A few hours before Erasure's show in Manchester, we sat down with front-man Andy Bell to have an interesting, in-depth converation about the band's brilliant career.

Read the interview below, where Andy discusses the new record, how the industry has changed over the years, the commercialisation of music and being diagnosed with HIV.

Also be sure to check out more Erasure coverage, including a live review, exclusive rehearsal video footage and a review of new album Tomorrow's World.

-You've announced 'Be With You' as the next single. What was it about that track that lent itself to being a single?
I don't really know. It's just about being away so much, being in a new relationship. I've probably seen the guy maybe eight weeks, in one and a half years...so, it's about that really. Just about wherever we are, I'm always thinking of them.

-Is it still hard being on the road that much, despite your long career?
It's what you have to do now, really. I mean, we've always toured the whole time. Because that's how people, managers, make their money, they always keep tagging on shows. We're going back to North America after we've played here.

We already did 65 shows this year, this bit is 25 shows, and now they've pencilled in 50 more shows. Once the ball gets rolling...well, you can say no. It's more money for you though, you know what I mean?

-Has it always been that way, with touring being the way to make money? A lot of relatively newer artists are just realising this now.
For us, we did make a lot of money with records, but that all dropped off in the mid-90s for us. So, we edged to it really before the bubble burst for everyone else.

-Do you think the effect the internet has had on music has been a factor in that?
I wouldn't know, really. It's really weird. I remember reading an interview with Debbie Harry, and she says that you're either a superstar, or there's all the rest of you.

Superstars are, like, 5% maybe of the whole industry. I wouldn't call them The X Factor superstars, but the kinda people that are on the TV all the time. I think everybody else...you sell...maybe 50,000 if you're really, really lucky.

-Did coming through the way you did, maybe not as strict journeymen but that kinda idea, benefited you?
Definitely. Taking North America for example, we've only had maybe four Top 40 radio hits there. We can still go there and tour, and sell out all over the place. It's like a word of mouth thing, just having the reputation for doing a good show. Basically, I think that's it really. Putting on a good show, and doing good songs, I suppose.

-You mentioned how long you've been on the road already with this tour. How's it been going?
It's going really good! With the Forest Shows, they were all outdoors, and it p***** it down with rain for every show, apart from one. It seemed hellish, but we were so grateful for the audiences being there and standing in the pouring rain watching us.

It was a bit of a baptism of fire doing that. We all got colds. I only got it right at the end, so I've been really lucky this time. Really healthy, drinking juice. It really makes a difference, you know?

-Has life on the road changed a lot over the years? Has it got easier?
We've never toured on a bus before, that's what we've done this time. That was really to save on hotel costs. We all seem to go through cycles, it's really weird. I know this is for a women's magazine, but it's like a menstrual cycle when you're on tour.

Everyone goes through these sleep patterns as well. Just as the moon's getting full, you can't sleep, then once it's full, you can sleep properly. It's a bit weird.

-Have you learnt to cope on the road over the years, picking up tips along the way?
It goes in waves. You go through periods when you get depressed, you get on each other's nerves, then you'll blow up cos you've only slept for three hours. It'll all settle back down again and you'll be happy for a little while.

-Moving away from touring to talk about Tomorrow's World - how's the reaction been so far?
I think it's been really amazing. In the first place, the reason I wanted to take a break from Erasure was precisely for that. It was to get a bit of anticipation going rather than force-feeding people music the whole time.

We'd had 13 albums before this one, and I wanted to do a solo project. That experience just came through on the new record. I was waiting for ages to make a Erasure dance record, properly, which this feels like. I've been really pleased with the reaction.

-Was there anything different with the writing or recording process after a relatively bigger gap?
Usually, we're pretty hands-on, and we see it through from the beginning to the end. This time, we were much more...let Frankmusik do what he wants to do.

Me and Vince...we were working together, apart from writing the songs which were very reinterpreted by Frank...probably, out of the whole process, about six weeks. It wasn't that long really.

I think he's done a brilliant job. I couldn't have asked for anything more. He was kinda my instinctive choice.

-As you said, this is your 14th album. What do you think is the secret behind the band's longevity?
Vince and I have been quite similar in our approach, quite down to earth. We're not really involved in show-business really, in the gossip magazines and all that stuff. I think it's kept us with a realistic view of what it's like.

-Is it important to stay grounded?
Definitely. One thing people don't realise, when they read about The X Factor and all these things in the papers, how they've made so much money, jetting around. They're paying for everything. That's usually why they end up broke after five years or so.

-They seem to get a fast-track to fame, and then drop off. Do you have an opinion on The X Factor at all?
Well, I think the format's becoming very predictable. The type of people they choose is quite predictable. The kind of people that are attracted to these shows are some psychological type of person.

As you say - the fast-track to fame kind of thing. I would prefer to do it on my own, join a band and do it that way. I don't want to discredit those people, of course, but it's a different thing.

-In 2004 you announced that you'd been diagnosed with HIV. Was it a hard decision to make it public?
It felt quite tricky. Before I was diagnosed, my boyfriend was diagnosed in 1990. A guy had stolen my jacket in a nightclub, and he told one of the newspapers that I was his boyfriend and that I had infected him. It was all lies.

At the time, I'd had my appendix out, and they'd tested me anyway - it was negative. When I found out that I was positive, this was about five years later, that whole thing was on my mind.

That's why it took me a while to come to terms with the whole thing. It's such a shock. I think people's reactions are different. Sometimes it takes half a year, sometimes people just don't want to face it.

I'd much rather not be, but at the same time there is solidarity in the HIV community.

-Was it something that affected the atmosphere in the band for a while?
I don't think so. At that time, Vince and I were quite self-destructive in our behaviour then. We were taking quite a lot of ecstasy and coke. We were very bleak with our outlook. I think that added to the whole thing.

-Is it important that people with a platform use it to raise awareness of certain issues?
I can understand why illness can be a very personal issue. You want to keep it to yourself and your family, and keep it private. I thought with the whole HIV thing, cos it affects millions of people, I just wanted to be counted. The HIV community, especially in London, is really amazing. The care that we have, the treatment we get, is amazing.

-Moving back to the music, given the length of your career, what differences have you noticed as the industry's been shifting?
It's hard to know. We're quite...I don't know if this is the right word, but quite polarised, cos of how we started. Then, we had a time when we were on TV all the time and did any show that was going.

When the Spice Girls came along it became very commercial, and they were advertising anything that was going. We'd never done that before. We'd been asked in 1995 whether we'd include a free scratch card with one our singles, and we said no.

That doesn't mean if you got an advert for Coca Cola, you'd say no. We do have one in Argentina. It's quite good to be choosey about those things.

Now it seems to be that, because the outlet isn't so wide for music now, it seems like young artists, they aspire to have their music on adverts. I think that's sad.

-Well, there's a punk band from Camden called The King Blues whose song was used, but they justified it as a way for them to make money to support the band. Do you think it's justifiable in that way?
Well, I think it's a way of getting your music promoted. Moby...with his biggest album, they licensed every track to a commercial. It seemed like you were selling your soul.

I don't know if I would feel comfortable with that. It's nice to have your music on the TV, but it gets to a point where it's saturated.  It's just everywhere. Sometimes, it doesn't even depend on the song - it's just who they are.

-Definitely. Looking to the future, besides the tour dates, what else is there on the horizon?
Well, there's nothing really. We thought we'd like to do some writing, not for anything. Just to try write for the sake of writing.

Female First - Alistair McGeorge

A few hours before Erasure's show in Manchester, we sat down with front-man Andy Bell to have an interesting, in-depth converation about the band's brilliant career.

Read the interview below, where Andy discusses the new record, how the industry has changed over the years, the commercialisation of music and being diagnosed with HIV.

Also be sure to check out more Erasure coverage, including a live review, exclusive rehearsal video footage and a review of new album Tomorrow's World.

-You've announced 'Be With You' as the next single. What was it about that track that lent itself to being a single?
I don't really know. It's just about being away so much, being in a new relationship. I've probably seen the guy maybe eight weeks, in one and a half years...so, it's about that really. Just about wherever we are, I'm always thinking of them.

-Is it still hard being on the road that much, despite your long career?
It's what you have to do now, really. I mean, we've always toured the whole time. Because that's how people, managers, make their money, they always keep tagging on shows. We're going back to North America after we've played here.

We already did 65 shows this year, this bit is 25 shows, and now they've pencilled in 50 more shows. Once the ball gets rolling...well, you can say no. It's more money for you though, you know what I mean?

-Has it always been that way, with touring being the way to make money? A lot of relatively newer artists are just realising this now.
For us, we did make a lot of money with records, but that all dropped off in the mid-90s for us. So, we edged to it really before the bubble burst for everyone else.

-Do you think the effect the internet has had on music has been a factor in that?
I wouldn't know, really. It's really weird. I remember reading an interview with Debbie Harry, and she says that you're either a superstar, or there's all the rest of you.

Superstars are, like, 5% maybe of the whole industry. I wouldn't call them The X Factor superstars, but the kinda people that are on the TV all the time. I think everybody else...you sell...maybe 50,000 if you're really, really lucky.

-Did coming through the way you did, maybe not as strict journeymen but that kinda idea, benefited you?
Definitely. Taking North America for example, we've only had maybe four Top 40 radio hits there. We can still go there and tour, and sell out all over the place. It's like a word of mouth thing, just having the reputation for doing a good show. Basically, I think that's it really. Putting on a good show, and doing good songs, I suppose.

-You mentioned how long you've been on the road already with this tour. How's it been going?
It's going really good! With the Forest Shows, they were all outdoors, and it p***** it down with rain for every show, apart from one. It seemed hellish, but we were so grateful for the audiences being there and standing in the pouring rain watching us.

It was a bit of a baptism of fire doing that. We all got colds. I only got it right at the end, so I've been really lucky this time. Really healthy, drinking juice. It really makes a difference, you know?

-Has life on the road changed a lot over the years? Has it got easier?
We've never toured on a bus before, that's what we've done this time. That was really to save on hotel costs. We all seem to go through cycles, it's really weird. I know this is for a women's magazine, but it's like a menstrual cycle when you're on tour.

Everyone goes through these sleep patterns as well. Just as the moon's getting full, you can't sleep, then once it's full, you can sleep properly. It's a bit weird.

-Have you learnt to cope on the road over the years, picking up tips along the way?
It goes in waves. You go through periods when you get depressed, you get on each other's nerves, then you'll blow up cos you've only slept for three hours. It'll all settle back down again and you'll be happy for a little while.

-Moving away from touring to talk about Tomorrow's World - how's the reaction been so far?
I think it's been really amazing. In the first place, the reason I wanted to take a break from Erasure was precisely for that. It was to get a bit of anticipation going rather than force-feeding people music the whole time.