alexa BlackBook: Fluid Notions: Face to Face with John Cameron Mitchell and Shamir

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Singer and songwriter Shamir — who just dropped Revelations, his third album — discusses the connection between gender expression and creativity with actor, writer and director John Cameron Mitchell.

 

 

John Cameron Mitchell: Do you get a lot of people saying you are their role model, in terms of your masculinity, your femininity, your mix? Do people say, “Thank you for letting me be me because you’re you?”

Shamir: I didn’t realize how important my representation was. I definitely tried to downplay it. One definitive moment for me was in Nottingham, when a queer British kid – he was Middle Eastern or Indian I think – told me how good it was to see a queer person of color in pop music. We’re still people, you know? It feels a little too martyr-y to be like, “I’m like Moses, and I’ll lead you through the water.” I’m still trying to figure out life. I was 19 when I came out. I remember one moment when I was on BBC World News, and this staunch British guy in a suit sitting across from me was like, “Transgender — what does that mean?” I was like, “Honestly, I don’t know because I didn’t make up that term.”

JCM: I remember when people started saying “post-gay” and I was like, “What does that mean?”

S: There are other words! There’s nonbinary, there’s genderqueer.

JCM: We don’t fear anymore – maybe that’s what they’re saying. Gender is a fluid thing but it’s also a very determining thing for many cultures, where you get killed if you don’t fit in. Being kind of a femme-y gay boy, and creating Hedwig, which is not really a trans character, it’s more accidental and he’s forced into a situation by politics. He’s in the middle because of people’s cruelty. It’s an interesting metaphor that a lot of people can relate to. It’s the idea of the Other.

S: When you’re in the public eye, people might think that it’s an aesthetic choice, and that’s one thing that really grinds my gears, especially if I get a David Bowie comparison. I’m like, “Hmm, I don’t like that. It’s not about a character – I’m not a character.”

JCM: He did a fake queer character. Cool, you know, he did it really well, but that’s about performance.

S: It’s performance art! Fine. But it’s not what I’m here for.

JCM: It’s about you recording straight out of your house, and people responding.

S: I feel the most content I’ve ever felt in my life.

 

Photos by Jason MacDonald & FilmMagic

alexa BlackBook Interview: Casey Spooner Sings About One-Night Stands and Open Relationships on his New Album

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IN the new year, cult-favorite band Fischerspooner will release Sir, its first album in 10 years. Casey Spooner, the 47-year-old lead singer of the electroclash outfit, is an ongoing force of creative change, using his subversive lyrics and audacious stage performances to challenge social convention.

Tell us about the new record. What inspired you to write it?

I knew very clearly that I wanted to make a record about contemporary homosexuality. At the time, I was in a long-term, open relationship, living this dream come true non-heteronormative life. But through the course of working on the record, my life went through so many crazy, dramatic changes that I could never have anticipated, and they ended up having a huge impact. My relationship unravelled, I lost my home, we had a lot of difficulty releasing the album, trouble with my family and death. So, the record became much more emotional. It’s about fame and pain, adventure and aging, romance and lust — it has a lot going on.

When did Michael Stipe get involved with the project?

I had written eleven songs and called him in to work on the twelfth. Within a couple of hours, he had come up with an amazing idea and completely shifted my perception of how to create musically. After a few months, he started really working on the record with me, dismantling and restructuring everything, and he had a lot of ideas about how he wanted me to sing — less this kind of cool, lower register character that I always played, and way more wild.

What was it like working so closely with another person on Fischerspooner, besides Warren?

Michael really made the songwriting more of a priority than the production. I never set out to be a singer, so it wasn’t something I defined myself by. That gave me a lot of freedom because I felt like I had nothing to lose. But when Michael came in, he really pushed me to develop my voice, and it was a very liberating and encouraging process that really helped me become a better singer. He just created a place where I could take risks and be vulnerable vocally for the first time.

You’ve called this record “your queerest yet.” What does that mean?

