Don’t be surprised if Culture Club follows in Metallica’s footsteps and releases a warts-and-all, behind-the-scenes documentary.
Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster was a stark and intense, occasionally depressing, account of a band in crisis. Culture Club, though, is at a different crossroad. They are making a major comeback after years in the wilderness and are poised to release a new album.
Guitarist Roy Hay is enjoying the ride. He speaks to Weekender on the eve of Culture Club’s latest Australian tour – their third in as many years.
“It’s been a busy couple of years but a lot of fun. The only time we get off is when George is in Australia doing The Voice,” he says, laughing.
Culture Club were one of the biggest pop bands of the 1980s and the first band since The Beatles to achieve three top 10 hits from their debut album.
Songs like Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, I’ll Tumble 4 Ya, Karma Chameleon, The War Song, Church of the Poison Mind and Time (Clock of the Heart) made them a household name.
Unlike many of their contemporaries, though, Culture Club didn’t follow the trend and rely on synthesizers or drum kits. Theirs was a melting pot of influences and genres – a mix of reggae, pop, soul and New Wave.
“I think the ’80s was a good era for music. People cared about their product and put a lot of time and energy into it,” Hay says.
“The interesting thing about Culture Club is that we didn’t really have a typically ’80s sound. We used some technology but only to enhance what we were doing. It didn’t define our sound.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing over the years, though. George’s drug dependence resulted in the band’s first break-up in 1987. They reunited briefly in ’88 but it was in 2014 that they became serious about giving it another go and organised a tour.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride – we have our own soap opera which is endless,” Hay says, laughing.
“We agreed to a documentary once but it wasn’t what we wanted, however we have talked about trying again. It may happen next year, if things carry on as they have been and we finish the album.
“It would be quite interesting and people would get a kick out of it for sure.”
As for the work in progress that is Culture Club’s next album, Hay is optimistic.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. We will be finishing the record in London before we hit the road and it will be out next year. I’m feeling really good about it. We need two or three more really good songs and we’ll be ready to go, I think.
“Rumour has is that we will debut the lead single on The Voice in April. Remember, you heard it here first.”