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ADAM & THE ANTS (MARCO PIRRONI) INTERVIEW [2006]

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT YOUR NEW PROJECT, THE WOLFMEN, AND I HAVE A COPY OF THE WOLFMEN EP 'JACKIE SAYS' BUT IT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE A NEW RECORD AT ALL – IT'S KIND OF A MELTING POT OF ROXY MUSIC, DAVID BOWIE, MAYBE SOME T-REX AND THINGS FROM THAT GLAM ERA…

It's all of those things – and all of those things were Adam And The Ants really – when we started working on the stuff we spent a long time trying to make it sound as old as possible and even going back to kind of a pre-seventies sound, a kind of Motown – not that it actually sounds like Motown – but that was kind of the idea in our head, and we played to a couple of people who are our age and they said 'no no no – you've got to remix it… it sounds too old, it doesn't sound fresh…'

I ACTUALLY THINK IT DOES SOUND FRESH, EXACTLY BECAUSE IT SOUNDS OLD, IT'S THAT WHOLE THING WHERE MUSICAL STYLES LOOP BACK AROUND…

You're right it is that whole loop thing… so these people are in their late-forties and they are doing that kind of 'hey man you've got to be down with the kids' thing and for a few minutes I actually bought in to all that bollocks! But then we started playing it to twenty year-olds and they were saying 'yeah it sounds great, it sounds modern' blah blah blah which just goes to prove that you should never, never try to be down with the kids!

THE PICTURE THAT I CONJURE UP IN MY HEAD WHEN I LISTEN TO THE WOLFMEN IS A KIND OF TEDDYBOY IMAGE – NOT THE CARTOON TEDDYBOY LIKE SHOWADDYWADDY OR SOMETHING, BUT SOMETHING DANGEROUS AND A BIT SINISTER… VIOLENCE IN DARK ALLEYWAYS, THAT SORT OF THING!

It's funny… I don't know if all this stuff, all the things you're talking about, is deliberate but it's definitely the kind of things that I like. I always really liked Teddyboys when I was growing up as a teenager, even though I grew up as a teenager in the seventies and there weren't really many teddy boys around… and then that's what attracted me to to the SEX shop and the whole punk thing.

DO YOU THINK THAT PUNK WAS KIND OF BORN OUT OF THAT WHOLE SITUATION…

For me, yeah definitely… punk kind of came from all that, it kind of mutated from there – funnily enough it did come out of that whole Showaddywaddy, mutated, seventies-view of teddy boys with Wizzard and that sort of thing.

WHEN I LISTEN TO THE WOLFMEN MATERIAL, AND I MENTIONED A FEW OF THINGS IT REMINDS ME OF, I CAN'T REALLY FIND ANY CONTEMPORARY INFLUENCES ON THERE. DO YOU HAVE ANY OR IS IT A CASE OF LOOKING BACK FOR INSPIRATION?

Um… yeah I do… I'm trying to think of what they are really. Yes I do, but much like you and your website I look back and have a particular period, a particular year even – I think it was 1972 – and all the music from that year and from that time is the music I love the most, and it's the music that I just can't find anything to match it today, things like 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'Transformer'… that's not to say that I live in any sort of seventies timewarp or anything because I definitely don't, but those are my formative times, my formative albums…

The Wolfmen is just what I feel like doing at the moment – I'm not trying to make a retro-seventies record or anything like that but I'm making records the way I want them, I'm making records that sound the way I want… I'm trying to make records that sound like records I liked which is the same as I tried to do with Adam And The Ants…

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOTIVATION BEHIND THE PROJECT? IS IT PURELY FOR THE MUSIC, FOR FUN, FOR COMMERCIAL GAIN, A COMBINATION OF THOSE?

Well obviously it's for all those things. That's the whole point of doing it, I can't do anything else… but it's not purely for the music, it has to exist in the real world and the music business is very much the real world and it always has been, it has always operated on profit or loss blah blah…

SO GIVEN THAT, IS IT IMPORTANT THAT THE WOLFMEN TURNS INTO A SUCCESSFUL 'BUSINESS'?

Yeah. I don't make music purely for my own pleasure… it's just too much bloody work to make a record just for fun, people have to hear it and like it and I have to get something back from it even if it is only 'you're great'… or not!

I suppose the idea behind doing anything is so that people can say 'you're great' AND you make a few bob out of it. I wouldn't do it purely for my own pleasure, I'd watch TV or something…

IS THERE MORE OF 'YOU' IN THE WOLFMEN THAN IN SOME OF THE PROJECTS YOU'VE DONE IN THE PAST?

Um… well everything I do has got me in it!

I SUPPOSE WHAT I'M ASKING IS… IN ADAM AND THE ANTS YOU WERE PART OF A BAND AND YOU HAD AN EXTREMELY STRONG FRONTMAN, AND YOU DID A LOT OF WORK WITH SINEAD O'CONNOR AND AGAIN SHE'S AN EXTREMELY STONG FRONT PERSON, WHEREAS THIS PUTS YOU MUCH MORE IN FOCUS…

I don't think that this has got more me in it than anything else… this is probably a bit more egocentric in that Chris isn't someone who will dictate many things, but no this hasn't got more of me in it than anything else although I can see how that might be the perception from the outside.

HOW LONG HAS THE WHOLE WOLFMEN PROJECT BEEN IN THE WORKS?

We've actually only been seriously working on it for about a year… I suppose it's only really been about eighteen months…

WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION BEHIND THE PROJECT?

