Ahead of his two-night residency at Under The Bridge we caught up with the legendary Adam Ant and posed a few questions. So here are his views on the west London music scene, his new live set and why he aims to be a landscape gardener…
Under the Bridge: What do you remember about your first ever London gig?
Adam Ant: My first ever gig in London was at the ICA in 1977. I phoned them up and told them we were a country and western band. It was at lunchtime and I think they started to wonder when I turned up dressed in full leather with a gimp mask. We ended up playing round the back instead courtesy of [comedian/musician] John Dowie, who was also playing there.
London audiences are the real audiences. They’re cosmopolitan. If you make it London you make it in New York, anywhere.
UTB: On a previous visit to Under the Bridge you mentioned you used to stand on the Chelsea terraces…
AA: Well I was a Chelsea supporter as a kid in the ‘golden age’. I used to watch Charlie Cooke, Alan Hudson, Bonetti, Chopper Harris. Alan Hudson looked like a rock star. George Best was the best I ever saw though. I had dinner with him once. It was sad to see what became of him; he should’ve been given a lifetime bursary for being a genius.
For me, it ended with him unfortunately. When the crowd started taking knives and bricks and stuff I stopped going.
UTB: West London has had some great venues over the decades…
AA: I used to like the Nashville [on North End Road, now the Famous Three Kings], and played there. I lived in Earl’s Court and used to rehearse on Lots Road. For me though, it was mostly about the King’s Road and Malcolm McLaren’s shop. I would go there to see Jordan – she was my manager – buy clothes, put a band together.
The Man In The Moon [on King’s Road], that was my proper debut. Three people turned up: Jordan, Siouxsie Sioux and Steve [Severin] out of the Banshees. The other two left, but at least Jordan stayed…
UTB: What can people expect from the new line-up – more ‘Dirk’ or ‘Dandy Highwayman’?
AA: I’m playing the whole repertoire, starting from the early days: a lot of ‘Dirk’, which I play on guitar. A lot of those songs were b-sides of the commercial stuff anyway, so people will know them. I love those songs.
I’m hoping that if you come to ten shows you’ll hear ten different set lists. People like the hits – as I do – but you can surprise them with a few others.
UTB: Tell us something about yourself that we don’t already know.
AA: If I could live my life over I’d be a ballet dancer. [Mikhail] Baryshnikov knocked off every ballet dancer he ever worked. I’m also a big fan of Michael Clark’s work.
There are a lot of gardeners and master craftsmen in my family going back. I envy them, I think they’re great jobs, especially gardening. One day I will have a proper Capability Brown-type job.
UTB: As a UK music great we have a photo of you on the walls Under The Bridge – any favourite artists you’d recommend we include?
AA: I’d like to see Vince Taylor up there. He’s a real hardcore rocker and I know he played in the UK [despite emigrating to the USA]. Also Tommy Steele: I didn’t see him up on the walls.
The old Sixties people: Mike Sarne, Dave Berry… I like them. They don’t get enough credit.