Culture Club: With fresh material on way, Boy George talks about ‘living in the now’

By Jimmie Tramel

Source: Tulsa World

Boy George said this about Culture Club’s forthcoming new album: “It will be interesting to see what people think of this record because, you know, people don’t really write songs anymore.”

What did Culture Club’s iconic singer mean by that? Keep reading for an explanation. And — bonus — you can reacquaint yourself with bands responsible for MTV-era gold when Culture Club performs with the B-52s on Thursday, July 12, at Paradise Cove inside the River Spirit Casino Resort.

Culture Club is returning to Tulsa for the first time in two years. During a recent phone interview, Boy George talked about how he and his band mates are going to places in America they never used to play.

“The last couple of years we have done a ton of gigs in Texas,” he said. “It wasn’t really a big place for us back in the ’80s, but things change and that also applies to kind of countries as well.”

Boy George said one of the great things about having an international career is there’s always somewhere to go, and Oklahoma is as good a place as any.

“Even from the UK, growing up as a kid, it’s one of those places that was in the movies, so we definitely know about Oklahoma,” he said. “It’s a very famous place. For me, we know that we have fans everywhere. It’s really nice to sort of finally come to play places we didn’t play back in the day because we are that band now.”

Back in the day? Three songs from Culture Club’s debut album became top 10 hits in the U.S. Almost overnight, the group went from playing small clubs to performing at stadiums.

“And that was a big adjustment, you know? So I would say it has taken me the best part of 30 years to feel comfortable in the live situation. I really, really enjoy it now. It’s a different thing.”

Selected questions and answers from the phone interview:

Are you accomplishing what you wanted to accomplish on your current tour?

I think we are. We’re about to release a new record. I would say the live sort of situation is really the most exciting thing now because it’s the one place where nobody else can beat you. Do you know what I mean? It’s the one place where you get to really be yourself and then your music is kind of your personal identity, and it’s a very unique kind of situation where nobody is in the way. There’s no radio station in the way. There are no record company executives in the way. There’s no middle person. I think that’s one of the reasons why I really like it. With music, you spend so much time talking about it. I suppose it’s like sex in that respect. You spend more time talking about it than you do doing it. And when you finally do get to kind of jump out on that stage, you never know what the audience is going to be like. Wherever you go, the frequency changes and what you did last night won’t work tonight and that’s part of the fun of it. That’s part of the excitement of it.

You tweeted this recently: “I never feel nostalgia. I’m totally in the now!” And you have new music on the way.

New music is about now. You can’t live in the future, and you can’t live in the past. Now is really the only time to live. When you are doing a live show, especially for us because we are considered to be an ’80s band even though I was born in 1961. …. (People tell me) ‘you’re from the ’80s.’ No, I’m from 1961. But I think people always talk about bands like Culture Club and artists like me in pop context. Sometimes when you are being interviewed, you think, ‘Oh my God, I am here now?’ Of course, it’s important to recognize what you have done and that’s all great and exciting, but it doesn’t really help what you do now. I’m a big fan of Eckhart Tolle. He wrote that book “The Power of Now.” I’m a big fan of that book, and I’m a big fan of that kind of mentality. If you are too sort of obsessed with what you did before and what you are going to do next, you are missing all this wonderful now-ness. I’m a big advocate of living in the now and enjoying now, and that’s one thing you can do at a concert. This is me, now, tonight. Tomorrow night I may be someone entirely different.

Did Culture Club come along at exactly the right time or was the band a little ahead of its time?

Hmmmm. I don’t know really. I’m very glad that I kind of grew up in the decade that I have grown up in. I would describe myself as very much a product of the ’70s and not the ’80s. The ’70s were really what shaped me as a person. That’s when I became who I am. The ’80s were when I had my success, but I would say the ’70s really were the decade that kind of made me who I am. Glam rock. Punk rock. Electro music. Disco. You had everything in the ’70s. Prog rock. It was such an exciting, interesting decade.

“And in a way the ’80s was as a result of the ’70s, in the way that each decade leads into the next and has a huge cultural effect on the next decade. So I think that Culture Club probably did happen when they were supposed to happen. And we’re happening again. And that’s exciting too because we just made a new record and the record really speaks to who we are now.

“It will be interesting to see what people think of this record because, you know, people don’t really write songs anymore. Do you know what I mean? Like, what you hear on the radio is just a lot of chorus. There are a lot of people out there who are wonderful singers and wonderful dancers and fantastic performers, but I’m not sure how much of themselves they are revealing in their work. I suppose I come from a time when artists really wore kind of their hearts on their sleeves and used their music as away of expressing things about themselves.

“The last person to really do that was Amy Winehouse. That’s why she was such a phenomenon because her pain made a beautiful sound. She bled on stage. She told you everything about her in her music and those people just don’t come along anymore. You always have to think about, when you listen to old music — you listen to Sam Cooke, you listen to Bob Dylan — you have to remember the sort of social climate in which that music was made and why it was made. I suppose that’s the stuff that really turns me on. It still turns me on.

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