Tuesday 20 February 2018

ant beats the black dog

It might come as a shock to many people that sourpuss supreme Leonard Cohen has never been to a psychoanalyst. "Generally, very, very close attention to the inner life paralyses activity," Cohen said in 1995. "The conceptual system is generally imposed by fashionable therapeutic establishments: 'You should examine your relationship with your parents.' Why? They did their best."

Adam Ant – whose parents' tempestuous relationship broke up when he, an only child, was just seven – has been to lots of psychoanalysts/psychologists/shrinks throughout his tortured life and even has a song on his new album, denouncing them.

"You should never feel ashamed of madness," he said recently. And Adam Ant, the 58 year-old demi-god of pop who plays Dublin next month with his band, is not exaggerating for effect. His first album in over 17 years, Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner's Daughter, won't return him to the top of the charts like his heyday pomp but it will revive a certain interest in the tormented one-time superstar. ('Marrying the gunner's daughter' is old navy vernacular for being tied across a cannon and whipped until your back bled. It is possibly a metaphor for how Ant felt at the hands of the music industry.)

He was born Stuart Goddard in 1954 in London. He recalls that even before his parents' marriage broke up, he suffered debilitating hallucinations. "It was terrifying," he remembered. "Obviously, you don't need a shrink to work out what caused that kind of stuff. If your parents are very unhappy... well, you know that's going to happen. It was a bad do."

He attempted suicide by taking pills when he was 21; he believes it was not "a serious attempt to kill myself, but it was serious enough for me to draw attention to the fact that I was very unhappy in that situation, and I wasn't telling people how unhappy I was in that situation".

In the early 1980s, he became one of the biggest stars in the world with hits like Stand And Deliver and Prince Charming. But in 2002, he was sectioned in a secure psychiatric ward when, after having stopped taking his antidepressants and getting drunk, he threatened to shoot someone with a Second World War pistol after a row in a London pub escalated.

"I'd never broken the law before," he said afterwards, "I'd never even had a driving ticket. So you do the wrong thing. It was the biggest mistake of my life."

In 2003, Ant had an incident at his neighbour's apartment and was put in a psychiatric hospital for six months.

Ant, who is involved in the Black Dog campaign, which promotes a better understanding of mental illness, told BBC Radio in 2010: "Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It's the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with."

Ant had previously been brave enough in an interview with The Sun that year to say: "In the past I've been a robot. It's been an out-of-body experience. Bipolar means up and down and that's me... Music has always been the best medication. I was on sodium valproate for seven years.... I couldn't get to sleep and I didn't make love for seven years. My hair fell out and I couldn't pick up a book as I couldn't concentrate. I didn't write a song or pick up a guitar in that time – and piled on the weight. I might as well have been dead. I work very closely with my GP and any decisions I make are made with him."

It's great to have him back. He was in strident form on The Jonathan Ross Show last month, smiling and full of vim. Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter won't give David Bowie many sleepless nights, but it is a return at least, and hopefully the future will perhaps see him back to his best. "The album actually stemmed from the writing of Stand and Deliver, my autobiography. It's about me, about how I feel and how I see things. But it's also about how other people saw me," he says.

"There were times when other people were looking at me and saying 'pull yourself together, man. We're here for you.' So it's about them, too."

Adam Ant & The Good, The Mad & The Lovely Posse play Vicar Street in Dublin on May 5. Tickets priced €30 (including booking fee) available from www.ticketmaster.ie & Ticketmaster outlets nationwide.

Irish Independent

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