Interview: Carol Lewis Discusses Tony Lewis’ Posthumous EP, ‘More Than I Dared’, The Outfield

Photo: Carol Lewis

Following his unexpected death last October, the family of Tony Lewis, lead singer and bassist of the 1980s rock band The Outfield, as well as accomplished solo artist, posthumously released his sublime new EP, More Than I Dared.

The EP follows Lewis’ acclaimed debut solo album, 2018’s Out Of The Darkness, and is rich with the spirit of The Outfield; particularly on songs like the hook-laden “Gonna Make You Love Me,” and “I Feel Alive.” Other highlights from More Than I Dared include the guitar-driven “One By One,” and the colorful “Then There Was You.” The latter of which an intriguing departure from Lewis’ signature style.

There’s a magical element to More Than I Dared that’s undeniable. A showcase of elements in Lewis’ musical arsenal as songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. With music by Lewis and lyrics contributed by his wife, Carol, More That I Dared is a welcome treat for fans and a fitting honor to the legacy of a man who’s music will live on for generations to come.

100% of net proceeds from the initial release of More Than I Dared will be donated to MusiCares, an organization Lewis was very fond of.

The Outfield [which also featured Lewis’ friend and longtime collaborator, John Spinks, who passed in 2014] 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-five years later, “Your Love” and Lewis’ signature vocal opener: “Josie’s on a vacation far away…” continues to be featured in compilation albums and commercials as well as streamed nearly a million times a week.

I recently spoke with Carol Lewis about More Than I Dared, Tony, The Outfield and more in this exclusive new interview.

What inspired the new EP?

Carol Lewis: The EP was inspired by Tony’s newfound solo career. He wanted to show that he had grown in confidence as a composer and producer and was keen to show another side to his talent.

How would you describe More Than I Dared in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of Tony’s previous solo work or with The Outfield?

Carol Lewis: A lot of people thought Tony just sung the songs but he was so much more than just a vocalist. He was a very accomplished musician who could play lots of instruments. He had a vision of how he wanted to sound, and although there would always be Outfield influences he wanted to add a different dimension to show where his own personal influences and style came through.

What was the songwriting process like for the two of you?

CL: Tony was always producing backing tracks and working on new ideas. He would sometimes spend all day in his studio and then play them for me. Then I would ask him what he was trying to say, and he’d say something like: “I have no idea, but it should go something like this….” Then he’d sing me something that made no sense. So I’d sit and think about scenarios from life and words would generally follow. The best time for me was while I was out running. It gave me clarity to make sense of things and what he wanted to say.

I’d like to ask you about each song on the EP and get your thoughts on them, beginning with “Gonna Make You Love Me.”

CL: Tony loved playing this live. He tried it out with his “fabulous band,” as he called them, at a sound check one night and they enhanced the song even more. I remember being in the audience when this was performed and you could really see the crowd responding. Some people even thought it was an Outfield song from the 80’s.

“One By One”

CL: Tony didn’t initially like these lyrics. He said they were too cheesy. But I stuck to it and eventually, like most couples, I won… [laughs].

“My World”

CL: This song is about fighting injustice and not giving in. Not allowing anyone to take away what you love.

“I Feel Alive”

CL: It’s a song about the acceptance of who you are and what you feel. How you should never change or fit into a box for anyone.

“Then There Was You”

CL: This was a departure from Tony’s usual style. He wanted to show that he wasn’t just a one trick pony. It’s a song about us meeting.

“I’m Falling”

CL: This is about unrequited love. People sharing a moment in time then moving on from each other, but one of them wasn’t ready to let go.

What made you decide to donate all the proceeds from More Than I Dared to MusiCares?

CL: The pandemic has all but wiped out the music industry overnight. Not just musicians but road crew, sound crew, tour bus drivers. Everyone that makes the musician look and sound good. So it was fitting to give back to the industry that Tony loved.

How did you and Tony first meet?

CL: We met when Tony was a semi-professional musician at the Marquee Club in London in February of 1984. I’d gone with my friend to see the band Stray and the Baseball Boys opened for them. I just knew when I saw him on stage that I would marry him. I even told my friend who was with at the time. After the show, Tony asked: “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” and moved in with me five days later.

The Outfield’s songs like “Your Love,” and “Say it Isn’t So,” have become synonymous with the 80s. What were Tony’s thoughts on those early tracks? Did the band think they’d have such longevity when they were written?

CL: The Outfield were just three blokes from the East End of London who never dreamt that their sound would capture the zeitgeist of the 80’s. They never took it for granted and were truly grateful when their careers took off. John [Spinks] called the lyrics to “Your Love” out to Tony while he strummed on his guitar, and Tony sat on an amp and wrote them longhand on a sheet of paper, which I still have. Tony loved The Outfield music and never tired of performing the songs. He particularly enjoyed the new The Outfield demos release and would listen to it and laugh and then recall the events whilst they were being recorded.

What’s something about Tony that no one else knows about?

CL: Tony was an ardent recycler and I would often get a lecture for putting things in the wrong bin. I remember one night on the Retro Futura tour he was waiting to go on stage and saw that the recycling needed emptying. So he carried the bag across the field wearing his stage clothes to dispose of it. Richard, the tour manager, said: “Hey Tony, all the crowd can see you with the rubbish. That’s not your job.” His answer was, “Rick, I’m saving the planet.” Tony was also a keen runner and was besotted with his three grandchildren. He enjoyed being with them, as he always said they were all the same age as him!

How would you like Tony to be remembered?

CL: With love, laughter and singing.

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