Nardwuar vs Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen

Nardwuar: Who are you?Nardwuar and Ian McCulloch
Ian McCulloch: (Deep breath) Ummmm...

You are the supermellow man!
I'm supermellow? Well, I'm not really... Well, I AM in the super mellow thing, but the Supermellow man's Will Seargent's title and it's only the second time I've let him use one of his working titles because sometimes he'll have a working title for the song, but definitely that person in that song is me.

You're the King of Kings! Ian McCulloch!
Uh, yeah... that's it...

Echo and the Bunnymen!

Now, Ian... Echo and the Bunnymen. The first band from Mars? The first band from Mars?
Well the second after the Spiders, but maybe the BEST band from Mars.

Do you still have voices in your head, Ian?

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What have you been hearing?
"Don't do it."

And Ian, total broken bone count for you?
Total broken bone count? Hmm... None.

No (semi-chuckling)

You've been totally safe all these years.


Touch wood, touch wood.
Well... I should've broken me leg... I ended up falling off stage in Santa Barbara and this was the night before we had two shows in Berkeley... no... or was Oakland University and it was on the tour where us and New Order co-headlined. I ended up falling off the stage cause we were on a smaller stage than we were used to when it was a Bunnymen gig and I fell off the stage backwards cause I'd forgotten for the moment where I was and I assumed... well, I used to do this backwards gun thing during the song "Bed Bugs and Ballyhoo" and I fell down a shaft because we put big basebins in the orchestra pit so it meant that the gap-and this was probably a good thing-that the gap was only three feet wide. Went down there with me guitar, strapped to me back like Elvis and I just collapsed. It was quite a drop, like twelve feet or something. And I was lying there at the bottom, but me leg-me right leg seemed to have gone down separately from the rest of me body... It was almost like doing the splits down a wall, you know. And then a couple of the roadies pulled me up, phoenix-like, on one leg as I came out, carried me on the set and came offstage where my leg was twice as wide as my left one. I was in agony for days. A doctor in San Francisco prescribed the wrong treatment, he said deep heat when when I got back to England the doctor told me the opposite. He told me I should've had cold, icepacks and straight to the hospital. And what had happened was a pint of blood had clotted in my leg and when we got to the hospital--- Well, lucky it was the end of the tour because I could've ended up losing a leg or dying or something because the clot was that big it would've moved at some point. But I got on to Liverpool and I was in agony and me wife was giving me absolutely no sympathy. She said, "Well, if you could do the other two gigs you must be all right" I couldn't move! I couldn't get out of bed, really 'cause it was hurting that much! I went to the hospital and he looked at it and said "Jesus Christ, you've gotta go st raight in and get this removed! 'cause you've got a pint of blood clotted in your leg and it's really serious!" So the following morning I had it done. I've still got the scar, it's a great scar, down the side of me calf. But in the Oakland gigs, I'm hobbling around. I've just been on stage, I'd still be grooving, but then coming off, I'd just be in total agony and limping around to the dressing room. And in the dressing room, Courtney Love is in there sitting on the floor with Pete the drummer and Jake, who was kinda a roadie / keyboard player. And they're laughing! And I assume, because I was a bit paranoid in those days, that they're laughing at me. And they probably were, who knows, but I could've at least seen the funny side, if I hadn't have been so... I was just pissed off so I said, "Ahh you, get out of my fucking dressing room!" (laughs) And she was shocked you know, so she probably wasn't laughing, you know, at anything other than a joke they told. But that kind of started a few years of kind of non-talking. I know I upset her and I've apologized since. At that point, I knew I was going to split the band up at the end of the tour and I thought... I was just a bit paranoid, you know.

What year was that Ian?
It was 87.

Yeah, the back end of 1987.

And Courtney Love was hanging around back then, then?

Wow! That's pretty old skool! Well I guess she'd been to England earlier and actually---
Well actually she came to Liverpool when she was 15, so very early on around there, you know, '81, '82. She was into Echo and the Bunnymen I think since, Crocodiles, it was 1980.

And coming up shortly Ian, we're going to have some questions from Courtney Love for you that I can ask via me, Nardwuar the Human Serviette, but a couple more quick things here. Just wondering, Ian, have you seen Morrissey around at all, has he been to any of your gigs? What's going on with Morrissey?
Nothing I know of. I'm sure I would have spotted that chin (laughs) if he was down in the front row, but no, I mean, we only have bumped into each other once to do an interview in England. He's was really nice, Morrissey. But I don't know where he lives now. Is he in LA or is he in London?

I think he is in LA. Haven't you actually been to his house Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen?
Hehe (laughs) Yeah, we dropped him off, me and Lorraine (Ian's wife). Well, Lorraine dropped him off because she was the driver, but we did an interview together in Liverpool and he pronounced chasm "CH-asm" which I've never ever told journalist or anything. I was just amazed that he mis-pronounced chasm when he was described in the interview as the well read erudite kind of, you know, "booksmith," you know. And I was described actually in the same interview as a bit of a "blaggard" (laughs). I thought that was ironic.

Have you ever been to his house for dinner before, though?
Oh no, no we had dinner in Liverpool in the hotel. But we just dropped him off, it was his mum's house in Manchester in '82, no '83. It was earlier on before they went big. Johnny Marr on the other hand, I did a lot of writing with.

