With a new album out, a box set on the way and a U.S. tour about to begin, Echo and the Bunnymen are everywhere these days. But don't call it a comeback.
"I don't do nostalgia," guitarist Will Sergeant said good-naturedly from his home in Liverpool. "We had the album in the works, and the box set was going to come out whether we wanted it to or not, so we figured we might as well be involved."
Flowers, the new album, sounds like classic Bunnymen, with psychedelic guitar washes and lyrics from singer Ian McCulloch that mix optimism and dread. The darkness-in-beauty theme is reflected in the album's cover, a pastoral shot of a late-19th-century couple and their baby in a rowboat.
"That's from a book called 'Wisconsin Death Trip,' about this place called Black River Falls where people went crazy and did all these evil things," Sergeant said, savoring the contrast between the surface and what lies underneath. "We've always tried to mix the pretty with the dark."
The album is the third since McCulloch and Sergeant started recording again under the name Echo and the Bunnymen after a mid-'90s hiatus. The two released a 1995 album, Burned, as Electrafixion, because McCulloch, who had pursued a solo career, was uncomfortable using his old band's name.
"He didn't want to do it, but that never made sense to me," Sergeant said. "We are who we are, and that's what our fans expect, even if we did release some dodgy albums in there."
Sergeant said fans can expect a mix of new material and Bunnymen standards such as "Bedbugs and Ballyhoo" and "Lips Like Sugar" on their U.S. tour, which kicks off June 30 in Detroit. "Those songs are like old friends," Sergeant said. "I never get sick of them, but we always try to do something a bit different with them."
Even hard-core Bunnymen fans should be satisfied with Crystal Days 1979-1999, a four-disc collection of singles, album tracks and rarities, including a disc of covers, due July 17.
"We wanted to give people lots of things they didn't already have," Sergeant said.
Sergeant promised some surprises in addition to hits on the tour. He'll also do a 30-minute set of ambient electronic music prior to Bunnymen's performance. "I hope to have everyone asleep by the time we come on," he said with a laugh.
Echo and the Bunnymen tour dates, according to the band's publicist:
- 6/30 - Detroit, MI @ Comerica Michigan Tastefest
- 7/ 2 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
- 7/3 - New Haven, CT @ Toad's Place
- 7/5 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
- 7/6 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 7/7 - Plainview, NY @ The Vanderbilt
- 7/8 - Sea Bright, NJ @ Tradewinds
- 7/10 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
- 7/12 - Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
- 7/13 - Cleveland, OH @ Odeon Concert Club
- 7/14 - Chicago, IL @ Metro
- 7/15 - Minneapolis, MN @ Quest Club
- 7/17 - Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
- 7/19 ñ Los Angeles, CA House of Blues
- 7/20 - San Diego, CA @ Del Mar Racetrack
- 7/21 - Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
- 7/22 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
- 7/24 - Vancouver, BC @ Richard's on Richards
- 7/25 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox