The Romantics' Mike Skill on The Weeknd Reviving 'Talking in Your Sleep' on 'Starboy': 'There's a Thirst for the '80s'
The Canadian pop star borrows the song's chorus for his own track "Secrets."
When The Weeknd's new album Starboy dropped last week, fans of '80s music might have noticed a few samples in the song "Secrets." The track prominently features one of that decade's biggest hits -- "Talking in Your Sleep" by The Romantics -- as well as a Tears for Fears nugget from "Pale Shelter."
The Romantics have been on a roll lately, with the Australian group 5 Seconds of Summer covering "What I Like About You" and now The Weeknd using "Talking in Your Sleep," which hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984.
Romantics guitarist Mike Skill said he just learned that the Canadian pop star used their song, which was originally released on the band's 1983 album, In Heat. "When they use a song, they have to go through the publisher. They don’t have to call us up personally and ask for it," Skill tells Billboard. "Then they just record it and put it out and we get our little cut of it."
Skill says he enjoys the "futuristic, electronica, techno" flavor of the song. "What's cool is he does a little bit of his own melody on the verse and the chorus," he says.
"It's good," Skill tells Billboard. "From what I can tell, I think it’s just a lot of the chorus in the end and he doesn’t follow the melody that we use. He kind of adds his own melody. It’s kind of a mash-up. Kind of a jam on top of a groove."
Skill says he's happy the Detroit band's music has found a new life. Snoop Dogg used the song years ago for his 2009 collaboration "Secrets" with Kokane, on the album Malice N' Wonderland, and The Civil Wars covered it on their album Poison and Wine.
"That’s the cool thing," he says. "A new crop of people get to hear it and find out about it. I think it kicks the original song into gear, sort of a next gear."
Skill says it's always flattering when an artist embraces one of their songs. "You can’t ask for something like that," he says. "Good songs will last the test of time. Good melodies, good attention to production. The band always had that. And there’s a thirst for the '80s, I guess, because of the structures of the songs, the melodies. It’s kind of a throwback to that."
All of this exposure comes on the heels of the 40th anniversary of The Romantics, which the band will celebrate in 2017. Skill says a new record will be released in February. "This is really just a little release of tunes that we really like," he says.
The record will include covers of "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" by The Animals and Billy Joe Royal's "Hush." Two new songs, "Outside Interest" and "Coming Back Home," will also be included in the package. A tour is in the works as well.
"We’re lucky, because The Romantics never had the hype that a group, for example, like The Knack might have had," he says. "The hype was huge, but ours was like a ground-swell thing. We were always on the road, never stopped touring, and we garnered support from radio and just by going out on the road. We were a hardworking band, and we still play."