ADAM ANT 2007
(The Carty interview)
In September 2006, Adam Ant released his autobiography, "Stand & Deliver". It has proved to be a key turning point in the recovery of one of the world's most recogniseable 80s icons. For up until that point, the future had looked exceedingly bleak for expectant Ant fans. However, as Adam said in his own words, he was "in recovery". That process has spawned not only an extra chapter written for the paperback edition of the book, but a series of promotional interviews for TV, radio and the printed press and culminating in his first return to the stage in over 11 years.
On 24th September 2007, the fans had finally known what they had hoped was true. Adam Ant was (is) back. The Bloomsbury Theatre performance sent out an almighty powerful message to the attendees, and since then there is an air of excitement back in the online Ant community which is filling the void since 1996, when adam-ant.net was created by Nancy Kelly.
The Internet has opened up the Ants' nest and brought many fans closer to the Ants than ever before. Sites such as adam-ant.net and cartrouble.nl have continued to bring news, views and opinions to an increasing number of loyal members of the expanding Insect Nation. Interviews with ex-Ants and related personnel proved to be as popular as ever, but what of the man himself? "When's the Adam Ant interview then, Carty?" was a question often posed.
Hot on the heels of Adam's Christmas 2007 hand-written message to the fans, adam-ant.net and cartrouble.nl are pleased to bring you Adam Ant's
©2006 Lesley Scott
Is this your first interview you’ve given purely for Internet publication?
No, I did one for C4Online last year.
Let’s set the scene. I’m sat in a windmill surrounded by tulips in the Netherlands, wearing clogs and orange pyjamas, while listening to the "Greatest Hits of the Tweets". Please describe where you are and what you’re wearing as you answer these questions.
I’m at home in England, sitting, and dressed comfortably.
In my Dave Pash interview from October 2007, he says the idea for the Bloomsbury gig came from your manager, Mal. Dave told me how he reacted on having that idea put to him. What was your response at the suggestion?
I thought it would be an interesting experiment to strip the songs and arrangements down to voice and classical guitar.
So why did you choose Dave Pash to accompany you on stage?
Because he’s the best classical guitarist I know and he’s a life-long friend.
Who else was involved behind the scenes, apart from Mal and Dave obviously?
My girlfriend Clare helped enormously, making helpful suggestions and styling me.
This was a big night for you, in such a more intimate proximity than other events you have done in the past. How were you feeling prior to going on stage?
I had no idea what to expect. You cannot take anything for granted after such a long lay off from live performance.
Dave said he didn’t expect to be walking on stage first. Did your nerves get the better of you?
Not at all. I thought it would be a surprise and a nice round of applause for him alone.
The applause and the standing ovations were numerous throughout the night, and you handled the heckling very well (for which I apologise for most of). How did all of this make you feel? From where I was sitting, the more appreciation you absorbed from the audience, the more relaxed and confident you seemed to become.
Having never ‘spoken’ to an audience, I was very aware of the silence and staying in one spot which did not come naturally to me. I really had no idea that the audience would find it as funny as they did.
What were your expectations of the event, and what memories stood out for you when you look back?
I expected to do a lot more reading, but the musical interludes became more and more animated.
As a result, do you now have the performing bug? If so, what are your plans with regards to performing again?
It’s obviously something that I have a natural inclination for. Though if doing it again it would be with a full band. The instrumentation could be most interesting though.
Tell us the story about when Michael Jackson called you. (No, seriously, don’t.)
Hang on a minute, this isn’t Terry mucking about is it?
Over recent years, many fans have commented how fed up they are with the frequency of Ant compilation albums, not to mention the lack of attention to detail and artwork.
Not as fed up as I am. Unfortunately I have had no control, though these things are now being studied professionally, to hopefully put an end to them happening again.
You’ve even discouraged fans from purchasing the latest compilation, "The Dandy Highwaymen". Why?
"Dandy Highwaymen" is yet another bad example of my not being informed.
Will the planned 30th anniversary singles box set include the correct 7" versions and b-sides, plus the extended mixes left off other compilations and the recently remastered CD’s? A vinyl release followed by a CD release perhaps?
SonyBMG have asked to meet regarding the Singles Box Set in January, so we’ll have more info then.
