If you haven’t released an album in 17 years you might as well go big with the title.
So the always fanciful Adam Ant, he of the “Goody Two Shoes” and the ability to “Stand and Deliver,” returned earlier this year with “Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter.”
The album, much of it written with old pal and Morrissey collaborator Boz Boorer, offers up everything the quirky rocker is known for, including layered guitars and inventive vocals, urgent percussion, and a stew of influences from punk to R&B. And it takes some turns that are new, including down a country road. The man born Stuart Goddard hopes it takes listeners on a journey since it recounts something of his own in the time that he’s been away.
Adam Ant, Prima Donna
The path has been twisty with joyful parts — as Ant took time out to raise his daughter — and more difficult ones as he struggled with mental health issues. (Ant has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which he discussed in his 2007 memoir.) We recently caught up with Ant, who plays Royale on Monday, by phone from London.
Q. Was winning the Icon Award from Q magazine in 2008 pivotal in your return to music?
A. Yeah. [It’s] quite a prestigious thing and there was a reception there and it was a lovely dedication. It really made me feel like my work has been remembered. That did help and it certainly made me feel like “you better get back on your bike and get on with it.”
Q. And was it that simple? I’m guessing working with Boz helped?
A. Yeah. It was literally sitting down with a couple of guitars. The good thing about this experience and coming back into an industry that’s completely changed so much . . . is my attitude has not changed one iota in terms of making the record. Quite the reverse really, it’s gone back to the roots even more so. So it wasn’t something I had a second thought about. It was pretty easy. The main challenge was getting back on the road. It was a very conscious decision to tour before I brought the record out. I did two years of touring because I wanted to see if there was an audience. And I’m glad I did that because really that’s where the focus has gone with the industry. If you can’t play live you’ve had it.
Q. The response at Royale last October was very warm.
A. Yeah it was lovely to get that kind of response. When you’ve had 17 years between tours you don’t really take anything for granted, so it was just nice that people made the effort to come out and be that supportive.
Q. Speaking of going back to your roots, many fans had no idea that you lived for a few years in Tennessee, which was the inspiration for the first single “Cool Zombie,” which has a bluesy-country feel.
A. I’ve found the interest in that is quite overwhelming really. It’d almost be like an American living in the Lake District [in England] for two years. I was getting married at the time — I’m divorced now — but the idea was very romantic, to drive from Miami up to Vegas and get married in the Elvis chapel. We took a nice scenic route and stopped off in this little tiny town in Tennessee. I always read the local paper when I have a cup of coffee in a roadside cafe. And I saw this ad for a wooden A-frame overlooking the Vale of Tennessee. I went up and had a look at it and it was just so stunningly beautiful and remote and something went ping: “If we don’t do this now it’s never going to happen.” So we ended up buying it and living there for 2½ years. It was a marvelous insight into a part of America that I’ve only seen in movies. And people left me alone there. They had no idea I was a singer. I bought a pickup truck with a V-8 engine off of some guy. It was exactly as the song says, really. And I noticed in these small theaters you’d have Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, these massive country stars, coming back and playing the places from their roots. So that impressed me as well. And then there was driving down a lane behind an Amish [buggy]. (Laughs.)
Q. You did several films, television shows, and stage plays in your earlier career. Will you be dipping your toe back into acting at all now that you’re back to work?
A. What’s happening now is I’m developing a script around the book I wrote, “Stand and Deliver.” But as far as the acting’s concerned, I’ve still got my SAG card and if something had a good story and it didn’t take up too much time, I’d think about it, but I can’t see that happening for at least 18 months. I’m really looking forward to the next album and getting on with that.
Q. I’m guessing you’ve heard the No Doubt cover of “Stand and Deliver” with Katy Perry?
A. Yeah, having Gwen Stefani and Katy Perry singing your song live is quite cool. I quite like that. If I could pick two people to sing my songs I think it would be them two. (Laughs.)
Interview has been edited and condensed. Sarah Rodman can be reached at email@example.com.