes to write.
AXS: Of all the highlights of your career, what stands out to you as most memorable?
TL: The most memorable one was probably when we played in Trinidad in the Port of Spain. I think there were between 40,000 and 50,000 people there. I remember all I could see was thousands of heads with body sweat coming off them. There was another gig like that when we played in Tampa in 1986 where all I could see was body heat rising from people’s heads. But the one in Trinidad is the one that really stands out because it was a country we had never been to before, and there were people there that loved The Outfield. Hopefully, people will adopt and love this new album as well. As for what happens next, we’ll have to see. Right now, I’m taking it one day at a time. One tour at a time.