I find it fascinating that with over 30 Ants compilations, the 7” version of ‘Antmusic’ has never ever been released on a CD. Am I alone in caring about such details?
Some slip through the net. This can be addressed though.
30 years on after "Young Parisians" was released in October 1978, will this release include the MCA and EMI singles?
Wait and see...
Where did the idea come from?
It’s been in the pipeline for a long time and there seems to be some demand for it.
There has been talk about you recording new versions of some of the old Ant classics for future release. What sort of sound do you have in mind? An acoustic or unplugged feel?
Anything is possible and musical decisions will be made at the time.
In 2004 and 2005 your first six albums were remastered and released. How do they sound to you when you play them today (assuming that you DO play your old stuff)?
They sound OK, though I prefer the originals which are more earthy — and are what they are.
I read somewhere that you can’t listen to "Dirk" anymore. If that is true, why?
That phase is now over and I quite enjoy it these days.
Had you been able to be more involved in the remasters project how differently would you have done things?
I would have kept it exactly as it was, track-wise, though using technology to enhance the sound.
Let’s mention briefly, the demos box set project. The tapes have been located, baked, restored and remastered and the original idea was for a 4 or 5 CD collection of all your old pre-Kings demos, including the Decca sessions. Do you believe this, or something like it, will ever see the light of day? If not, then why not?
Were anything of this nature to ever take place it would have to be 100% in my personal creative control. A great number of dubious quality ‘demos’ have been acquired. The idea that these can just be boxed up and sold as a legitimate representation of an artist’s work is abhorrent to me.
In an age where most acts have DVDs galore in the shops, Ant fans had, for many years, nothing. Then, a few years ago, Marco announced plans for a new Ants DVD, to be called "Digital Tenderness". When I interviewed him in his home in 2005, the project was still in the planning stages but the old footage was looking and sounding superb, particularly the "Dirk Wears White Socks" track and video. Digital shopping baskets were filled as web sites accepted pre-orders only to have it withdrawn at the 11th hour. There are conflicting stories about why it was pulled and who really did the pulling. What’s your take on this?
This is a very delicate matter. Let’s just say that questions of ownership of material prevented its release.
Will a day come when old Ant VHS releases such as "The Prince Charming Revue" and "Live In Japan" will grace our shelves as DVDs?
That is being looked into.
Back in March 2007, three of your films were released on DVD, namely "Cold Steel", "Nomads" and "Slam Dance". What do you think of these movies when you watch them today?
I think I did my job, and was learning throughout.
Are there any other of your acting roles that you’re itching to see on DVD?
I would like them all to come out; that’s part of the reason for doing them in the first place.
Talking of the big screen, what films have you seen recently?
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End"
Ever since the 1980’s there have always been bootlegs of your material. Some were rather good for their time and others are best forgotten. You’ve even been known to autograph a few over the years. But now we are in the digital age bootlegging, by definition, has changed. What is your view on this and how it affects you and your music?
I think it is simply robbing the artist of a living.
25 years ago, kids would make compilation cassette tapes of their favourite tracks. Today they can put them on their own CD, design their own covers and make copies for their friends. Sites like MySpace, Multiply and YouTube allow people globally to share much more than a home-made CD. This has recently been a matter of controversy with recordings of your Bloomsbury gig appearing online. What’s your opinion on the current sharing culture?
The Bloomsbury was a live event not to be filmed, but hopefully to be enjoyed as a concert. If the gig is broadcast that way then I am very disappointed and unhappy with those doing it.
Most fans seem to own a copy of "Persuasion" and would love to see this get a full release. Obviously there are issues concerning its release with MCA, however would you like to see this album in the shops? Or have you put that project behind you for good?
I would very much like to see "Persuasion" released properly, with the artwork that I did etc. There was a legitimate reason for it to be shelved in the first place.
What did you think of the chapter on the Persuasion album in Dan Leroy’s book, “The Greatest Music Never Sold”, released in 2007?
I thought it was pretty accurate.
What can you tell us about your little known "Fist In The Skull" project and which tracks were to have been involved?
"Fist in the Skull" was an idea I had for a song. No more.