The motivation behind doing it was that I started a record label with two other people and they said 'you should make an album, you have to make an album' and I thought 'I can't… I can't sing…' but I said I would, and my idea was to create this sort of fictitious group called The Wolfmen which would be a kind of complete conceit, a kind of sixties garage, punk, glam-rock band, but then after I got back with Chris and we started working on it those ideas kind of fell by the wayside. We couldn't be bothered to dress it up in some sort of image and pretense… I'm too old for all that, it's a lot of work you know, keeping a pretense up and I don't have the time and I don't have the enthusiasm to keep the pretense going.

Really it comes down to this is what we do, this is what we want to do, this is it – you either like it or you don't and if you don't like it then what do you want me to do about it? And I've got to say that apart from a few old twats going 'hey you've got to be down with the kids' it has been very positively received.

I HAVE A CD COPY OF THE EP HERE, BUT IN ACTUAL FACT IT'S NOT COMING OUT ON CD IS IT?

No… it's just one of those real world things that we have to deal with, CDs just don't sell singles, vinyl and download does sell but CD just doesn't… so it's on 10″ vinyl and download.

WHAT IS GOING TO BE NEXT IN THE WOLFMEN STORY, IS THERE GOING TO BE AN ALBUM?

There's almost enough material now I think for an album, so I think we're going to start on that in October, but this EP – the reason we did an EP was as a sort of taster, to get the name out there, to get the whole project out there… we're not expecting it to race up that charts – not that you have to sell very many these days to go up the charts – but we're thinking of putting out a single in January or February and then an album in April.

AND ANY PLANS TO TOUR?

I will stay schtum about that! I've been told I'm not allowed to speak about that…

YOU'RE NOT KEEN ON TOURING ARE YOU?

I hate it! I mean I haven't been onstage for about ten years and there's not been one day in that ten years when I've actually missed it or thought about it…

WOULD TOURING NOW BE A HURDLE FOR YOU?

It would be a massive hurdle.

AND IF YOU DID IT ONCE DO YOU THINK IT MIGHT ACTUALLY BE EASIER AFTER THAT?

No. There's this strange perception – also by those old people – that 'hey man it has to be a live-band touring thing to be real'… but it is real… we're not making it up!

But these ideas sort of propagate and they become the law – to be seen as real you have to pretend to be four blokes with guitars. I don't think people really give a shit about how many people are in the band or how it was recorded or whether they can play, if they like it they'll just go and buy it!

ONCE THE ALBUM IS RECORDED AND OUT WILL THE WOLFMEN CONTINUE OR IS IT A KIND OF TEMPORARY PROJECT FOR YOU?

We'll see where it takes us… if nobody buys the album then obviously it's not cost effective and no-one is going to want to put out another one. I would like it to be a long-term project and there's no reason why it shouldn't be.

LAST TIME WE SPOKE YOU WERE WORKING HARD ON AN ADAM AND THE ANTS DVD CALLED 'DIGITAL TENDERNESS' WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE VANISHED FROM THE RELEASE SCHEDULES…

That keeps vanishing and reappearing and vanishing again, but apparently, I'm told, that is now scheduled for a release in late September or October. It's now being held up because there's going to be an Adam And The Ants documentary and the documentary is going to be included on the DVD…

WHEN ADAM'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY COMES OUT IN SEPTEMBER THERE'S OBVIOUSLY GOING TO BE A WHOLE LOAD OF ATTENTION BACK ON THE ANTS, AND I'M SURE LOTS OF PEOPLE WILL WANT TO INTERVIEW YOU ABOUT IT ALL AND TALK ABOUT IT AND REVISIT IT… HOW DOES THE PROSPECT OF THAT ATTENTION FEEL?

Yeah, it's weird… there was a period when I really didn't want to talk about it, not that I was ever ashamed or embarrassed about it, but I just didn't want to talk about it, I was just bored of talking about it. There's this weird thing now, as I get older, that it doesn't seem to be that long ago… I don't know, everything seems to co-exist in one timeframe. But no it doesn't fill me with dread, it's fine.

WITH ALL THE PROBLEMS ADAM HAS HAD YOU HAVE BECOME THE MOUTHPIECE FOR THE BAND IN RECENT YEARS, WILL THAT HAPPEN AGAIN AROUND ALL THIS NEW ACTIVITY?

No, I can't talk about Adam's autobiography! He is going to do some promotion for it but I don't know exactly what… I have seen schedules for it but how definite anything is I don't know.

SO IS ADAM DOING ALRIGHT AT THE MOMENT?

Yeah, I think he's doing OK… I hope so!

RIGHT NOW YOU'RE ON THE CUSP OF THIS WHOLE NEW PROJECT, YOU'RE DOING ALL THE PROMOTIONAL THINGS LIKE THIS INTERVIEW, AND THERE MUST BE AN ELEMENT OF SHAKING THE HANDS AND KISSING THE BABIES… ARE YOU COMFORTABLE DOING ALL THAT?

Yeah but I've done it before! It may seem to people that I've disappeared but I haven't – I've been working on various things but I have always been more comfortable working behind the scenes. Funnily enough the kissing the babies and shaking people's hands I have always done and I've never stopped doing, it's just part of what I do, it's part of the business… but it's fine, I'm very comfortable with it.

DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO PROVE AS A MUSICIAN?

Ummm… no… I don't think I had anything to prove in the first place…

AUGUST 2006

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