Stuart Goddard, aka Adam Ant, performs live on stage during the third day of the 'Hard Rock Calling' music festival at Hyde Park on June 26, 2011 in central London. (Photo Courtesy: USA Today)
Wild nobility returns to power: Adam Ant hasn't performed in the United States since 1995. But the British singer of such '80s new-wave hits as Stand and Deliver and Goody Two Shoes will launch a new Antmusic invasion of the USA's shores this week. The Blueback Hussar tour begins Thursday in Los Angeles (at the Mayan Theatre) and continues for 21 more dates, through Oct. 20. "I've been working for about the last 18 months, putting a band together and recording a new album," says Ant, 57. "So, you know, it's time to get back in the spirits, as it were, and get out there and play."
Try another flavor: With his group Adam & the Ants and then as a solo act, Ant always has displayed a fondness for mixing styles, like Burundi drum rhythms and spaghetti-Western guitars for early hits Kings of the Wild Frontier and Dog Eat Dog or with jump-band swing for Goody Two Shoes. "I'm interested in mixing what would seem to be conflicting or quite contrasting musical sounds and seeing what happens," he says. "Occasionally, they actually work. I've still got the same approach. I don't do literal music, I do music that is a bit of hybrid anyway."
Heavily armed: Before forming Adam & the Ants and while he still went by his birth name of Stuart Goddard, Ant played in a pub-rock band called Bazooka Joe. That group's big claim to fame came from headlining the Sex Pistols' first gig, a November 1975 show at the Saint Martins School of Art in London. "Seeing the band that night really did make an impression on me, and that was to leave Bazooka Joe that night," he says. "That was what the Sex Pistols did for a few people in London. Virtually everybody that saw them, if they were into music, went off and formed their own band. Most of the punk bands came out of that. To me, it was a catalyst."
Following fashion: Just as the Sex Pistols inspired Ant, Ant inspired Michael Jackson, who called one morning in the early '80s to ask how he got the drum tom-tom sound on Kings of the Wild Frontier. "I thought it was my drummer messing about, but eventually Quincy Jones got on the phone," he says. Ant sent the pair to one of his band's two drummers, Chris Hughes, who went on to produce Tears for Fears and Robert Plant.
But Ant and Jackson stayed in touch, and Jackson asked where Ant had his signature military jackets made. "I gave him the name of the company where I'd found mine, at (costumer) Bermans & Nathans. Sure enough, he went down there about a year later and got one. I think he had others made from that." The relationship between the two singers also led to Ant's performance of The Supremes' hit Where Did Our Love Go? on the 1983 Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special.
Return to the wild frontier: Ant continues to favor a two-drummer sound with his current band, The Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse. The new tour's set list will include Cool Zombie, the first single from Ant's cinematically titled forthcoming album, Adam Ant is the Blueback Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter, which he looks to release independently in the coming months.
"Really, I wondered what the Kings of the Wild Frontier persona would look like 30 years later, if he was a French hussar who had gone to Russia with Napoleon," he says. "A lot of them had to walk back. I felt it'd be interesting to see what that person would be after the ups and downs."
Ready to stand and deliver: When Ant decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to return to the stage, he started by stripping down his old songs and relearning them in an acoustic setting. From there, he went to playing for radio stations and friends, then contacted old haunts like London's 100 Club and Madame JoJo's so he could get the feel of live performing again. "I took it from there up to the next level, and that's what I'm still doing," he says. "More than ever, the future of the music industry is a bit like the Wild West. But one thing we do know: People now have to play live. I happen to enjoy playing live."