‘80s icon grants virtual interview for Culture Club’s two-night PH concert
During the golden age of synthesizers, energetic and eclectic anthems, and overstated fashion sense, one band stood out and paved the way for the New Wave genre—the Culture Club. And fronting this band is the equally eclectic Boy George whose androgynous fashion sense made him an eternal ‘80s icon.
In their heyday, Culture Club raked seven straight Top 10 hits in the UK and nine Top 10 singles in the US. More incredibly, the George-led band also scored three Top 10 US hits from their debut album, Kissing to Be Clever—a first since The Beatles.
Culture Club enjoyed this successful ride for five years until they unexpectedly broke up in 1986. They got back together 12 years later and released the album Don’t Mind If I Do in 1999.
Bringing along their massive hits, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?”, “Time (Clock of the Heart)” “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” “Church of the Poison Mind,” “Karma Chameleon,” “Miss Me Blind,” “It’s a Miracle,” and “The War Song,” among others, George and Culture Club guitarist Roy Hay, bassist Mikey Craig and drummer Jon Moss reunited in 2015 for a brief mini-tour of the US.
Because of 2015’s success and positive critical reviews, the super group has decided to go on their first full world tour in over 12 years this year. A total of 40 cities across the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Asia are scheduled for the concert series, with Manila as the only stop in their Asian leg.
To promote their first-ever performance in the country, Boy George jubilantly faced Philippine reporters through a video conference on Thursday night.
The six thousand-mile distance and seven-hour time disparity were unrecognizable, with George ever candid with the local media, throwing side remarks throughout the tight 20-minute conference.
“I like this—it’s very sci-fi,” George jested as he adjusted to the setup.
The 56-year-old singer opened the conference with admitting his excitement to meet his Filipino fans especially upon learning of the level of anticipation here surrounding their arrival.
When asked why it took them more than a decade to go on an extensive tour, George explained that their band is so much better now than it was before.
“So you’re seeing us, really out there [performing]because we are older, we are smarter, and we are more relaxed. We are funnier, and I think we enjoy it more.”
But more than just satisfying themselves, George is particular in the effect they leave to their audience, “I think for us we always want to make sure that we leave the crowd with a big smile on their faces and a big smile in their hearts.”
The British icon then proceeded to talk about their reunion on record. As earlier reported, Culture Club will be releasing their new album Tribe, with their lead single, “More Than Silence,” before the year ends.
“I think the Culture Club has always been a very eclectic band—we’ve always been influenced by so many different things that our sound is quiet diverse, and there aren’t many restrictions in terms of what we can sing about, or what sound we can use, because we are a multi-culture club. We have always exploded and taken ideas from everywhere,” George explained.
“Outside, our new music is kind of like the old music but it’s a little bit more, I guess, confident and grown up. I think having all the knowledge and experience that we have now definitely has something to do with the [new]flavor of our music,” he added.
Both their reunion in the studio to record an album, and on stage to tour the world anew, George said, came at the right time.
“I think it [the reunion]is one of those things where if it’s meant to happen it will really happen. We are really in a good place right now, and we are a little bit more secured. I believe the best time for us to be together is when everybody’s feeling positive and enthusiastic,” he expounded.
When he was still alive, another music icon Freddy Mercury of super band Queen, prophetically said Boy George will stay for a long time in the industry.
“I don’t think Boy George is gonna come and go. I think he will be here for a long while. There will always be people like that but for me, you can always tell who’s gonna stay and Boy George is gonna stay,” Mercury was recorded saying in an undated interview.
Returning the same question to him—that is who among the current crop of young artists today he believes will enjoy longevity, George seemed to hesitate answering initially.
“I think it really depends on why you are doing what you do, or what your agenda is. Do you want to change the world; do you just want to get rich? Everybody has different reasons for being an entertainer,” the ‘80s icon said.
But George eventually blurted out, “I suppose Adele is someone I can imagine going on doing this incredible work for years to come. Also Sam Smith–he has a beautiful voice.
His answered differently, however, when asked who he sees will be inheriting his throne in the music industry. “I don’t have any [one in mind]because I think you can only be yourself. In the music industry we have so many people who are versions of other people. And I think we need to understand that it takes a lot of time [to thrive in this industry]. You have to be an individual, you have to be unique and you have to find your own identity. So, I can’t imagine anybody replacing me but I would encourage them to try,” he laughed.
“Honestly, when I was 19, I really didn’t think beyond the week. I never thought I would be sitting 30 years down the line discussing my career. I never thought beyond. It’s very surprising to be talking about what I do, it’s a wonderful privilege,” George said.
Following his sincere reflections, George became almost poetic in describing his love for music.
“I think music is a great place to escape to. When I was growing up, music was something that I escaped into. I would sit in my room, turn off the lights and listen to my favorite music and kind of just drift off into an imaginary, wonderful colorful place. And I think that’s kind of still what I do; I still think that music has the power to transform, to excite, to make you laugh, make you cry, make you dance, to make you fall in love. All of those things, I think music is a wonderful, magical kind of gift, and for me it’s one of the most important things in my life–I can’t imagine my life without music,” George openly spoke.
“I can’t imagine how different it would be without all the wonderful soundtracks and artists that I grew up with like David Bowie, Marc Poland, all of the ‘70s bands, punk rock, electro music, dance music, jazz. I mean the list really goes on and on; there’s so many things that made my life as colorful as it is. Music is everything.”
With a palpable confidence in his delivery, George was asked what his advice would be for people who lack in believing in themselves.
“Sometimes, developing confidence can take time; most of us really only achieve confidence as we get older and we grow into who we are but, I think, the essential thing is always to take ownership of who you are and to love and be proud of yourself. I think that’s a great starting point.
George then addressed the people who can’t get their confidence from the people who surround them. “It is obviously amazing if you have wonderful support from you family or you’ve got that kind of wonderful network, but not everybody has that.
“When we’re young, we go out and we create our own families; we find other people that are like us–people that make us to do the same things. So I think my advice would always be don’t isolate or don’t cut yourself off.”
“There’s always somebody out there who understands you, there’s always somebody who you can talk to,” George ended.
Culture Club featuring Boy George Live in Manila is happening on June 17 and 18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Tickets are already available at www.tickenet.com.ph.