While we were working on one of the songs, Warren and I were talking and he wanted me to change the pronouns in the lyrics to make it more universal. I would’ve – and have – done that in the past, but this time, I said no. It occurred to me that when you make something universal, nobody is ever going to assume it’s a queer relationship — they’re always going to assume it’s straight. So, it was kind of a breakthrough for me that the concept ‘universal’ is actually very heteronormative. But it’s almost hard for me to think of making a record any other way. I’m just writing about my experience, singing about one night stands, and different kinds of connections that aren’t boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. More like, boy meets boy, they get married, they get a third boyfriend and have fun.

Did you have any hesitation about making such a personal record?

The thing is, a lot of people don’t want make a so-called gay record, because they feel that it ghetto-izes them, and that’s something I’ve wrestled with. But the reality is, I’ve learned a lot from straight people, so why can’t straight people learn from me? Why can’t they relate to my stories? We’re also living in a post-Trump universe, and I feel like it’s so much more important for us to have aggressively homosexual characters and content in the mainstream right now. There are so many people that are feeling really vulnerable and they need support so they don’t feel not alone, because it feels like the government is working against them. That’s probably the most important part about this record – it’s hopefully going to help other people feel comfortable about themselves in a culture that’s saying it’s okay to be a white supremacist, and to kill people who aren’t straight, white males.

 

Casey Spooner 
(pictured and above) describes his new Fischerspooner record as 
“his queerest yet.”

 

Do you think notions of gender and sexuality have changed in the industry?

What’s happening right now that’s so amazing, is that nothing has to be so clear. Some men are a little bit femme and some women are a little bit butch, some are neither, and they don’t have to go all out one way or the other. There’s a place for everyone, like a garden. There are all different kinds of plants that procreate in different ways and serve different purposes – sexuality functions in the same way.

What was the hardest part of making the album?

The actual recording process was great after Michael got involved. In the beginning, I was feeling a little lost and alone, but when we started working together, everything was fun. But outside of the studio, my whole life was collapsing, and I was clinging to this record as my only outlet. For me, the music was the easy part – it was the living that was hard. I mean, there were days when we were supposed to be recording, but I couldn’t even sing, because I was literally just weeping take after take. After my breakup, I went into my summer of not Eat, Pray, Love but live, tan, fuck.

You were in a really vulnerable space.

For sure. And Michael loved it! Every time we’d take a break, I’d come back to the studio, and he’d ask what happened. My experiences were just going right into the songs.

Is that something you’ve always done?

I always wrote from a similar place, but the editing process was different. And Warren wasn’t allowed to cut any of the vocals. In the past, he would have heavily edited things and pruned the lyrics he connected to. So, everything was a combination of our two perspectives. But these lyrics are from a really personal place, and it’s a more direct line of communication between me and the audience.

What do you want people to take away from Sir?

I want gay men and queer people to feel safe and emotionally connected to each other. Gay men, specifically – there are so many crazy, fucked up things, even as a white gay man, who has the most privilege in the queer realm. Still, gay men are wrestling so much with sex addiction and intimacy, drugs, and body dysmorphia. Those are the things that I’m really trying to talk about and deal with, so I can help people heal.

How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist?

I’m kind of terrified to say it, but I don’t know if I have. My ex-boyfriend actually just sent me a picture of myself from ‘97 – I’m 27-years-old, at a crazy performance in Williamsburg, dressed as a tiger wearing a jockstrap. It’s like, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Literally 20 years later, I’m still in a jockstrap, acting a fool.

 

Photos by Rinaldo Sata

alexa BlackBook: Alison Mosshart, Don Lemon, Matthew Modine, Nia Vardalos, Leslie Odom Jr. & More Tell Us Their Christmas Wish Lists

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WISH LIST: ALISON MOSSHART

The musician, artist and sometime-model serves as lead vocalist for indie-rock band the Kills, as well as for Jack White’s supergroup, the Dead Weather.