Having been in the glare of the public eye for most of your career, some could say it was inevitable that you would become tabloid fodder when your manic depression took over. Your autobiography goes into great detail over your manic and low episodes and there was a sense of satisfaction during that last chapter to read that you were in recovery and in control. That was over 12 months ago. How is your health now?
I feel much better now and getting stronger each day.
Some bi-polar victims have to avoid certain foods, or maintain regular sleep patterns to avoid chemical imbalances in the brain; otherwise they have to be aware of the early warning signs and take action. How has your day to day life changed in your fight to keep this under control?
It’s not a 'fight', but common sense. I eat sensibly and exercise well.
In early 2005, your former manager Don Murfet sadly passed away. Many fans were fortunate to meet him and his wife June at the Ant convention a few months earlier. They both spoke fondly of their past with you, which was reflected in his book "Leave It To Me". How were you affected by the news?
The loss of Don was indeed a great blow. He was a great, generous and considerate human being. He and his lovely wife June took good care of me. He will be sorely missed.
Whether you know it or not, it has to be said that you and the Internet have been responsible for bringing together hundreds of Ant fans from all corners of the globe over the past 10 or so years. Some have moved to different lands to live with fellow Ant fans, whereas others travel to other countries to meet up at specially organised "Ant Gatherings". This online community has continued to grow, even as far as flying the Ant flag during your low moments and for your more recent return to the spotlight. The Bloomsbury gig sold out within a week based on online "word of mouth" alone. Do you think that it’s possible for an artist to underestimate the power of the digital future age?
I don’t underestimate the power of the digital age at all. Whatever gives people pleasure and makes them feel good is good enough. (I do, however, feel this has to be combined with the traditional arts.)
adam-ant.net is the official Ant website. How is that going to be a part of the next phase of Adam Ant and how do you respond to fans who feel that they’ve been neglected online over the years?
I am very lucky to have Justin and feel he does a very good job.
It’s always been an urban myth that you never had a PC, let alone ever had an interest in the Internet. Whenever a fan would ask "does Adam read this?" The responses were always in the negative. What’s the real story today? Do you use the Internet much? If so what for? Have you ever visited the Ant Rap forum to read what fans are saying about you using a secret ID? Or do you consider them the new digital "press darlings"?
I know a lot more about it than some would think I know. You never know who is watching...
Recent outbreaks of Ant fever have spawned an unprecedented number of Ant cover bands and tribute acts such as Antflavour, Ligotage, Family Of Hindus, Antmuzik, Ants Invasion and Kings Of The Wild Frontier recording and performing live for fans. Not to mention the flood of Ant remixes by the likes of Niall X, Defi, Simon Clarke, Rob Lesman and yours truly (there's a song in there somewhere). How do you feel about these extra insectular activities?
As long as they don’t destroy the original songs i.e. music/lyrics/topline, then it can be interesting.
Obviously you’re aware of classic cover versions of your songs by the likes of The Nine Inch Nails and Dweeb as you performed with them on stage, but what of the new generation of Ant cover versions? For example, "Zerox Machine" by Client and "'Antmusic'" by Hyper to name but two.
As long as they don’t mess around with the basics of the song then that can be OK.
You’ve performed a number of cover versions in your time, "Catch A Falling Star", "Paper Moon", "Wannabe", "Dandy In The Underworld", "War Canoe", "Hello, I Love You", "Softly As I Leave You" and "Shakin' All Over"...the list goes on and on. What other songs would you love to cover and why?
Now that would be telling. . .watch this space
This next question I asked of Dave Pash at the end of his interview, and it seems fitting to ask it here to. What message would you personally give to the online Ant fans who have continued to support you, your music, your imagery and your projects?
I truly appreciate every single Antfan the world over for their support and loyalty over the past thirty years. I can only justify that by giving them the best I can give artistically. To all of them: You are the best!!!
I’d personally like to thank you for your time and agreeing to answer these questions. On behalf of adam-ant.net, cartrouble.nl and Antpeople everywhere, I’d also like to wish you the best of health and the best of luck with your new projects.
Carty would like to thank:
Adam Ant for kindly agreeing to do this, his manager for being Malcolm in the middle, Annet for spell-checking the questions and Justin for co-hosting it and his persistence in making this possible. And last but not least to himself for not asking about where the white stripe came from, or how he got his name, or about the Michael Jackson call, etc., etc..