Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey Shares 'What Kind of World' From First-Ever Solo Album: Premiere

James Cumpsty
Tom Bailey

After more than two decades away, former Thompson Twins frontman Tom Bailey is closing, er, the gap in his career.

Bailey will release his first-ever solo album, Science Fiction, on July 13; The video for the first single, "What Kind of World," premieres exclusively below. He's aware it's been a minute -- and then some -- but a return to playing live in recent years prodded him back into active recording duty, too.

"One thing leads to another in this life," says Bailey, who produced the album and recorded around the world, primarily on his laptop. "I had been kind of seduced back into playing old pop songs in concert, and I enjoyed it so much it became a kind of regular thing for me. And because I'm into exploring the creative challenge on these things, I wanted to not only contemporize old things but come up with new things as well. The next thing I find myself writing songs and then I realized there was a theme." And Science Fiction's title might give you an indication of what that was.

"When I wrote a song called 'Science Fiction' I thought, 'Yeah, that's the title for the whole album.'" explains Bailey, who was last heard from on 1996's Ether with his short-lived post-Thompson Twins group Babble. "I'm actually not particularly interested in science fiction; Science fiction you tend to think of as being about the future, but in fact it's about now, and it's a way of looking at now and whether we can shine new light on old problems that way. So I think it's a fascinating thing we've come up with as human beings, to fantasize about a future that is informed by the miracle of science understanding rather than just the same-old, same-old."

The kinetic, Thompson Twins-like "What Kind Of World" was inspired by both the deaths of David Bowie -- "He was no stranger to the kind of futuristic ideas I was writing about," Bailey notes -- and the visions of Elon Musk, particularly his ambitions to colonize Mars which both intrigued and troubled Bailey. "His plan to send people to Mars to save the Earth, that we have to become a bi-planetary race in order to have a future, is sort of an exciting thing, an optimistic thing. And I agree with him. But, of course, there's a downside, that thing where we think 'Oh, it's all right, science is going to solve it for us,' and so it gets us off the hook emotionally. And I really worry that the idea that Elon's going to send some rich people to Mars means we don't have to save the Earth anymore, and that's a really, really dangerous idea. So I'm debating those arguments in this song.

"And I've got to say it's a curious subject matter for a three-minute pop song. You have to work hard to get it all in there."

The release of Science Fiction is sending Bailey on the road again, this time back to North America for a late summer tour with Culture Club, with whom he's performed in Australia, and the B-52s. "That sounds like a dream ticket to me...a good night out," Bailey says, noting that the Australian dates with Culture Club spurred the summer tour "because it world so well. We had great fun, and there was a kind of synergy but not too much overlap between the two bands." Bailey particularly enjoyed the fact that Boy George "is in a great form" and more affable than he was at times back in the '80s.

"George is such an incandescent character," Bailey says. "He wasn't always the easiest guy to get on with because he was very self-assured and flamboyantly, explosively personal. There were times when I had to step back a little bit from George, but I must say on the Australian tour I went into it thinking, 'Mmm, I wonder how this is going to be,' and it was absolutely amazing. He was perfectly charming, really together in terms of his own health and welfare, so I was very impressed with him, I must say."

And what of Bailey's famously asymmetrical hair, made famous by so many videos 30-plus years ago. "It's still there," he says, "but it's gray. Put it that way."