Adam Ant: The ’80s icon is back
Back in the ’80s, Adam Ant was one of the first post-punk, new wave artists to hit mainstream, both with his band, Adam and the Ants, and as a solo artist. His songs were a regular fixture on MTV, with his coy, tongue-in-cheek videos for hits such as “Goody Two Shoes,” “Desperate But Not Serious,” “Stand and Deliver” and “Antmusic.”
This summer, the singer is touring with the Anthems-The Singles show, playing some of his most popular singles, both classics and deep cuts. Keith Loria caught up with him to discuss Ant’s July 22 concert in Ridgefield.
Keith Loria: You’ll be playing what you’re dubbing a “singles tour.” Why did you decide to go this route with this tour?
Adam Ant: I noticed over years of performing, you do the hits and you get a great reaction most of the time, but some of the flip sides got as much reaction as the A-sides. I decided to put them together and celebrate the B-sides and throw in a few little surprises in there as well. I’ll even be doing a few songs I haven’t performed live.
KL: I’m sure a lot of devoted fans will enjoy hearing those tunes they haven’t heard live before. How is it from your perspective, playing something “new” in a live setting — especially the older songs from your catalogue?
AA: It’s a learning curve for me. I never take anything for granted and we rehearse quite fiercely before any tour. Even the hits, that you know like the back of your hand, you keep working because you may find something fresh in there. With some of these songs I hadn’t played live before, it’s like a whole new experience for me and it’s like going back to boot camp.
KL: How did you decide which of these B-sides to include?
AA: It all started in the rehearsal process, looking at a lot of songs, and we went out and fine-tuned it and switched some of the songs around each night to make it interesting. Once we got it to a point where it flowed quite well, we knew what the right fit was for the show.
KL: Did you think that you would be doing this almost 40 years later?
AA: Honestly, my ambition at the time was just to have a band, play live and make a record. It didn’t go far beyond that. It was an adventure and we weren’t thinking about the money or the glory. The important thing was to get the work recorded and play it. It was a glorious innocence at the time and you never get those days again. I really appreciate those now looking back.
KL: Once the fame came, and you become something of a household name among the MTV generation, things must have changed for you. What happened when those days started to fade a little?
AA: When you start to enter into the hits situation, you must deal with the pressures and being a public person as opposed to being just a guy who goes out and plays with his mates. When Adam and the Ants split up and I went solo, I knew I had to continue. I took a break in the mid-’80s and did some acting, wrote a book and had a family, so I got out of it, and that allowed me to come back to it refreshed and start almost from scratch. Fortunately, the passion for it is still there.
KL: Any chance we get some new music from you soon or perhaps a live recording based on this tour?
AA: I haven’t gotten into the live recording arena before so you never know. I think if you get into recording sometimes, it gets into the way of the performance and show. But we’ll have to wait and see.
KL: “Goody Two Shoes” is one of your most popular songs and I understand it’s an autobiographical song. Tell me about that.
AA: I was asked in interviews a lot about my private life and the fact that I didn’t drink or smoke or take any drugs was something that surprised a lot of the people at the time. They didn’t think it was the norm for someone in rock ’n’ roll to be like. So in response to that, I decided to write a little song and leave a little bit of mystery in “what do you do?” It was a tongue and cheek response.
KL: What goes into formulating a song for you? Are they all autobiographical like that one?
AA: I think an album is a good opportunity to tell a story about something. It’s based on experience but a lot of it is fantasy as well. I may take an issue and put it into a song. Some of it is a reflection of something that is interesting to me or personal or something from history. It’s all a great process.