After skipping Adelaide for nearly 35 years, it’s only fair that we get two visits in the same year from Culture Club to make up for lost time. To keep the love spreading, the group are coming back on their Encore Tour next month and will play a string of shows in select venues to really give an extra ‘up close and personal’ experience. Speaking to Glam Adelaide’s Dazz Hassan via phone hookup, guitarist and songwriter Roy Hay reflected on the band’s legacy, the tour, and how they are getting along these days.
How did it feel to be back on tour together again?
“It was a LOT of fun, we did a few dates the year before and everybody thought it felt fun and more like the start of something rather than the end of something, so we explored it & the tour finally happened. We had such a successful tour in Australia that we were asked to come back. The promoter said ‘well, you started the tour here so why not end it here?’ We thought it was a great idea, so we’re coming back when it’s warmer to play the wineries!”
Any excuse for a tipple, but you may as well see an International act while you’re at it, right?
For anyone who attended the June concert, the crowd were an eclectic mixture of old school fans who caught the band the first time around, to new adoring fans who were likely the kids of the originals. It was a wide range of all ages groups and demographics- such is the reach of Culture Club’s influence on music and fashion
“You know what’s nice is we get a lot of people at meet and greets, and after the show etc. and when you’re younger we didn’t realise the influence we had on people lives who are entertained by you. So, it’s nice to have that moment when we realise the effect we have on society- a moment in time of social significance. And what’s more, the songs have survived, man! They still sound fresh.”
The 80’s were an iconic era, and whilst some fashion choices are looked back upon with a sense of horror, it was a time of discovery for many. Culture Club were the epitome of diversity, they featured Boy George being openly gay and fashionably iconoclast, Jamaican descended Mikey Craig, George’s then lover Jon Moss, and of course the ex-hairdresser with the mega mullet, Roy Hay, who recalls that time with great affection.
“You know what, people really cared back than bout their music and really everybody just wanted to make a statement. It was fashion and music coming together in an interesting way. People were trying to push boundaries and you had a lot of great bands coming out at that time, and a lot of great artists. Unfortunately, we are losing them in great succession lately, so the fact that Culture Club are still around is pretty amazing actually.”
That they have managed to reconcile their differences is testament to the members each developing a greater sense of maturity and respect for each other. The public spats and ego battles between members is well known, but Hay says all this is behind them now.
“It’s a little bit like the family getting together at Christmas with us four, but we’re all enjoying being back together so much. Every now and then things might get a little heated, but apart from that it’s all good. Everybody owns their part in it a bit more now, and they’ll say ‘sorry, I was a bit off tonight or having a bad day,’ and we’ll move on from it. We’re just trying to have a good time and not trying to change the world like we did in the 80’s. I have the occasional minor run in with Jon and George, but rarely with Mikey because he’s calmer. If he gets a bee in his bonnet though he can be the most belligerent of us all. It’s kind of funny. I’m more of the Henry Kissinger figure in the group, I keep it together (laughs).”
Hay always had a heavy part in the song writing process of the band, and I asked what his favourite songs in both writing and performance terms.
“It’s changed a bit over the years, but from the songs we’re playing now, when we play ‘Do You Really want To Hurt Me?’ there’s a pause between the intro and the opening verse. We played in the US recently and got a huge standing ovation during that- it was amazing.” That was pretty remarkable. And of course, ‘Victims’ has a moment in the set where everyone goes quiet. I remember coming up with that chord sequence when I was 20 years old, and the George just starts singing it after we wrote it in a little room together. Sometimes I look out and see people singing every word, hanging onto every word of George’s and I think that’s such an amazing thing to have done in your life, it’s very cool and makes it all worthwhile that’s for sure. Oh, and I always love playing Black Money on the piano.”
Having listened to Culture Club for the best part of 35 years, their music is diverse, musically gifted and timeless. The songs still resonate, and are far from being ‘manufactured’ in any way. The range of emotions on ‘Colour By Numbers’ for example, is like a day of Melbourne weather. Light, shade, hot and cold- all in one. It’s an array of feelings.
“People can forget that we were really original and not exactly ‘pop’, but when they see us live people see that we can really play, we’ve realised that too. We pace our set well and take people on that journey- it’s a lot of fun, man. We play music, man- come on, it’s all good, right?”
We’re drawing to a close, but I had to ask (as any good music journalist would), when the new album ‘Tribes’ will be released. It has well past the original release last year or so, but Hay say’s there’s no rush.
“We’re still working on it and actually have some studio time booked in the New year. I’m heading back to the UK after Christmas so we’ll all get together to do more then. We didn’t just want to put an album out and have it disappear into fairyland, so we felt we’d made really good work so as time goes by we’ll add more to it. The other thing was that we felt we needed to get out there and remind people about the band first, so when we do come out with a new album people go’ Oh Yeah, I saw them live so let’s listen to it. We’ve been getting our names on people’s lips again.”
Timing is everything, so it’s an unintentional marketing strategy that will hopefully keep them playing for years to come, to fans both old and new.
If you’ve never seen Culture Club live, you MUST. And, luckily for us they’re coming back to Australia VERY SOON. Here’s our review of the June show to give you a taste of what’s to come….again!
By Dazz Hassan
CULTURE CLUB ENCORE TOUR DATES
Tuesday 6th December 2016- Jupiters Theatre, Gold Coast www.ticketek.com.au
Support act: TBC
Thursday 8th December 2016- Fremantle Arts Centre
Tickets available from Oz Tix www.oztix.com.au
Support acts: Pseudo Echo and Real Life
Friday 9th December 2016- Seppeltsfield Winery, Barossa Valley www.ticketmaster.com.au
Support acts: 1927, Pseudo Echo and Real Life
Saturday 10th December 2016-Hope Estate Winery, Hunter Valley www.tickmaster.com.au
Support acts: 1927, Pseudo Echo, Kids In The Kitchen, Wa Wa Nee and Real Life
Sunday 11th December 2016- Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne www.ticketmaster.com.au
Support acts: 1927, Pseudo Echo, Eurogliders, Wa Wa Nee and Real Life