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The annotated Ian McCulloch: Echo and the Bunnymen frontman's pearls of wisdom

echo and the bunnymenIan McCulloch takes a drag at Coachella. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

By David Malitz

Last year at SXSW I conducted an interview with Ian McCulloch, frontman for rightly-revered Brit-rockers Echo and the Bunnymen. The interview simply sat on my recorder for more than a year because I knew that there wasn't much to do with it. For almost two hours he plowed through Long Island iced teas, convinced me to do the same, mostly refused to talk about music (except to occasionally mention how great his band was) and we basically just ended up talking about Bob Dylan and what would happen if we met him. My journalism teachers would have been very proud of this performance, no doubt.

Add to that his thick accent and slurring and there are minutes-long segments of the interview where I've got no idea what he's saying. Then there was the 10 minutes when Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream stopped by and they talked about football, meaning they were basically speaking two foreign languages. But I managed to dig up a few nuggets. Think of this as one of those Esquire-type "What I've Learned" pieces. And you'll see why he earned the reputation Mac the Mouth. The band plays a sold-out show at the Black Cat Friday night and you'll hear some songs from new album "The Fountain" but you'll mostly hear the classics, many of which are YouTube embedded after the jump. (Check Express Night Out for more on the band.)

- Steven Gerrard is the best footballer ever. As good as Pele.

- Bo-no. I hate that [expletive] [expletive]. When I started saying Bo-no it's because that's how it looked like it was written. You say pho-no. You don't say fawn-o.

- All that matters to me is that I know I've [expletive] got the greatest voice on the [expletive] planet.

- We played Radio City Music Hall. Best show we ever did. We had played it before but I didn't think the audience would be comfortable. But when we did it [in 2008], I never felt that good on stage. When we did "Ocean Rain" with the orchestra. And it was the best Bunnymen show. I never thought it could get better than when we did the (Royal) Albert Hall. But that night in New York was ridiculously great.

(Pontificating on the Velvets and Dylan, plus an unlikely favorite movie, after the jump.)

- "The Killing Moon" is the greatest song of all time. It's about everything. I knew when I wrote it, that it was the greatest [expletive] song of all time.

- People don't understand how [expletive] great America is. America has churned out some of the worst [expletive] music. But they gave us the Velvet Underground. Second best band of all time. I used to think they were first, but I've changed my mind.

- But also the worst sports. Baseball, [expletive] basketball. I can't understand basketball. The basket's too high! But at least it involves a ball. Even talking about baseball puts me to sleep. It's like cricket for [suckers].

- But getting back to America and why it is great. I think the television is [expletive]. But you've got some of the finest actors in the world. Not as good as Anthony Hopkins, of course. Have you seen "The Mask of Zorro"? Eh, not one of his greatest movies.

- All these [expletive] experts that think we're mellowing over the years. Nothing's [expletive] mellowing. I'm [expletive] madder than I ever was. But more focused. It's just a flimsy critique that's applied to everything.

- Dylan was one of the most underestimated singers of all time. ("Well he was always three steps ahead of everyone.") Well, he was actually five behind me.

- Shakespeare's even better than Bob Dylan and "The Killing Moon." Luckily he couldn't sing.

- Bob Dylan - don't you think he's written too many songs? Leonard Cohen didn't write too many songs. If Dylan made 20 albums of all of the best stuff, he'd still have another 20 albums of the best stuff.

- Have you ever met [Dylan]?
He's never met me. Have you ever met him? He's never met you. Do you want to meet him? Do you want to meet him in Liverpool? Because I'm the King of Liverpool. And he'll say, "Oh, I love 'The Killing Moon.'" And I'll say, "Well, it's the greatest song ever written." And he'll say, "Well, what about 'Love Minus Zero'?" "Yeah, what about it?"

- Dylan is someone to idolize, not revere.

- Do you hate James Woods as much as I do?

- The greatest film of all time is "Midnight Run" because it's about everything. It's "The Killing Moon" of films. It's about man's [expletive] nobility and indestructible pride.

By David Malitz  |  April 29, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags: Echo and the Bunnymen  
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Posted by: bluuhillsSKY | April 30, 2010 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Ian's favorite footballer didn't show up last night. Bad loss for Liverpool. They needed leadership from Gerrard, and he went AWOL. Oh well, there's always next year. The team only needs a new owner, new manager, and about five or six new players to challenge for the Premier League title. Sell Gerrard and Torres and rebuild from scratch.

(Sorry - I thought this was Steve Goff's blog.)

Posted by: Miles_Standish_Proud | April 30, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Saw Ian last Sunday. HIs voice was rich, gravelly and golden. Booze and cigarettes work for him.

Posted by: blue_trenchcoat_2nd_row_center_philly | April 30, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

the show at the black cat on friday was great - ian was extra mellow and seem happy for once - the show had a good vibe. he managed to last quite long before lighting up a cig. this video i took demonstrates his funny mood. or maybe he was previewing dc's new medical marijuana laws at the break before the encore...

Posted by: lucysun | May 3, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

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