My Weekend: Andy Booth

Times Online, September 7, 2007

Back in the 1980s, devotees of electronic music were well served by a band known as The Cassandra Complex. The band’s blend of the sounds of Joy Division, The Ramones and Kraftwerk acquired a cult following, especially in Germany, a country whose embrace of synth-pop remains steadfast to this day.

But fans of the genre may well have suffered from a Cassandra Complex of their own, were they to predict that guitarist Andy Booth would go on to become a lawyer. Disbelief might have crystallised into disdain had anyone also suggested that The Cassandra Complex would make a comeback in the early 21st century, with Booth, by then a successful lawyer, once again playing his six-string.

Andy Booth, 43, really did play in the band, he really did go off and become a lawyer, and, what’s more, he really is back with a vengeance.

In truth, The Cassandra Complex never went away. Formed in 1984 by Rodney Orpheus, the band may not have toured extensively during the 90s but its discography shows that albums continued to be made and released. Booth quit in 1988. Now the head of Company Commercial and Creative Industries at Manchester firm Turner Pakinson, he recalls that “creative differences” led to his departure: “We’d had a fantastic time with European tours and the release of our first single three months before my finals, but we all fell out in 1988. We’d recorded three albums by then but just spent too much time together.”

Upon leaving the band, Booth, a history graduate from Leeds University, took himself to a lawyer to determine his legal position. The experience was a turning point. “I realized that I knew a lot about music law by dint of my experience as a professional musician,” he recalls. “But equally, I looked at the legal landscape of the North of England – the birthplace of so many great bands – and realized that there wasn’t really anyone with a dedicated expertise in music law. So I thought ‘Here’s something I can do’ and went off to study law.”

Booth took the law conversion course at Chester College of Law from 1990-1991, and completed his Law Society finals the following year. There followed articles at Alsop Wilkinson and life as a solicitor with Wacks Caller before he joined Turner Parkinson in 1998. Throughout, he kept playing the guitar, albeit not in bands. How, then, did he come to find himself once again in the line-up with The Cassandra Complex?

“It wasn’t something I actively sought out,” he says. “But an approach came out of the blue to re-form the band and start playing seriously again, and I couldn’t resist it. I put it to my partners at the firm and their response was fantastic. They told me I wasn’t allowed not to start playing again.”

With Booth and the original quartet back together, The Cassandra Complex have played a number of gigs in Britain and on the continent this year, headlining a festival attended by 30,000 black-clad Goths in Leipzig (where else?) in May.

“Rehearsing is my Saturday job,” says Booth, who avows that none of the older and wiser members of The Cassandra Complex has any intention of playing full-time again. “It’s great that things have come full circle and that we’re all back together. We get on very well and will keep playing as long as we can. But we’re doing this because it’s a special thing, because we enjoy it, not because we’re hoping to make money out of it or want it to replace our other lives.”

Booth confirms that Germany remains the band’s core market, though it also has a solid fan base in Holland and Belgium. Plans are afoot to record a new album, and Booth says his wife Tracy thinks his reappearance as an active member of a cult band is “brilliant.”

Whether she would have predicted that her husband’s midlife Saturday job would see him gigging across Europe is not known, but one thing’s for sure: for Andy Booth, old rockers never die, but they do come back with a law degree.

www.cassandracomplex.co.uk