Lessons from the Wild Frontier

As Pop's Prince Charming, Adam Ant ruled the '80s. Here's his lessons from the Wild Frontier.

A lot of people change their names. It gives you a chance to draw a line under your growing up and then you decide you wanna live for yourself and you wanna do the things you wanna do. You more or less do a whole change - look at Joe Strummer and people like that. It was very indicative of the attitude and the kind of music you were playing. So, for me, it was a kind of necessity. It was a new start, and that was what I wanted.

When we signed our first deal, we didn’t have a lawyer, didn’t have an accountant, didn’t have anybody. Don’t fucking sign anything. Even however much you want to get a record out, however much frustration, DO NOT sign it until somebody who knows a bit about business will look at it. If someone’s offering you a record deal, then they obviously think you’re gonna make money. So at that point, it’s actually absolutely paramount that there’s a step back and somebody sits you all down and says, ‘Look, every pound you’re earning on this thing, you are gonna get that much’ - with me it was nine pence - and it does actually make a difference. Even if your dad’s in business, or the drummer’s uncle has a company of any sort, just show it to someone that knows a little bit about figures. That’s the biggest mistake I made. And you’re stuck with it.

When Boy George came along, I thought, ‘Oh, get the fuck out.’ That’s when I left and went to America. It’s like a sportsman preparing for that run, and you’re always winning, but it doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re giving it your best shot and some fucker will come along and, BANG! And it’s a lesson. When I did ‘Vive Le Rock’, for instance, guitars were not in fashion, but that was deliberate; I knew it, but I thought, ‘Ah, doesn’t matter. I’m gonna do it anyway.’ And you pay the price, because people just aren’t into that sound.

If you’re asked for an autograph then you either sign it or you don’t sign it. If everybody knows you don’t sign autographs, then they know it’s just gonna be a ‘Hello’. I met Marc Bolan at a time in my life when I was very impressionable; I was seventeen or eighteen. He looked great, he was charming, and I thought, ‘Fuck! Great!’ It was really a lesson. I never dreamt that one day I would be in that position. So I have a responsibility to that person who may just be the same as I was.

No-one does what I do out there, and I don’t do what anybody else does out there, and I don’t want to, so whatever I do would stand out in its own kind of attitude and its own presentation. And if you’ve got that, it’s just a question of hanging in there. You cannot beat word of mouth; ‘Go and see them, they’re really great, I saw them’. It’s the ultimate thing to have, because it’s not hype. You can take as many adverts out as you like, but it’s seeing you live, feeling it live, being with the crowd there, and it’s an amazing thing. It’s kind of the last bastion of real entertainment, real escapism, and people need it worse now than ever before.

Make sure you’ve got your ideas straight in the songs. Make sure you know what you wanna say, and then once you have made your mind up, stick to it. Don’t be afraid to say no, and take your time: there’s no rush for this. It’s gonna take a lot of time, and it is gonna be up and down... But I’d say it’s ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration, that’s the one.

The single ‘Cool Zombie’ will be released on Blueblack Hussar Records on November 19th. The album follows in January 2012.

Interview: Simon Harper


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