FORMERLY REMEMBER THE EIGHTIES.COM
ADAM & THE ANTS (MARCO PIRRONI) INTERVIEW [2005]

FOR ME, GROWING UP IN THE EIGHTIES, ADAM & THE ANTS WERE A COMPLETE PHENOMENON – WHEN 'KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER' WAS RELEASED THERE WAS SIMPLY NOTHING TO TOUCH IT – THE MUSIC AND THE IMAGERY AND THE WHOLE PACKAGE WAS JUST SO NEW AND FRESH AND EXCITING… FROM YOUR VIEWPOINT INSIDE THE BAND WERE YOU AWARE OF ANY OF THE IMPACT YOU WERE MAKING?

It's a little like being in the eye of a hurricane. You also begin to live a very isolated life,you tend never to go anywhere on your own, never travel on public transport, hardly ever walk anywhere because 90% of your time is spent working, what free time there is you spend asleep.

YOU'VE OBVIOUSLY BEEN SIFTING THROUGH VAST AMOUNTS OF OLD ANTS MATERIAL FOR THIS NEW SERIES OF REISSUES – WHAT SORT OF EMOTIONS DOES THE PROCESS OF REVISITING THE BAND'S HISTORY STIR UP FOR YOU?

It's certainly not nostalgia, one of the reasons I wanted to do this is to consign Adam & the Ants to history. I'm really proud of what we did and wouldn't change it if I could, but it's nice to gather up all the loose ends and have them in the shops.

HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU BEING THE BAND'S 'CURATOR', AND WERE ANY OF THE OTHER BAND MEMBERS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS OF PUTTING THESE RELEASES TOGETHER?

I wouldn't call myself the band curator, I really have no idea when we did things or where we were on such and such a date, and I had to rely on Andi Vaughn to tell me what he thought people would find interesting and also what it was we were listening to.

IT MUST HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY ODD WORKING ON 'DIRK WEARS WHITE SOX' BECAUSE YOU WEREN'T IN THE BAND WHEN IT WAS MADE WERE YOU? DID THAT MEAN YOU HAD TO BE EXTRA SENSITIVE ABOUT WHAT YOU CHOSE AND WHAT YOU CHANGED?

It was easier in a way because I could try and preserve what I liked about Dirk which is the 'dark' feeling of it but also try to eliminate the amateurish bits whilst still keeping the raw edges.

ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE THINGS ABOUT THESE REISSUES IS THE WEALTH OF ARCHIVE MATERIAL THAT YOU'RE PRESENTING FOR THE FIRST TIME – ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO CAN REMEMBER ALL THOSE OLD SESSIONS AND DEMOS AND OUT-TAKES, OR WAS IT A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY – OR REDISCOVERY – FOR YOU?

It was a total journey of rediscovery, there was stuff I cannot remember recording or even having heard before, I wasn't expecting senility to creep up on me quite so soon.

GIVEN THAT A LOT OF THE 'NEW' TRACKS HERE ARE DEMO VERSIONS AND NEVER REALLY MADE FOR PUBLIC EARS, WAS THERE A TEMPTATION TO POLISH THEM UP AND MAKE THEM SOUND BETTER, OR ARE THEY PRESENTED JUST AS THEY WERE?

No they were presented the way they were at the time as we did them.

LISTENING BACK TO ALL THIS MATERIAL NOW, ARE THERE ANY FEELINGS OF 'I WISH WE'D DONE THAT DIFFERENTLY' FOR ANY OF THE TRACKS?

Yes of course, but its ultimately useless to keep thinking that. Chris Hughes and I have been talking about doing an album of 'ant revisited' tracks; that is new mixes and updates on old tracks. Not to supercede the old stuff but more of a 'directors cut' type of thing… but that will be down the line sometime.

ANYTHING YOU'D HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY OUTSIDE THE MUSIC?

What? Are you kidding? Of course! Who doesn't want to go back and change the past, but I ain't Captain Kirk so there's no point in giving it much thought!

IS MAKING MORE OF THE ANTS CATALOGUE PUBLIC A COMFORTABLE EXPERIENCE, OR IS IT SLIGHTLY AWKWARD IN THE WAY THAT NO-ONE REALLY LIKES SHOWING ANYONE ELSE THEIR OLD SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPHS!?!

