Band talks up At­lanta tour stop and meet­ing Cait­lyn

GA Voice - - FRONT PAGE - By SHAN­NON HAMES

Back in the early 1980s, gen­der-bending Boy Ge­orge and his band mates stormed the New Wave scene with some re­ally big hits and some even big­ger ideas about gen­der, sex­u­al­ity and di­ver­sity. Now, 34 years later, the band is tour­ing the United States (af­ter a 15-year hia­tus) dur­ing a time when our cul­ture seems to have caught up with them.

The Ge­or­gia Voice’s Shan­non Hames caught up with Cul­ture Club bassist Mikey Craig and drum­mer John Moss to speak with them about tour­ing, the changes they’ve seen and their up­com­ing al­bum, “Tribes.”

Ge­or­gia Voice: You guys haven’t toured in the States for 15 years now. Why did you de­cide to tour now?

Craig: I spent some time work­ing on my own record la­bel, but then I started try­ing to get the band back to­gether. I reached out to our old man­ager, Tony Gor­don, who has now been “let go,” shall we say, by (Boy) Ge­orge. But Tony helped to get us back to­gether.

The truth is, we had to wait un­til Ge­orge was in the right frame of mind and in the right space within his own self be­fore we could ac­tu­ally put the whole thing to­gether. Of course, Ge­orge will give you another ver­sion. But the truth is, we all re­ally wanted to get back to­gether. We knew there was a great un­fin­ished story with Cul­ture Club.

When you first came out with “Do You Re­ally Want to Hurt Me” in 1982, I was 13 and very shocked to see not only a racially di­verse band,

but one led by some­one who was re­ally an­drog­y­nous. I re­mem­ber for the first time in my life, I couldn’t tell if the per­son singing was a man or a woman. It was kind of ex­cit­ing, but a bit un­nerv­ing. Now, it seems that my coun­try has fi­nally started to come into a time when we ac­cept di­ver­sity and an­drog­yny and ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity—things you guys were do­ing 33 years ago. How does it feel to fi­nally see us catch­ing up?

Craig: I’ll let you know how Ge­orge feels about it. He wishes that all of the sweep­ing changes that are go­ing on right now had hap­pened 33 years ago so that he could have ben­e­fited from liv­ing in a world with more lib­er­ties and more free­dom—in a world where you’re not con­scious of your sex­u­al­ity or gen­der iden­tity. But noth­ing ever hap­pens be­fore its time, as my dear old dad used to say. I’d like to think that Cul­ture Club paved the way for the Cait­lyn Jen­ners in this world.

Cait­lyn came to one of your shows re­cently, right?

Craig: Yes, she came to our show at the Greek in Los An­ge­les. She in­tro­duced us and when she came out, the crowd just went nuts. They were sur­prised, but then they made the con­nec­tion of the fact that Cait­lyn was pay­ing homage to us and thank­ing us for paving the way for her to go public about who she re­ally is.

From your last U.S. tour 15 years ago un­til now, have you seen changes in your au­di­ence?

Craig: The au­di­ence hasn’t re­ally changed at all ex­cept for the fact that we now have some younger gen­er­a­tion who come out. They’re ob­vi­ously cu­ri­ous to see what all of the fuss is about. The fans on this tour have been re­ally pumped and en­thu­si­as­tic. If they’re read­ing this, I want to thank them for com­ing out and sup­port­ing us like that. It has been ab­so­lutely amaz­ing; it re­ally has, the way they’ve been scream­ing and car­ry­ing on like some type of teen ma­nia.

Your latest al­bum, “Tribes,” is set for an early 2016 re­lease. I heard the sin­gle, “More Than Si­lence” and was re­ally sur­prised how much Ge­orge’s voice has changed, yet still sounds so good. Tell me about the record.

Craig: We recorded it in the Sierra Ne­vada moun­tains of Spain. It was a won­der­ful set­ting. We couldn’t help but make bril­liant mu­sic. It united us as a band again. It al­lowed us to be who we are as a band. Some­times, Ge­orge tries to bring in other writ­ers or we try new tech­nol­ogy and we try this and that. But up in the moun­tains, our pro­ducer just stripped it all away and we got back to ba­sics. It’s how it worked when we were kids and it re­ally worked bril­liantly for us on this record.

Moss: Putting out a new al­bum is re­ally hard but we can’t keep muck­ing out “I’ll Tum­ble 4 Ya” in our 50s. The thing I like about the al­bum is it’s quite fresh. It was recorded well. It was done the old fash­ioned way—just four guys in a room just bash­ing it out. Nowa­days, you’ve got com­put­ers and stuff. This was all played live, no pro­gram­ming or any­thing.

When I want to find out if some­thing is good, I play it for my friends. I don’t tell them that it’s me. Do you know what I mean? I watch them. They tap their feet and some­times they’ll say, “This is re­ally great. Who is it?” Then, I know it’s okay. This is how I knew that this record would be bril­liant.

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