 

Maria Tash 18-k rose-gold diamond earring, $975 at Net-A-Porter.com

 

“Maria Tash earrings are 
all beautiful, tiny 
and shiny.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: DON LEMON
New York-based journalist Lemon — who’s won both an Emmy and an Edward R. Murrow Award for his reporting — currently anchors the primetime cable news show CNN Tonight.

 

Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig, $30 at Amazon.com

 

“As a kid, I saw Ali as this iconic figure — this black man who would have people hanging on his every word. 
But I didn’t get just how huge a figure he was until 
I was an adult. Everyone thinks taking a knee is a 
big deal, but think about being Muslim and saying 
you’re not going to fight in a war — jeopardizing 
your career. That took real courage.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: MATTHEW MODINE
“Scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be more tons of plastic in the ocean than fish,” says Modine, who appears on Stranger Things, streaming now on Netflix. “We have to be responsible consumers. Gifts like this will make your friends eco-warriors and demonstrate how you are hip, cool and a part of the solution.”

 

Bee’s Wrap (three pack), $20 at PatagoniaProvisions.com

 

“These food wraps are the perfect solution for eliminating plastic wrap. The anti-bacterial properties of the beeswax and jojoba oil help to keep food fresh and allow you to use the wrap again and again.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: NIA VARDALOS
Vardalos is now working on a play called Tiny Beautiful Things in New York. “As holiday shopping season approaches, I’ve eyeballed many corneapopping tiny beautiful things,” she says. “While many of us can’t exactly splurge on fanciful items, we can always drop loud and obvious hints!”

 

“Royal Strass” Swarovski-crystal adorned pumps, $3,995 at ChristianLouboutin.com

 

“If you’re like me and never want disco to die, then we can wear these redbottomed glittery shoes to every office meeting, to every rave and then to church the next day.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: LESLIE ODOM JR.

Odom Jr., who won the Best Actor Tony for his scene-stealing performance as Aaron Burr in Broadway’s Hamilton, now appears on the big screen in Murder on the Orient Express.

 

Get Out movie poster, $20 at 
Amazon.com

 

“I want a limited-edition Get Out poster framed — and signed by Jordan Peele, please — for my office. I haven’t gone to the theater to see a movie three times in 
… ever. I was entertained and inspired more than I can say. “

 

 

 

WISH LIST: AERIN LAUDER
Lauder is the image director for her family’s Estée Lauder brand, while also running her own popular beauty and home lifestyle company, AERIN.

 

Aspen Style, 
$85 at Assouline.com

 

“This book is high on my wish list. Not only because Aspen is such a special place to me, but also because the cover is so beautiful and will look amazing on any coffee table.”

 

 

 

WISH LIST: ELIZA COUPE
Actress Eliza Coupe, best known for her roles on Happy Endings, Scrubs and The Mindy Project, just returned to screens on the new Hulu series Future Man, directed by Seth Rogen.

 

Luxe gym bag, 
$165 at SweatyBetty.com

 

“I work out like a maniac and go through gym clothes and gym bags like crazy — Sweaty Betty makes the best workout gear!”

 

Illustrations by John Kenzie

Japanese Rock Star Yoshiki Makes His Classical Debut at Carnegie Hall

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Known primarily as the founder and drummer of Japan’s hardest heavy metal act, X Japan, Yoshiki also has a softer side. The multi-instrumentalist composer will be making his Carnegie Hall debut this Thursday and Friday accompanied by the Tokyo Philharmonic.  Yoshiki will be performing pieces from his recent album, Yoshiki Classical, which features collaborations with legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, and Quartet San Francisco.

Along with original compositions, Yoshiki will also perform well-known classics, using his heavy metal background as inspiration for his work. As a leading voice in the Japanese metal world, Yoshiki Classical at Carnegie Hall, will solidify the composer’s place in the American classical canon, as he transcends genre in what is sure to be a groundbreaking performance.

Yoshiki Classical at Carnegie Hall runs from January 12 to the 13, at the Perelman Hall in New York. Buy tickets, here.