I tried to avoid revisionism, and much as it is against every fibre of my being, I tried to be honest. Honesty is simply relating a series of facts, it's so uncreative and dull.

TALKING OF PHOTOGRAPHS NEATLY (AHEM!) LEADS ME ONTO THE IMAGERY OF THE BAND… WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT?

Adam has to take credit or responsibility for that, depending on your point of view.

I SUPPOSE IT'S EASY TO BE JUDGEMENTAL NOW, BUT THE WHOLE IMAGERY OF ADAM & THE ANTS WAS SO IMPORTANT THERE MUST HAVE INCREDIBLE PRESSURE ON THE BAND TO KEEP REINVENTING YOURSELVES?

I never felt that because as people will tell you, I have this annoying urge to change everything everyday anyway. What was more difficult was going to other countries and having to present what you did 6 months ago as new!

WAS THERE EVER A POINT WHERE THE STYLE OF THE BAND WAS THREATENING TO OVERTAKE THE MUSIC AND SUBSTANCE?

We never let our music get in the way of our image…

I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE'S ALSO AN ADAM & THE ANTS DVD IN THE PIPELINE, 'DIGITAL TENDERNESS', WHICH I'M SURE WILL REFLECT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE IMAGERY IN THE BAND, BUT WILL THAT BE A STRAIGHT VIDEO COLLECTION OR WILL IT INCLUDE MORE FOOTAGE AND ODD BITS AND PIECES FROM THE ARCHIVES IN THE SAME WAY AS THE ALBUM REISSUES?

My original intention was to do something along the lines of The Who's 'Kids Are Alright', but licensing footage has proved to be a nightmare. It will be the videos but with as much other footage as we can obtain.

IS THE DVD SOMETHING YOU'RE INVOLVED WITH AS WELL?

Unfortunately, yes!

TO MY SHAME I'M NOT SURE THAT I ACTUALLY KNOW WHY ADAM & THE ANTS BROKE UP… WHAT HAPPENED?

Adam and I wanted to go back to being musicians instead of running a international corporation.

ARE YOU STILL IN TOUCH WITH ANY OF THE OTHER ANTS? I THINK IT'S FAIRLY WELL KNOWN THAT YOU'RE STILL FRIENDS WITH ADAM, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?

I have been working with Chris Hughes a lot recently and its been great, we just started where we left off 20 years ago like it was the next day. I think we've both grown ever more eccentric in our old age and what reality there was has all but disappeared!

I CAN'T IMAGINE YOU'D EVER DO A DURAN DURAN AND REFORM THE 'CLASSIC' LINE-UP?

We all have our price, but mine is unrealistically inflated –it's unlikely that any promoter could ever meet it.

WAS IT LIBERATING FOR YOU AND ADAM TO BE ABLE TO WORK OUTSIDE THE GROUP WHEN YOU STARTED WORKING ON ADAM'S SOLO MATERIAL?

Absolutely, I think we made clear to our management and label that we would no longer be attending meetings about international marketing stratagy, tax planning or offshore investments because if we were not left alone to make our music then there would be nothing for anyone to talk about.

I BELIEVE YOU'RE INVOLVED IN A PROJECT CALLED THE WOLFMEN – WHAT'S THAT ABOUT?

The Wolfmen are Chris DeNiro, Chris Hughes and myself; it's where The Velvet Underground, T-Rex, Adam & The Ants and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas are plundered to make retro rock and roll for the 23rd century.

ANYTHING ELSE INTERESTING ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU?

Mark Alleyne and myself are working on a 4-disc boxset cataloguing the history of Adam & The Ants up until the point I joined and ruined it all. Aside from that I'd like a week off very soon!

I'VE GOT TO ASK, BUT OBVIOUSLY YOU DON'T HAVE TO ANSWER, HOW'S ADAM?

Keeping a low profile and getting better.

AFTER GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS OF WORKING ON THESE SIX REISSUES – AND THE EXTRA CD THAT'S PART OF THE BOXSET – ARE YOU ABLE TO SAY THAT YOU'RE PROUD OF EVERYTHING THE BAND ACHIEVED?

We were almost exactly the band I had imagined being in whilst daydreaming during maths lessons at school; Roxy Music and the Glitter Band do soundtracks to spagetti westerns. It was as unlikely an idea in 1973 as it was in 1981 and I'm still amazed we got away with it!

MAY 2005

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