It's been 17 years since Adam Ant last toured North America. So the 80s icon feels a sense of purpose as he brings his current band The Good, The Mad and The Lovely Posse on the road here.
"This tour is to reacquaint myself with the audience there, really," explains Ant (real name Stuart Goddard), 57, best known for New Wave hits such as "Stand and Deliver," "Prince Charming" and "Ant Rap" with his first band, the Ants, and for his solo singles "Strip" and "Room at the Top" -- not to mention a trend-setting fashion sensibility as art of the post-punk New Romantic movement. He also appeared in a number of TV shows, as well as films such as "Love Bites," "Nomads" and "Slam Dance."
So where did Ant go after 1995's "Wonderful," which yielded a Top 10 hit in the title track?
"I really had been working solidly from about 1997 to '95 without much of a break from album to tour, album to tour," he says. "I kind of needed the break. I think it was a long time. coming. But I missed (music), and it's good to be doing it again."
The interim was certainly eventful for Ant, who did some recording -- including a cover of Neil Diamond's "America" as a benefit for New York City firefighters after 911 -- married for a second time and published an autobiography, "Stand & Deliver," in 2006. He also struggled with mental illness and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which led to a brief hospitalization in 2003. He's now a mental health activist working with a British organization called SANE.
"Obviously it's been a bit of a rocky road," Ant acknowledges. "I think sometimes you do need something sort of drastic to stop you in your tracks and say, 'Hey, you're working too hard. You've got to take stock of your life.' You think you're invincible and...the demands on yourself are quite huge. I never took holidays, never took a break; that was, I think, key to certainly a large degree of my problem.
"Fortunately there's a good set of doctors in Great Britain, and I listen very carefully to what they say. When you get into mental illness, it's so very complicated. People understand drug addiction or alcoholism in my profession, because it's so common. But the taboo surrounding mental health in general is global because...there's so much we don't understand. We will one day, but right now we don't. It's a big learning curve.
Ant says that these days he has "more appreciation for the fact I can work at something I really love doing," and he's been making up for lost time in recent years. In 2008 he received a Music Icon Award from the British magazine Q, and two years later he started his own record company, Blue Black Hussar Ltd., and returned to live performing. Most importantly he's been working on new music and is mostly finished with "Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter," which he plans to release in 2013.
"It's completely different form anything else I've done before," says Ant, who worked on the 17-song set with longtime aide de camp Marco Pirroni, Morrissey cohort Boz Boorer, Andy Bell of Oasis and Beady Eye, and 3 Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack. Songs include "Who's a Goofy Bunny, Then?," a resurrected early 80s track that pays tribute to Ant's late former manager Malcolm McLaren, as well as "Cool Zombie," "Gun in My Pocket," "Hard Men Tough Blokes," "punkyougirl" and "Shrink."
"It's reflections of what's happened since the last album and the things that interest me," Ant says. "The mood of it, I'd say, is quite personal. I'm very pleased with it lyrically. I never stopped writing lyrics all through the time away. I had plenty of time to choose the songs, and I'm quite content with what I've done on this.
"I'll really just be relieved to have it out there and let the public decide if they're any good."
Adam Ant performs Thursday, October 11, at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 day of show. Call 248-858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.
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