Echo and the Bunnymen lead singer Ian McCulloch has no problem
with fans who might think the band's soon-to-be released comeback album,
Evergreen (July 15) offers nothing new and unusual.
In fact, that's
what he's hoping for.
"Even the name, Evergreen, has an element of
tongue in cheek," says McCulloch of Echo's first album of new material since he
left the band to pursue a solo career in 1989 (barring 1990's McCulloch-less
Reverberation). "But, that's also what we are, evergreen. In our best
songs of the past, some may have been heavy on the pretentiousness and
melodrama, but others, whether they came out in the '70s, '80s or in 2010, they
fit in. A song like 'The Killing Moon' still sounds relevant to me."
the dozen songs on the new album, from the gloomy opening track "Don't Let It
Get You Down," with its jangly, spiraling lead guitar line, to the swelling,
classic Bunnymen mope of the title track, do have a timeless quality. "We
always set out to do timeless stuff," says McCulloch, who feels at ease with
the notion that new songs such as the strident dark pop of "In My Time" and the
classic Echo ebb and fade of "I'll Fly Tonight" could have been culled from any
random sampling of the Bunnymen's catalog.
"I think if you put (our first
album) Crocodiles next to the latest thing from Supergrass or whoever,
it stands up. In fact, it more than stands up," he says.
With a decade out
of the limelight and the addition of drummer Mike Lee to replace original
member Pete de Freitas, who was killed in a 1989 auto accident, the Bunnymen
are counting on the winning power of lush pop arrangements and dreamy
songwriting to bring their fans back into the fold. "The whole reason we got
back together was because we just realized it's what we are," says the singer
about last year's decision by the band to give it another go. "We all agreed
that it made sense, but with the criteria that we have to aim to make not only
the best rock record that we've ever made but the best record of 1997."
Once McCulloch was convinced the band had found the best replacement for
de Freitas ("Mike is brilliant. He's powerful, perhaps more powerful than Pete
even, if that's possible," says McCulloch), they entered London's Masterock
Studios for seven weeks in February and March of this year and banged out the
dozen songs in short order, often in only one or two takes.
"We wanted to
do things as spontaneously as possible and to try and find the same color and
character of our early albums," says McCulloch.
And how will fans weaned
for the past few years on all things Brit Pop treat new Echo songs such as the
first U.S. single, "I Want to Be There (When You Come)," a classic Echo downer
pop tune with jangling guitars and a trippy, rippling psychedelic solo? "Well,"
says McCulloch with no hint of distress, "they're already playing the first UK
single on the radio all the time and it doesn't sound so out of place. We'll