Ian Hunter has set a Jan. 9 date to start recording his next album, and he promises it will be markedly different than his last couple of releases.
"It's very strange; after all these years of being a sort of singer-songwriter, this is very much a band album," Hunter tells Billboard.com about his follow-up to 2009's "Man Overboard." "This is a rock 'n' roll record. And it came to me, I didn't go looking for it. Maybe I'm just bored with being a singer-songwriter." Or, Hunter notes, it may speak to the relationship he's developed with his Rant Band touring outfit over the years.
"I've had the Rant Band now for 10 years; in the form it is now I think I've had it for four years," Hunter says of the group, which shares guitarist (and album co-producer) Andy York with John Mellencamp. "We've gotten to know each other really well. It plays like a band now. It doesn't really play like me and a band; it plays like a band, and I've always been a band guy, not really a star who's separate and apart. When you're a songwriter, it's like you present them with the finished article and they then enhance it. With a band situation, you go into a rehearsal room and figure it out. That's what we're going to do this time, I think."
Nevertheless, Hunter says he does want to have his new songs worked out to a certain degree before the group gets to work on them. "I've got the songs, and I've got a ton of lyrics, too," he says. "I've just got to match 'em up." As for his lyrical inspirations this time, Hunter says that, "I read a lot of books. I don't do much girl-boy stuff anymore 'cause I'm an old guy now. The songs just kind of come. That's the way I like it best."
Hunter, who released "Man Overboard" on New West, hasn't yet decided how he'll release the next album, though he acknowledged that he's "thinking about" creating his own label and handling it independently. "It's the Wild West out there now," he says. "I've talked to a lot of people about what's the best way to go. I'm beginning to think maybe I'll be better off going more direct than I've been doing up to now. We'll see."
Hunter and the Rant Band have dates booked through Nov. 18, and he's also been getting a bump from "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople," the Chris Hall and Mike Kerry-directed documentary that's already out on DVD in the U.K. and comes out Monday (Nov. 14) in the U.S., tracking the group's career from its start to its October 2009 reunion shows in England.
"It's brilliant, an incredible movie. It really is excellent," Hunter says. "They got it absolutely right. They called us before they did it and they were really in love with Mott and it shows. It's very complete. They found Uris Theater footage. They found (David) Bowie introducing us in Philadelphia and singing with us, way back when ('All the Young Dudes') first came out. When they started doing it, no reunion was planned, so when the reunion happened it really wrapped it up for them and gave the movie a climax."
Hunter is pessimistic about any future Mott reunions, however. "I've got too much work, for one," he explains. "I love playing with them. It's great rehearsing with them. It's lovely, the band thing. The business end of it stinks. It's complicated, and I can't talk about it. Our situation makes Pink Floyd look like bosom pals -- and it's got nothing to do with the band. If it eases up and gets simple, maybe we can do something again. But for now, nothing."