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LIFE Lessons

PIONEERS OF RACIAL AND LGBTQ+ EQUALITY, ENDLESSLY QUOTABLE, CREATORS OF WONDROUS SOUL-POP – CULTURE CLUB WERE POSSIBLY THE DEFINITIVE 80s BAND. INTERNALLY, OF COURSE, THEY WERE A TOTAL MESS. BACK WITH THEIR FIRST ALBUM IN NEARLY 20 YEARS, HOW ARE FOUR OF THE MOST VOLATILE PERSONALITIES IN POP FINALLY MANAGING TO GET ALONG HAPPILY? WE MEET THE CALMER CHAMELEONS TO LISTEN TO THEIR GROUP THERAPY…

BOY GEORGE AND CULTURE CLUB

Boy George And Culture Club, as they’re now named, are reinvigorated and raring to go with the release of new album, Life, on 26 October

“CALLING US BOY GEORGE AND CULTURE CLUB IS JUST TO MAKE IT VERY CLEAR THAT NOBODY ELSE IS GOING TO DO THE SINGING. IT’S NOT LIKE THAT TIME THEY TRIED TO REPLACE ME. SO LET’S GLOSS OVER THAT!’’ Boy George

Culture Club aren’t called Culture Club anymore. Officially, their arena tour and new album Life are credited to Boy George And Culture Club. For a band who rarely went five minutes without a huge tantrum in their heyday, this seems a fantastically provocative move by their singer. Except that it turns out the band’s fans are responsible. “A lot of people were asking if I was going to be in the band”, says George, sounding sickeningly awake for someone on an 8am phone call. “People were asking me when they heard Culture Club were coming back: ‘Is it the real Culture Club? Is it with you as well?’”

Fans were perhaps right to be suspicious: in 2006, during one of Culture Club’s many hiatuses, the other three members briefly replaced George with former Marc Almond backing singer Sam Butcher, after posting an advert on Gumtree looking for a new vocalist.

It didn’t work. “Calling us Boy George And Culture Club is just to make it very clear that nobody else is going to do the singing. It’s not like that time they tried to replace me. So let’s gloss over that!” And with that, Boy George laughs for ages.

He laughs a lot, Boy George. So does Roy Hay, the guitarist who co-wrote all of Culture Club’s hits with George. They’re both highly entertaining, not least because they’re very self-aware about their own faults in their band’s colourful history. Given that Life is Culture Club’s first album since 1999, and that there’s already been a dramatic false start in their comeback when an early version of the record was shelved four years ago, you’d expect a certain caution about discussing internal band politics. But, well, this is Culture Club, about whom Roy says: “There’s a lot of personality to Culture Club.” George responds: “Roy is absolutely right about that!”

Prior to 2018’s Let Somebody Love You single, 2014’s More Than Silence was the last we’d heard from the band
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About Classic Pop

Classic Pop magazine is the ultimate celebration of great pop and chart music. Each month we bring you the very best artist interviews and features, music news plus a packed reviews section. From the new wave acts of the late-70s through to the synth-pop, New Romantic, ska, indie and guitar greats of the 80s and chart stars of the 90s, it’s all here. We also bring the story bang up-to-date with new acts that have a retro flavour.