Music interview: Curved Air

Sonja Kristina of Curved Air. Picture: Vincenzo Nicolello Photography

Sonja Kristina of Curved Air. Picture: Vincenzo Nicolello Photography

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One of Britain’s most-respected progressive rock bands are back out on the road this year with a new album on the way in March.

Curved Air, fronted by the enigmatic and ethereal Sonja Kristina, released six critically acclaimed albums in the 1970s. They are best known for one of their rare singles. Back Street Luv reached number four in the UK in 1971.

After disbanding in 1976 the members pursued solo ventures, occasionally reforming, before Kristina formed a new Curved Air in 2008, which saw them play the Isle of Wight Festival.

In 2012, they released a live album and this year will see a brand new studio album from the band. Sonja says that, despite there being a few new members, it sounds very much like Curved Air, both musically and lyrically. “It’s called ‘North Star’. My lyrical themes are to do with the state of the world as it is at the moment and all the explosive changes that are going on, so North Star is the guiding light forwards and it was also the name of my house where we did our final rehearsals and writing before we went in to record. People say it has a contemporary edge, but it is certainly the fine virtuoso musicianship you’d expect from Curved Air, with some interesting atmospheres and dramas.”

Curved Air has included 20 different musicians since its formation, including Police drummer and Kristina’s ex-husband, Stewart Copeland, who appeared on the band’s last two studio albums in the 1970s. Sonja has remained the only constant member. In typical Curved Air fashion, they had to find a replacement for their latest guitarist, Kit Morgan, midway through the recording of their new album.

The replacement came in the shape of Kirby Gregory, who was a member of Curved Air for a year in 1973 and appears on the album Air Cut. “It was good timing for Kirby, he was really pleased to be asked to rejoin the band, and Kit had suggested that we get the new guitarist in to play on the album”, says Kristina.

Sonja has cited Air Cut as her favourite album by the band, which is possibly why Kirby was a good choice. “Being the vocalist, I am in the hands of the musicians, often, and they dictate how the song is mixed to a large extent. I don’t always agree with they way my vocals have been mixed and things. That’s why I think I had more input in that way, being the oldest original member on Air Cut.”

Curved Air play at Fruit in Hull on April 2 and The Greystones in Sheffield on April 3. www.curvedair.com

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