Lady Gaga Goes Full-Rodeo in New Single ‘A-Yo’

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Lady Gaga continues to dazzle middle America with her Bud Light Dive Bar Tour, which yielded another song off of Joanne today: the cheeky, country-pop single “A-Yo.”

The song comes equipped with the bluesiest, most cowboy-ish lyrics Gaga’s ever written: She opens with “I can’t wait to smoke them all/Whole pack like Marlboro” and goes on to use car references like, “I can’t wait to rev you up/Faster than you can say ‘Ferrari.'” Quite the departure from the “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” of Gaga’s past.

Mother Monster co-wrote the song with Mark Ronson, BloodPop, and “Girl Crush” scribe Hillary Lindsey.

Take a listen below (you may want to find a cowboy hat and a mug of beer first):

Mad Decent’s LIZ Unveils Exclusive Mix Tape and Fashion Shoot

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As the reigning Princess of Diplo’s label Mad Decent, LIZ is a veritable zeitgeist of one. Fittingly, she’s gone and teamed up with Nicola Formichetti’s Nicopanda brand, for this exclusive autumn mixtape, fiercely titled Cross Your Heart. Featured is 33 minutes of previously unreleased music, in collaboration with top producers like Lido, Branchez and King Henry (who has worked withJustin Bieber). Chicago rapper Vic Mensa provides a guest verse, as well.

Accompanying is a cool, mind-bending fashion editorial, styled exclusively with Nicopanda’s F/W 2016 collection. You’ll never look at her the same again.

“I’ve always had an element of fantasy to my music and visuals,” LIZ says, “and this is more wild and experimental than ever.” She then adds, “I was honored to collaborate with Nicopanda. And with Cross Your Heart, I’m sharing a taste of what’s to come in the near future.”

liznp_sweatshirt_final

liznp_jacket_final

 

DNCE’s ‘Body Moves’ Video Features Lots of Skin and Sweat (Watch)

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DNCE has released their new music video for “Body Moves,” and it leaves little to the imagination.

Much of the clip shows lead singer Joe Jonas sans-shirt, entwined with models in elevators and/or surrounded by other semi-nude dancing club kids.

The video is directed by Hannah Lux Davis, and promotes DNCE’s forthcoming debut self-titled full studio album, available for pre-order here. The CD is out November 16.

Check out the racy video below:

AMA Noms: Drake Breaks Michael Jackson’s Record

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Drake has broken Michael Jackson’s previously held record for most American Music Award nominations in a single year. Drake, who released his album Views this year, as well as a collaborative album, What a Time To Be Alive, with Future, and projects with Rihanna, Wizkid, and Kyla, raked in 13 noms, beating out Jackson’s record of 11 in 1984 during the Thriller era.

Rihanna grabbed 7 noms, and Adele 5.

The AMA’s are chosen by fan votes – click here to cast yours. Voting closes November 17, and the show airs on ABC November 20 at 8 PM EST.

Check out the full list of nominees below:

ARTIST OF THE YEAR
·       Adele
·       Beyoncé
·       Justin Bieber
·       Drake
·       Selena Gomez
·       Ariana Grande
·       Rihanna
·       Twenty One Pilots
·       Carrie Underwood
·       The Weeknd

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR UN-LEASHED BY T-MOBILE
·       Alessia Cara
·       The Chainsmokers
·       DNCE
·       Shawn Mendes
·       ZAYN

COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR
·       The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya “Don’t Let Me Down”
·       Drake Featuring Wizkid & Kyla “One Dance”
·       Fifth Harmony Featuring Ty Dolla $ign “Work From Home”
·       Rihanna Featuring Drake “Work”
·       Meghan Trainor Featuring John Legend “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”

TOUR OF THE YEAR
·       Beyoncé
·       Madonna
·       Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

VIDEO OF THE YEAR
·       Justin Bieber “Sorry”
·       Desiigner “Panda”
·       Rihanna Featuring Drake “Work”

FAVORITE MALE ARTIST – POP/ROCK
·       Justin Bieber
·       Drake
·       The Weeknd

FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST – POP/ROCK
·       Adele
·       Selena Gomez
·       Rihanna

FAVORITE DUO OR GROUP – POP/ROCK
·       The Chainsmokers
·       DNCE
·       Twenty One Pilots

FAVORITE ALBUM – POP/ROCK
·       Adele “25”
·       Justin Bieber “Purpose”
·       Drake “Views”

FAVORITE SONG —  POP/ROCK
·       Adele “Hello”
·       Justin Bieber “Love Yourself”
·       Drake Featuring Wizkid & Kyla “One Dance”

FAVORITE MALE ARTIST — COUNTRY
·       Luke Bryan
·       Thomas Rhett
·       Blake Shelton

FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST — COUNTRY
·       Kelsea Ballerini
·       Cam
·       Carrie Underwood

FAVORITE DUO or GROUP — COUNTRY
·       Florida Georgia Line
·       Old Dominion
·       Zac Brown Band

FAVORITE ALBUM – COUNTRY
·       Luke Bryan “Kill the Lights”
·       Chris Stapleton “Traveller”
·       Carrie Underwood “Storyteller”

FAVORITE SONG — COUNTRY
·       Florida Georgia Line “H.O.L.Y.”
·       Tim McGraw “Humble And Kind”
·       Thomas Rhett “Die A Happy Man”

FAVORITE ARTIST — RAP/HIP-HOP
·       Drake
·       Fetty Wap
·       Future

FAVORITE ALBUM — RAP/HIP-HOP
·       Drake “Views”
·       Drake & Future “What a Time to Be Alive”
·       Fetty Wap “Fetty Wap”

FAVORITE SONG — RAP/HIP-HOP
·       Desiigner “Panda”
·       Drake “Hotline Bling”
·       Fetty Wap “679”

FAVORITE MALE ARTIST — SOUL/R&B
·       Chris Brown
·       Bryson Tiller
·       The Weeknd

FAVORITE FEMALE ARTIST — SOUL/R&B
·       Beyoncé
·       Janet Jackson
·       Rihanna

FAVORITE ALBUM — SOUL/R&B
·       Beyoncé “Lemonade”
·       Rihanna “Anti”
·       Bryson Tiller “T R A P S O U L”

FAVORITE SONG — SOUL/R&B
·       Drake Featuring Wizkid & Kyla “One Dance”
·       Rihanna Featuring Drake “Work”
·       Bryson Tiller “Don’t”

FAVORITE ARTIST — ALTERNATIVE ROCK
·       Coldplay
·       Twenty One Pilots
·       X Ambassadors

FAVORITE ARTIST — ADULT CONTEMPORARY
·       Adele
·       Rachel Platten
·       Meghan Trainor

FAVORITE ARTIST — LATIN
·       J Balvin
·       Enrique Iglesias
·       Nicky Jam

FAVORITE ARTIST – CONTEMPORARY INSPIRATIONAL
·       Lauren Daigle
·       Hillsong UNITED
·       Chris Tomlin

FAVORITE ARTIST — ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC (EDM)
·       The Chainsmokers
·       Calvin Harris
·       Major Lazer

TOP SOUNDTRACK
·       Purple Rain
·       Star Wars: The Force Awakens
·       Suicide Squad: The Album

Former Cure Drummer Lol Tolhurst on Memory, Music, and the Abyss

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Lol Tolhurst founded iconic punk band The Cure with lead vocalist Robert Smith in Crawley, UK in 1976. After performing as the band’s drummer and keyboardist for over a decade, his alcoholism caused him to leave the band. After a quarter of a century of legal battles, divorce, and pain, Tolhurst and his lifelong friends in The Cure made amends and played a series of reunion shows at the Sydney Opera House in 2011.

Chronicling his journey to international stardom, down to the darkest depths of addiction and isolation, and back to inner peace and creative fulfillment, Tolhurst has penned a memoir of his time with Smith in The Cure and on his own, aptly titled Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys, out tomorrow. We chatted with the artist about what it was like reliving such wild, sometimes painful memories, and what it means to be a true artist.

