How Morrissey and Spirituality Inspired Culture Club's First Album In 19 Years

Rankin
Boy George and Culture Club

Culture Club is aware that many fans are still attached to its classic work, but on sixth album Life, out Oct. 26, the group didn’t pay it much mind. “I love the old songs, but to stay in a nostalgia vein would just be too boring for me,” says frontman Boy George, 57. The top-hat-sporting singer, who will next join the band on a European tour in November, helped create the mix of blue-eyed soul and reggae-infused pop, having done the following.

HE LISTENED TO OTHERS
“Sometimes you get those sessions where there are too many people in the room -- I take the view that because I’m delivering the message, the story and the concept have to come from me. [But] on this record, I was much more open to melody changes and how something drops. [Culture Club guitarist Roy Hay] quite often would say, ‘Well, what about this?’ And surprise, surprise -- you sometimes get really good results when you allow other people to have an opinion. We’re more connected now.”

HE GOT IN TOUCH WITH HIMSELF
“When you’re a kid and you’re made to feel like you don’t belong at a very early age, it sets up a relationship with the world that’s very unique. I would say I’m spiritually wanting, [but] I don’t describe myself as a spiritual person. The opening song on the album, 'God & Love,' addresses this very subject. Saying you love someone is all very nice, but showing you love someone is even more amazing. Doing spiritual work, whether it’s on yourself or for other people, is how you express your spiritual side.”

HE CHANNELED HIS FAVORITE SONGWRITERS
“I often reference someone like Morrissey when I’m writing about relationships because he looks at love from such a peculiar angle. Who else writes a lyric like, ‘The more you ignore me, the closer I get’? You just go, ‘Oh, my God -- is this guy reading my mind?’ For me, I’m always looking at lyricists like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell. Morrissey I would put in that category, though some people may balk at that. And Marc Bolan as well. He was one of the great surrealists.”

HE LET THE STARS GUIDE HIM
“All my favorite records have big choruses. I go back to The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Sly & The Family Stone, Gladys Knight & The Pips, just those beautiful, soulful harmonies. I work a lot with dance producers -- we found some young producers in London called Future Cut for this album -- and a lot of them don’t like backing vocals. And trying to convince someone that every picture needs a frame is not always easy. But being a singer and being a Gemini, I demand to be heard!”

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 20 issue of Billboard.


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