News Column

Adam Ant talks about his evolution ahead of Tulsa concert Tuesday

July 27, 2013


July 27--"Oh, I've played Tulsa before," he said, and laughed. "I'm old."

It was back in the ... he mumbles.

The '70s.

His hits are some of the most influential of the rock genre, or any for that matter. He said he'll include "Goody Two Shoes," "Stand and Deliver," "Prince Charming," "Ant Music," "Strip" and "Wonderful," among others.

"Hopefully you'll hear something you like," he said.

It would be hard not to. There also will be all-new music from his independent release, "Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter." It's his first release of all-new music in 17 years and was inspired by the Englishman's time in Tennessee, he said. There are hints of rockabilly, punk, electronica and pop, with slide guitar and his trademark tribal-influenced drums.

In fact, there are traces of America all over this album. There are folky lyrical effects (think Bob Dylan); rollicking and reverb-heavy, rockabilly-influenced guitar rolls (think Elvis); the heavy blues-soul of poetic L.A. psychedelia (think The Doors). The history of rock 'n' roll runs rich through this record.

But Adam Ant isn't a derivative. This is Adam Ant.

This is the same musician who, back in those early days when he first played Cain's Ballroom in the '70s, launched the early punk-new wave fusion sound -- an early peek at the new romantic movement. In 1980, his "Kings of the Wild Frontier" all but invented punk's prevalent African-Burundi drum style of the era. He also recorded what some call the first grindcore tune "(You're So) Physical." That song was later covered by iconic electro-rocker Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails).

That's a whole lot of influence.

"I've toured every album I've ever made," he said during a phone call from his native Britain. That doesn't mean he's had an American tour -- or come through the historic Cain's Ballroom -- for most of those stops.

But at age 58, it's been a long while since he's come through Green Country.

Once known for theatrics of near-vaudevillian proportions, the sex symbol was at one time far more well-known for his trademark look than for his live show: the "new romantic" blue-black-and-cream French military style, narrow pants and cropped jackets, sophisticated makeup, and frilled shirts.

He still wears a version of it today. Runway designers still rip off that look and make millions from it. That rocker pirate glam look? Yeah, he sort of invented that, too.

Ant designed his own fashion line last year. He is still a fashion hound, he admits, but his tour focus is much more on his own musicianship.

"Everything has come full circle," he said. "It's like it was in the very early days -- it's down to the live show."

Not that the album was created with the live show in mind. A concert is its own, living thing, a "massive, full-on musical attack," something he nourishes, something that takes on its own punk heaviness.

"It's definitely heavier," he admitted. But his fans like it that way. The hip-swaggering, lip-pursing, leather pants-wearing, journalist-chasing "Jailhouse Rock" simulation of "Goody Two Shoes" is there, but in moderation.

Besides, that last '80s reference "was only a video on music television," he said, then chuckled.

But, he quickly added, it's how most people remember him to this day.

He's OK with that. He's really OK with that.

Back to the full circle thing. He was living in the Tennessee Valley hillside in the late '90s, bouncing around in a red '54 pickup and riding motorbikes, painting, walking about in the local community. It was there his daughter, Lily, was conceived.

"This was the first time I lived completely outside anything else I knew." There was no wild club lifestyle, no music circuit, no party scene. "One time I was out driving and I got stuck behind this Amish buggy," he reminisced. There were rodeos, apple festivals, pies. He called it "extraordinary."

It also inspired the entirety of his new album, he said. Released independently on his Blueblack Hussar label, he admits it came after a breakthrough in a public battle with depression -- and the record industry.

The label name, as well as the album title, is "a European thing," he said. It's a spin on his former military-like persona mixed with a lash against the music industry. "Marrying the gunner's daughter" is naval slang for corporal punishment when sailors are tied to a ship's cannon and flogged.

It's a pretty vivid explanation for his feelings about corporate management. "Looking back, I realized I was working for a record company, not with a record company," he said. In the beginning, the partnership was helpful, but these days, it's not worth losing "90 percent of the profit."

He said he credits his comeback -- this pop-culture reemergence -- to his daughter. An early tour of the album in the U.S. and U.K. last year quickly sold out.

This album was also made for his daughter, who he'd realized had never heard new music from him as Adam Ant.



with Prima Donna opening

When: Doors open 7 p.m., showtime 8 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Cain's Ballroom, 423 N. Main St.

Tickets: All-ages. Tickets start at $25, plus fees, available at the box office, by calling 1-877-435-9849 or by visiting or

Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346


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