Eighties pop icon is up and Adam again...

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IN an era that so favours its labels Adam Ant has been firmly acquainted with two: icon and troubled.

IN an era that so favours its labels Adam Ant has been firmly acquainted with two: icon and troubled.

Adam Ant

Adam Ant

His career has seen him set light to the world’s charts and someone set light to his equipment. He has sparked fashion debates and flitted from hero to villain and back, all the while re-inventing himself to confound those who like to wrap pop music into neat bundles.

“It’s creating an illusion of reality,” he says from beneath a large hat that cannot disguise the distinctive cheek bones that have allowed him to defy his 56 years.

“If you’re going to see a band singing about unemployment, go and do that. I’m into escapist entertainment with a historical flavour but there’s a punk edge to it.

“I’ve had people burn the PA down, hit me with baseball bats, try and shoot me – I come from a very tough background.”

Not surprising, perhaps, that ahead of his tour Adam – real name Stuart Goddard – has been training with former ring champ and fellow maverick Chris Eubank “to defend myself”.

“I want to keep fit and he’s a scientific boxer. Boxers are heroic, from the street and they build their way up.

“In a way, rock ‘n’ roll, the way I do it, is pretty similar.

“I’ve left my cartilage in Cleveland.

“You just feel grateful to be standing up really. It’s like a footballer who lives to play football, I sing songs and write them.

“To me, on stage is the most relaxing, serene place, in a weird sense. It’s like a physical effort, like a boxing ring. That’s where you get it all out of yourself. It’s a very cleansing experience and physically challenging.”

In recent years, however, it has been Adam’s mental health that has been debated. In a life occasionally blighted by illness it was a 2002 incident in which he threatened drinkers with a replica pistol outside a London pub that brought most headlines.

While Adam’s quiet demeanour now is sometimes unsettling, he claims injustice when asked about an incident that almost claimed his liberty.

“When you’ve had a gun pointed at your head, which I’ve had on a few occasions, that’s punk rock. I ain’t scared of no-one. The thing that keeps you there is a kind of craziness because you’ve got to be mad.

“It doesn’t change what I’m doing, it’s my territory. I walk across that line and it’s like a boxing ring, you can lose your life.

“When I made it big after three years of playing toilets, when I made it they told me I’d sold out. I didn’t sell out.I just made a success of my work.

“And I’m lucky to make a living out of my work. I’ve done jobs to earn money to buy guitars but I’m a songwriter and that gives me most gratification.

“I get pleasure out of putting a project together visually. I prefer it to be nice and people sit like I do when I go to see a play.”

Mr Ant stands and delivers a few new wild frontiers

ADAM Ant was once offered a seven figure sum to return to the look that accompanied his biggest chart success.

Although his show on Tuesday will incorporate the likes of Stand And Deliver and Goody Two Shoes, there will be no costume or that famous white strip.

“That’s all dead and buried, it’s 30 years now. I was offered a million pounds to wear that and I said no when I needed it. If I wanted to do it I’d do it.

“This is the first time I’ve gone on stage without presenting an image. I will be with Blue Black Hussar, but that’s in development.”

Last year he completed a “world tour of London” in small venues, some apparently ending up quite feisty.

Among the surviving line-up is guitarist Chris McCormack, formerly of 3 Colours Red, and backing singers Twinkle and Georgie Girl, all performing under the name Adam Ant & The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse. It’s a muscular-sounding band playing the older songs with more aggression.

“It’s going to be the catalogue,” he says. “Let people hear that stuff, plus some covers that I like, and then probably one or two tracks off the new album.

“We’ll be playing people what they want to hear plus a few surprises.

“It’s a different line-up. This is nitty gritty, everything is live, no messing about, no sampling, no cheating. I don’t do karaoke. If it’s out of tune, good. If I fall over, good.”

Adam Ant Is The Blue Black Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter, is the unwieldy title of the Boz Boorer, Ant and McCormack co-written album due in 2012 “coz I wanted to see if it would fit down the side of a record sleeve”.

Adam explains the Hussar is a new character that started in 1980 with a stripe across his nose.

“He’s been to Moscow. He’s come back, he’s dead and he’s like the terminator. He’s now older, wiser and angrier and marrying the gunner’s daughter, a naval term for getting a beating. I was with a major record label for a long time so I know about that.

“The Hussar’s lost his innocence but not his sensitivity. He’s delicate but he’s strong. He knows how to fight. All he knows is war because business is war and certainly being involved in the business I was at war. You have to fight to hang on to any form of artistic integrity otherwise you are just a can of beans.”

Certainly Ant’s filmic imagination seems to be thriving so long after his previous album Persuasion for MCA failed to see the light of day.

“They had a clean-out/shoot out and their new A&R person didn’t think it was valid but I’ve got the rights back to that,” he says.

“That’s the worst thing you can do to an artist, take away their work.

“Gladly the dinosaurs that used to run it are either dead or monks trying to compensate for a life of evil.

“I’ve decided to form my own company. I’ve never had ambitions to have a record company but now I’m doing it as a platform for my album. I’m going to lose money but I don’t care.

“It’ll be 18 songs, double-gatefold sleeve vinyl, cassette, CD, I’m not doing downloads. I don’t like it.

“I buy CDs, I enjoy CDs, I want to see the lyrics and a photograph. I don’t buy into this mentality of downloading a fictional image with no artwork. Also you don’t get paid very much and kids can download it for free and everyone knows it.

“The internet is killing the songwriter. You can only make money out of two things, live and merchandising. Or get a song in Shrek 3 (Prince Charming), but 30 years is a long time to wait for that to generate income.”