The book feels like a celebration of the band, and then an admission of guilt, an apology, and an atonement. What prompted the book? Was it part of your healing process? Did you feel like you owed fans the whole story? 

That’s an interesting question – I wanted to explain my life to myself. I got to a point where I was wondering, “What has gone on?” And I had an epiphany in 2013. I was in Hawaii, on vacation, and I went to see Robert, because The Cure were playing for the first time in Honolulu. I went to see them play, and we were sitting on the beach at 4 o’clock in the morning, chatting away, and I woke up the next day and thought, “I have to write this down. I have to record this, because otherwise I’m not going to understand the story.”
But also, as I went along in it, I realized, “Ok, there’s a bunch of people out there who I haven’t seen in years, who would like to know as well.” I wanted to set things right. I don’t want to leave all of that crap for other people to deal with. I want to be rid of it, because I want to go out just the way I came in.

In the process of writing the book, and talking to all these people you wanted to give the story to, did you find there to be a lot of difficult conversations you had to have in your research? Or was it mostly positive reunions?

Mostly positive – I didn’t really call people up and go, “Do you remember what happened?” Because I didn’t want it to be somebody else’s view of what happened. You’re bound to incorporate that into your thought process. So I thought, “I’m just going to mine my memories and find out what I want to write from them.” But what I did do, is if I hadn’t seen these people, I’d talk to them and say, “Ok, get out all your old albums.” And that’s what they’d do. And I went to London last year, because I live in California, and I visited people I hadn’t seen in 25-30 years, and I said, “Show me your photo albums. With me in it.” And that way we’d start a conversation.

Have Robert, or Porl, or Simon (other Cure members) been able to read the manuscript? Have they had any reactions?

Definitely Porl has, because he designed the cover. He lives in California now. I gave the manuscript to Robert in probably April or May – this year’s very busy for The Cure, and the thing about it is, I know that with Robert, if I don’t hear anything from him, that’s fine. Because if he doesn’t like something, he’ll call me up straight away and be very direct with me. We’ve known each other for a million years. I did hear from Simon – he told me he thinks it’s a great idea I’m writing a book. I think overall it’s all positive. A lot of memoirs tend to be score-settling exercises, and I really didn’t want to do that – the book was a vehicle for something a bit different for me. I didn’t want to be “Behind The Music Part 1000.” I wanted something that would evolve. That would be the framework, but it wasn’t going to be the story. I really loved Patti Smith’s book about her and Robert Mapplethorpe. That’s a beautiful story about two people finding themselves in a very different world. So that’s how I felt I could write about me and Robert, and then out of that comes the healing. 

You get super personal in the book. You talk about your mom passing. And that’s what you’re saying – it’s not just a “Behind the Music” story, but an emotional chronicle of feelings and experiences. So I wonder how this compared to writing a song. Did you find it to be more emotional?

If you look at the whole catalogue of The Cure’s material, that’s the area we go into anyway. It’s always very connected with emotions, and that outsider stance. So for me, writing the book, to connect to my emotions, it seemed very natural. But unlike a song, it’s a much longer process. It was a year of being in that space, every day. That’s what I did. I thought, “If I sit at home and try and write it, it won’t happen.” I rented myself a little office about a mile from where I live. It was a co-working space. I went in there every day 5 days a week, and tried to bash out as many words as I could. Sometimes I’d be sitting there, and one of them would go, “Are you OK?” There’d be a tear that had come up, because when you write something like that, that’s close to the emotional side, it’s like reliving it. Writing about my mother was very painful. I wanted the book to have weight and depth. Before I wrote it I read a bunch of memoirs – the ones that struck me the best were always the ones that were honest and open about their emotions. Not just a commercial for somebody’s life. 

Whose memoirs did you like best?

A couple I found really good. One was surprising, but not really since I’ve talked to him. It was Duff McKagan’s, from Guns N’ Roses. And I also liked Steve Martin’s, Born Standing Up. It’s the ones where people reveal themselves. It’s much more human.

