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Where egos dare
Louis Walsh and Bono suffer a roasting as Echo And The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch talks to Hot Press about life as an indie-pop legend and explains why he’s rock music’s answer to Frank Sinatra.
Craig Fitzsimons, 16 Jan 2007
Ian McCulloch doesn’t believe in false modesty – or, indeed, any kind of modesty.
Famously, the frontman with ‘80s post-punkers Echo And The Bunnymen (the band reformed in the late ‘90s), Ian was prone to lament that the Bunnymen never quite got the recognition their output deserved. But, like many of their contemporaries, the band’s work has been readily embraced by a whole new audience since the sublimely sinister strains of their career high-point single ‘The Killing Moon’ appeared on the wondrous Donnie Darko soundtrack.
As McCulloch points out, in a mellifluous near-Aldridgian Scouse accent, “A whole generation seems to have come along and decided the early ‘80s are where it’s at. The Killers are big fans of ours. And people trust their favourites to have good taste, that they won’t let them down. Like, as a kid, I was mad into Bowie – he’d mention the Velvets, Can and the Stooges, and that was good enough for me to go and buy it. There’s always something you can trace back. I always felt we grew out of the ‘70s but landed in the ‘80s. We were really informed by the whole New York thing.”
During the Bunnymen’s heyday, McCulloch earned something of a reputation for verbally trashing other bands. Ian insists that too many remarks were misconstrued, and ended up looking nastier in print than was intended.
“As a Scouser, your natural mode of expression is sarcasm, irony, the sharp-witted put-down, cutting through the bullshit,” he asserts. “You slag off everything that moves, and it doesn’t mean any harm. The truth is, I honestly did think most of the stuff out there was crap. But maybe I overdid it sometimes, you come across as mean-spirited and then people just think you’re an arrogant wanker.
“It wasn’t like I was coming from a position of weakness. I know how great the Bunnymen were and are. Anyone with a brain is well aware that I was the frontman in the greatest band of all time. So if I say someone’s got a crap voice, it’s like Sinatra saying it, and it should be taken seriously. I know what I’m on about.”