Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen at Coachella 2010

Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen

One Cool Bastard

Apr 23, 2010 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Web Exclusive
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After 32 years and 11 studio albums, Echo & the Bunnymen have become rock mainstays, influencing a new generation of synth-worshiping, post-rockers both at home in the U.K. and abroad. Under the Radar sat down with lead Bunnymen Ian McCulloch at Coachella to discuss the band's legacy, creative process, and taking the show on the road.

Laura Studarus: How would you describe your new album's sound?

Ian McCulloch: I wouldn't. It's just Echo & the Bunnymen. Your job is to describe things. I always find when an interviewer asks me to explain or describe something; it's just me, that's the description. Itself, in itself is the description. That's what I think. I'm not having a go, but it's a mad thing to answer.

So you'd describe it as part of your sound.

Yeah. It is slightly different from the one before. I don't know, it's a good sound.

When you go into the studio, how much do you take your legacy into consideration?

Yeah I think there's always a good thing after the heights that you've reached to try and go higher. Most of our songs are great. I remember saying years ago that "The Killing Moon" is the best song I've ever written. And people said, "Maybe you shouldn't have said that. Because if it is the best song you've ever written it can be a block or a barrier to do something better." Since "The Killing Moon," "Nothing Lasts Forever" is as good as "The Killing Moon." It's newer because the "The Killing Moon" is now 26 years old or twenty-seven years old. It's kind of grown or established in the wider consciousness as a great song.  

Do you feel the way the band has worked together has evolved over the years?

Yeah, it's changed. It's evolved. It's just moved from one song to another. It's not like the ascent of man. It's songs that we write. But yeah, I always thought we had a wide spectrum of the kind of song we can write anyway. I think the first album had different types of songs on it. So I don't see it as changing from album to album necessarily, but as from song to song. I've always felt that. I've always liked the slower, I guess you could call them ballads, I suppose that's what they are. But I enjoy them. I enjoy the spiteful rock songs as well. I prefer to sing, as a singer, things like "Idleness of the Gods" or "The Killing Moon."

What keeps you excited about the musical process?

Self-expression. I supposed getting played; it's nice to hear stuff on the radio. And people around the world liking it. For me it's the inception of the song is the most exciting. I haven't even got the words; I might have a phrase or something, and a melody line. I've got loads on the go now, and that's all I'm singing in my head all day long, the new songs. I think in melody lines now before I pick up a guitar. That's changed. In the old days, for most of the first 10 years, it would be a chord sequence and I'd fit a tune to it. Which I think I might do more of on the next album. But I can't stop thinking of melodies. I love that part of it. In the studio I want to go from what I hear in my head straight onto tape. I enjoy playing and stuff but the process of recording isn't my favorite bit by any means.

You mentioned the next album, are you starting to think more about that?

Yeah yeah. I want to go in the studio at some point in the summer between festival dates or whatever just to get some things down.

With all the festivals on your schedule, what keeps you excited about going out there?

With Coachella everyone says it's the best one over here. It's just playing our songs. Our set list goes on for 50 minutes and every song's a classic. So that's cool to play to people who wouldn't normally come and see us. I used to hate doing festivals but I've got to enjoy them now. This part of it, I don't like to stay in the dressing room and wait. But I suppose deep down I'm a bit nervous. We're all playing to new people!

So when you look at your career to date and what's to follow, how do you want to be remembered?

I don't know. As long as I know I've lived up to my expectations. When I'm down low, there's no memory. But I hope people recognize the band as a fantastic important band that was always out on their own. And I hope I'm remembered as having a great voice and being a great lyric writer. And a great melody writer. Simple things I suppose. And a cool bastard as well. That was always kind of important.

(www.bunnymen.com)



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Dawn Carson
May 16th 2010
1:34pm

You were always a cool bastard Mac.  x