There’s a passage in the book where you talk about the process of songwriting that you and Robert experienced, where you go into “the abyss.” And you and Robert were able to go into the abyss and come out unscathed. I’m wondering if you can say any more about that, because it’s so fascinating.

My basic premise there is what unites most artists of any fashion is that they are willing to look at things that most of the time the rest of society tells us we have to keep hidden. And that’s the abyss. I know that for us, our most intense moments as musicians were going a little further and looking at this stuff, and writing about it, or reliving it. Sometimes, though, you can fall over into the abyss. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened to me for a couple years. And I’m just glad I came out the other side, and didn’t fall into this club – most people in bands die at about 27, if they’re going to die from misadventure, it’s about then. Luckily, I’m about twice that.

You talked about going to these dark times with alcoholism. And you mention a few different low points in the book, with the divorce, and the court drama. What would you imagine is your lowest low and highest high, if you can pick.

My lowest low in lots of ways is that point, and I can see it in my mind as I’m talking to you about it, where I got the letter (asking Tolhurst to leave the band) from Robert after Disintegration, and I went for a walk with my dog and I’m sitting up in the Moors, which is a very lonely, wild place – there’s nobody there, and there’s stormy skies, it’s very evocative. And I lay on a rock, and I started crying. And I couldn’t feel anything. That was about my lowest point. I had the emotional response, but I felt dead. Highs – it might sound cliche, but having this book done and finished is pretty much a high for me. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and it’s surreal at the moment because I’m going through a whirlwind of press. But that’s what I’d call a high-class problem. 

When did you first have the idea to do this book?

Twenty years ago, I got a tattoo on my arm that’s two feathers my son found, crossed like writing quills. So somewhere in there, twenty years ago, I wanted to write this. I’ve talked to my book agent, who said “I have clients in their thirties who are writing books about their lives, and they have no perspective. Things that happened in their twenties are really close, so they can’t see what the true meaning of those events were. You’re at the perfect time to do it, because you’re not so old you can’t remember, but you also have a little space between the events.” I’ve always thought about our music – people will say “some of it’s depressing.” It’s not depressing, it’s a willingness to feel how you feel. It’s not always pretty.

Musically, do you have a proudest contribution or moment? A song, a moment onstage that’s your proudest moment in the band?

I think it was really awesome, in 1985 we played a festival in Athens. One of the other bands that was playing was Culture Club, and Boy George had a terrible time, because he had to stand behind a screen, because people in the audience were throwing rocks at him. And about a week ago George and I did the same TV show in England. And I was talking to him, we’ve known each other from back in the club days, and I said “Do you remember that? Remember the festival?” And he was laughing, but he said, basically, “I’m still here.” That’s one of my best memories. It’s awesome to walk onstage to a hundred thousand people, but it’s also awesome to remember, “I’m still here. I’m still doing stuff.” When you think about memories, you bring them from the past into the present.

Do you have a favorite gig?

I liked in 2011 when I met up with everybody again and we went down to Australia and played at the Opera House. In the space of about a few minutes onstage I was transported back to being a teenager, instantly. We were doing the same thing again that we used to do. It felt great. It was a high point.

Are there any musicians of the moment now who you like, and listen to?

It’s funny, because a lot of people my age will say “There’s no good bands anymore.” And I’ll tell them, “That’s not true!” What’s true is you don’t know where to look anymore, you’ve forgotten where to look for it.” My son is 24, he lives in San Francisco. So I go to him, and I say, “Show me what you’re listening to. Something you think I’d like.” And he showed me an electronic artist, Caribou, who I liked a lot. Things like that. I try to keep an open mind. Although I do know that as I get older, there’s not that much new. There’s variations on a theme from a while back, but there’s not much startlingly original. But there are good permutations. Meg Myers, I saw recently. I liked her. So I like different things. I like anything that’s honest.

Cured is available for pre-order now and in bookstores tomorrow.