'80s music icon Adam Ant has had more than his fair share of drama and publicity. After shooting to fame with Adam and the Ants in the late '70s and early '80s with hits such as Stand and Deliver, and Prince Charming, it seemed that the white-striped Dandy Highwayman could do no wrong. But soon he was hitting headlines for the wrong reasons, with a series of incidents eventually leading to his being sectioned. Now fully recovered, Adam announced his comeback last year and has been putting on shows ever since, proving wrong those who thought he wouldnít be up to it. Lucy Macdonald grabbed the opportunity to talk to the man behind the music.
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What made you decide that this is the year to get back into performing?
First off, Iíve missed doing it, and secondly Iíve got an album finished and we are ready to come out with it [titled Adam Ant is The Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunners Daughter]. Iíve got a very good new band so itís time to get going.
You are doing a gig in Clacton-on-Sea, on 8th October. How do the smaller venues like this one differ to playing big arenas and festivals?
It doesnít make any difference to me. I played to 40,000 Rod Stewart fans the other day, but I donít care if there are only 100 people there. They are going to get the same show. I just want to do the songs as best as I can and give people value for money.
Will we hear the new stuff on the tour?
We will probably do one or two, but primarily people want to hear what they know me for; the hits, the rarities and some of the early stuff. Iíve written over 150 songs so out of that lot thereís quite a lot of choice. I like to give the audience the show Iíd want to see.
Are you getting a new generation of fans coming to see you, or is it still primarily the fans from the '80s?
There are certainly fans from previous times but they are bringing their kids, so the audience is really young. In fact, the bulk of the audience is probably under 25, which is quite surprising and rewarding. I can only assume that they heard the songs in the house growing up. They [the songs] have been on those video channels over the years so I suppose they then picked up on that as well. Iím surprised at the age and very happy to have them.
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How do you feel about the current music scene?
The music scene has given up on any kind of tactile relationship between customer and artist. Theyíre putting their faith in downloads, which donít really exist; you get nothing for your money. Itís a shame. The quality of the downloads is horrendous, but my album will come in vinyl, CD and boxset. The quality of the sound is better and itís something thatís very personalised. Iím not doing downloads. You donít get paid because people download it illegally and therefore the songwriters donít get the royalties. Iím just trying to give out good quality artwork and something youíd want to keep forever, not something for mobile phones.
What artists or bands do you like at the moment?
Things kind of shut down for me after Blur and Suede. It took a bit of a nosedive. But Kasabian are pretty good and the Kaiser Chiefs. A lot of good stuff is coming from the underground. A lot of that music is American music, kind of punchy music and thatís pretty good, but thereís nothing yet thatís made me want to get a ticket and see someone, although I saw The Killers and they were pretty good. But in terms of comparing that creativity with what came out of Great Britain between late í76 Ė í77 and í81, it doesnít even hold a candle to it.
I heard that you have your own record label now. Is that true?
Yes, the label is called Blueblack Hussar. Iíve got three bands on my label that Iíve been writing with. Theyíre all girls bands and really good. They write and perform, and theyíre great. When people come to see me on this tour they will be seeing not only my new band and my stuff, but also the bands that have signed to my label that I think have got talent, and maybe people will catch on. Thatís what happened with Adam and the Ants. We started with five people in the audience and brought it up to millions.
Is it also true that you are bringing out you own fashion line next year?
Yeah, itís called Blueblack Hussar at Pimpernel. Iím in partnership with a guy called Rob Lucas, who does military fashion. The stuff that Iíve been wearing onstage is actually stuff that I designed with him. Weíre hoping to bring out a unisex line next year. A lot of women actually ask about the clothes, and I think they would be attracted to a unisex range. That would be quite something. We are going to take our time but itís going to be very good quality stuff.
[caption id="attachment_605" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="A hint of what's to come with Adam's fashion line"]
In recent interviews you have been extremely open about your personal life and mental health issues. Are you hoping that your honesty will provoke change in the way that mental health issues are addressed?
This stems from my book Stand and Deliver which I wrote in 2003. The book brought up this question because people obviously were asking. I wrote everything down for them so that they would know and there was nothing left to ask. Every single day somebody comes up to me and says, ďI gained a lot of strength from what you wrote, thank you for that.Ē Iíve asked various friends of mine in the entertainment industry, who have mentioned suffering from mental health issues, to come together and do a television show where the politicians, doctors and psychiatrists sit around the table and have an open discussion. I think the subject is surrounded by taboo, ignorance and under financing. Iím doing that at the moment, and hopefully it will come out in the next few months.
What are your goals for the future?
I just want to be consistent. I just want to bring out the next album. At the moment Iím writing the fourth Adam and the Ants album because Iím putting the band back together. Really I still want to be making records when Iím 90, like Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra. They are my inspiration because they never stopped singing. The only difference is that I write my own songs, but it would be nice to write with other people. Iím very happy that my songs have been recorded by Robbie Williams and Nine Inch Nails and various people, and featured in films like Shrek 3. Itís a compliment when a song that you wrote 30 years ago is used in the biggest film in the world. Iím quite happy to be a singer-songwriter and to try and push the envelope a bit with every release that I do.
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To book tickets to see Adam Ant at The Venue in Clacton-on-Sea, visit their website.