Ian McCulloch, when you see Vancouver listed on the tour sheet what do you think of. Like when you think of Vancouver, BC, where I'm from, what do you think of?
In the past, the first time we ever went there I remember, it was when we played the Commodore Ballroom years and years ago in the early '80s. I remember we had a night off on the first night so me and the tour manager and few other of the night owls prowled the streets looking for you know, dens of iniquity and stuff. And all I remember hearing in the main part of the centre was a woman screaming or women screaming in far off darkened alleyways. I thought, what the bloody hell is going on here? It sounded more scary than New York ever was and I remember thinking there seemed to be real proper loonies on the street. Which I dug. It was kind of like Liverpool on a Saturday Night, you know.


I understand that when you were here the last time, just recently, you experienced some Vancouver weirdos when you were at the Sugar Refinery.
Ahh, the Sugar Refinery... what was the Sugar Refinery?

It's like a little cool kind of coffee shop on Granville Street and I understand that you were there and a member of a Vancouver local band came up to you and serenaded you on the piano.
Yeah, who told you all this? Did you find it on the website?

A friend of mine, Sarah Kehayas. She's a writer for Chart Magazine. She was hanging out with you that night. She was the girl wearing the Velvet Underground T-shirt.
Is she the one that noted that I had great skin?

Yes. And you said that she should watch out for using skin products, that they're very dangerous.
I just use soap and water. These people who sell to women all around the world all these... your skin is whatever it is. I'm sure some things help slightly, but I've never had a problem with soap and water. Cold water and soap. I remember Paul Newman saying he used to wash his face in buckets of cold water with ice in and that's how he kind of still looks great. I mean, he still looks alright for someone who's like, 70 or so. But that was it really. It's nice when someone says you have good skin.

You were mentioning that Liverpool was pretty crazy or is pretty crazy. And how about Vancouver, with Blair there, I think he was from the band, ahem, Numb, serenading you on the piano. Does that happen often? Like, you'll go into a place and someone will start playing on the piano and singing to you, intentionally?
In certain places, yeah. If there's a piano there, yeah they'll be someone on it. But it was just a bit annoying the way he was doing it - if he had sang a beautiful song, but it was embarrassing, you know. I think he was singing "Ian McCulloch, smack him in the bullock." But I think me lasting memory of Vancouver now would be, I flew in from San Francisco the day of the gig. I was just flying in, and I happened to have a window seat and seeing all the timber rolling down the river and what a great looking town it was. When I was a kid, I used to love anything that showed Canada. You know, I could always tell the difference between an American program and a Canadian, and I'd go "this is Canadian" and I waited till the end and then it'd say "Made in Canada TV" or whatever. I remember when I was about seven, eight, or nine thinking that one day I'd have a log cabin in Canada, you know, somewhere in the snow. There's something about the Canadian twang as well, you know. I'm wise to three of greatest singer/songwriters, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell, and Ron Sexsmith I love as well. You know there's this lilt to the way Canadians speak and the way they write songs, that's more special somehow than a lot of similar style American stuff.

Well Ian McCulloch of Echo and the Bunnymen, do you keep up with any Vancouver soccer history? Like Peter Beardsley! He played with the Vancouver Whitecaps in the NASL.
Yeah I remember that! Maybe that should be my team then over there. Do they play in an American league or...

It was a Canadian-American league. It was like the league that had like Pele, and Alan Ball and all those people. And we also had Bruce Grobelaar. He was the goalie for the Whitecaps! Bruce Grobelaar, eh?
Oh, of course! You've reminded me, they've got to be my American League team. Is it still going, the league?

No, it is not. But the Vancouver team has been renamed the Whitecaps from the 86ers. It's a lower league but they still have the name "Whitecaps" going on. And believe it or not, Peter Beardsley just returned a few weeks ago to play a game, cause he wanted to come back to Vancouver to play one game. So he came back to play an exhibition game, so Peter Beardsley was still rockin' all these years later!
Yeah, he's only really just stopped playing in proper teams over here. He's one of them, he just loves playing and keeps himself fit. And he was a great player, Peter Beardsley. One of the best. The Whitecaps, they are my second team!

We also had Kevin Hector. Do you remember Kevin Hector at all? We had Kevin Hector and Rudi Krol. Remember that guy from Europe? It was one hell of a team! So Ian of Echo and the Bunnymen, you and John Peel, you guys love Liverpool FC don't you? John Peel loves Liverpool FC doesn't he?
Yeah, he doesn't go to the matches as often as he'd like cause I think he finds it hard to kind of get off with working . But also I think he's so shy, he doesn't realize that he can actually get tickets for nothing. I've got a season ticket which I pay for every June or July - the money goes off - and it makes me feel good that I've got my own piece of Anfield.


How much do you support the team? Do you like drink Carlsberg because they sponsor Liverpool and---
Naah, I don't drink lager really. I'm more of a bitter man. But I have drunk Carlsberg many times, but I'm not that stupid. Yeah, I love them. I travel when I can. I try to get tours fitted around when we've got more home games, but every season I'll miss five or six home games which is a drag, but I try to get to the main ones.

Do you think Robbie Fowler will last the season?
Good question. Yeah.

He's pretty wild isn't he, wearing those nasal strips on his nose?
(laughs) Yeah, it is a bit strange isn't it. He seems to have done away with it. I know why most people do wear the nasal strips. I mean it certainly wouldn't be to necessarily breathe easier.

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