Glam-punk Adam Ant is set to undertake his first UK tour in 15 years. He tells Andy Coleman that he's enjoying a new lease of creative life.
Some would say it is amazing that Adam Ant – or Stuart Goddard to give him his real name – has survived.
The darling of the early ‘80s music scene, the man who was voted the sexiest man in America by the viewers of MTV has since experienced life’s highs and lows.
He scored ten UK top ten hits between 1980 and 1983, including three number ones – Stand and Deliver, Prince Charming and Goody Two-Shoes.
But he has also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, including appearing in court charged with criminal damage and spending time in psychiatric care after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
So it was something of a surprise to hear last year that the 56-year-old had begun performing again in London pubs and clubs. And to learn last week that the shows were so successful he was going on the road for a series of gigs, including Birmingham’s O2 Academy on June 1. The announcement was made at a 45 minute showcase at new London venue, Under The Bridge, part of the Chelsea football ground complex.
Adam was accompanied by his new band, The Good, The Mad and the Lovely Posse, which included co-writer and lead guitarist Chris McCormack and, on backing vocals, Georgina Baillie, the 25-year-old granddaughter of actor Andrew Sachs and the subject of crude messages from Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross which were played on Radio 2 in 2008.
Looking trim and full of energy, Adam stormed through a set of hits, album tracks and covers.
Afterwards he spoke to fans and media, although there was some apprehension about his state of mind.
He has been diagnosed as bi-polar and states that he wants to lead a campaign against anti-depressants which he says stifled his creativity.
In an online interview posted a day before the launch he seemed to ramble, swearing profusely and railing against the likes of Liam Gallagher and computer whizzkid Steve Jobs.
Adam’s performance on stage was flawless and when we meet he is calm and collected. I quiz him with two other hacks and he jokes that it’s like the early days of the Beatles when questions were fired at them by dozens of journalists.
He admits up front that he’s going on tour “because it’s what I do – and for the money,” adding, “I get more of a buzz on stage now because I know what I’m doing.”
He’s willing to talk about his 15 years away from the stage, although his perception of those wilderness years seems to differ from the official version of events which included causing affray in a pub.
‘‘Half of it was out of choice, I had my daughter and wrote a book, then I got locked up for no reason, in my view,’’ he says. ‘‘But I’m back. I just want to enjoy my repertoire and get the best out of the songs because I’m always looking for more from myself.
“And this new band is great, this band really kick butt, and they really care.’’
The album, Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter, set for release next year, is conceptual, starring the Blueblack Hussar.
“He’s the character who started in 1980 with the stripe across his nose,” Adam explains. ‘‘He’s been to Moscow and come back.
‘‘It’s 30 years later and what is he like? That’s the question. It’s very filmic, it’s like the Terminator. He’s lost his innocence but not his sensitivity. He’s very delicate but he’s strong. All he knows is war and this business is war and you have to fight to hold onto any artistic integrity that you have because otherwise you are just be a can of beans and I ain’t a can of beans.’’
Adam is planning another UK trek next year.
‘‘After some showcase gigs in America I’ll be coming back to do the Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter tour which is going to be presenting the new album. By that time people will have heard the singles and some of the album. I always want to play what the audience want to hear. You’ve got to give people what they want.’’
He gets animated when I ask about the way the album is going to be released and distributed.
‘‘It’s 18 songs, double vinyl, gatefold sleeve, CD and cassette. I’m not doing downloads because I don’t get paid and I don’t like it.
“I like recording analogue. I don’t buy into this mentality of downloading a fictional image with no artwork.
‘‘Let’s get it straight, we’re a punk band. We’re the one per cent who don’t care and won’t do what they’re told. And I survived. The Pistols made one album, I’m on my ninth.’’
* ADAM ANT June 1, O2 Academy, Birmingham Tickets: 08444 772000.