Ian McCulloch -- New Solo Album SLIDELING
  Ian McCulloch -- New Solo Album SLIDELING in Ireland April 25th on Cooking Vinyl

Heroes can be hard to find, but whoever we decide to put on a pedestal, we'll find the pedestal has three legs and one of them is a bit wobbly.

That's it! Exactly! That's how we should start the biog.

Okay Mr McCulloch, you're the boss.

Nobody's perfect, at least that's what we're trying to say in that opening sentence. Even the very great will make mistakes along the way. It takes a big man to 'fess up to that, and only a stupid one would deny it.

For more than 20 years, Echo & The Bunnymen have been striving for greatness, occasionally tripping over their long coats, but more often than not providing the listening public with moments of glistening pop brilliance. Now comes a new chapter, with the arrival of a solo record from frontman Ian McCulloch, his first without cohort Will Sergeant for more than a decade. As Mac himself says, there may be no Will, but there's a lot of willpower.

When the Bunnymen returned from the wilderness in 1997 with the hit album Evergreen, it was regarded by many in the know as the greatest comeback of all time. But no mere flash-in-the-pan was this; the Bunnymen had the audacity to stick around afterwards, delivering two more studio releases and the emotionally charged Live In Liverpool collection.

With the band on hiatus, McCulloch has returned to the studio and come up with a set of songs which, while not straying too far from the Bunnymen ethos, seem to have a more personal stamp on them.

I'm much more confident now than I was when I last did any solo stuff, suggests Mac. It's the first record I've made solo-wise where I'm happy with the reasons why I'm doing it and with the way it's turned out.

From the upbeat, eternal optimism of the opening Love In Veins, through anthemic jangle of Seasons, to the dirty strut of High Wires, it's the sound of a man who knows his time and place - and it's now, it's here.

Special mention should go to Slideing, possessing as it does a deceptive little hook that worms its way into your soul long after the song is over, the heartfelt Baby Hold On, which somehow manages to merge the worlds of Smokey Robinson and Lou Reed, the unsettling, shuffling semi-ballad that wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Bunnymen's Ocean Rain, and the lachrymose ode to Liverpool childhood that is Playgrounds And City Parks

It's all about me at school, always bein' late, always on detention, says Mac. It's about playin' footie until it's so dark you can't even see the ball, but knowin' that isn't the point.

I may be beautifying things a little, but to me it really was beautiful. It's a song about workin' class kids especially. As I've got older, I've got closer to where I'm from. But even at the age of 12 it wasn't just rock 'n' roll that gave me a thirst for life.

Anyone who's ever met McCulloch will know that he likes to talk, and one afternoon's conversation can touch many bases, be it the Liverpool poets (I love Brian Patten! At school I was always goin', 'Give me Patten, not Arthur f***in' Miller!), the notion of a dyslexic Frank Sinatra (I've Got You Under My Sink), or any other bizarre tangent How come historians live longer than history? You never see a young historian, do ya?.

But McCulloch is especially good at talking about McCulloch, and the fine music he's been making since his teenage years. He stresses that the new record does not mark the end of the Bunnymen: I'm looking forward to going back to the Bunnymen, and Will comin' to the table with a whole new bag of riffs, it's gonna be great.

Mac isn't alone in his fondness for the band. In recent months they have been ceaselessly championed by the likes of Coldplay's Chris Martin, and were given a prestigious Inspiration Award by the UK's biggest-selling rock publication, Q (Not before time! as Ian said when accepting the gong).

Initially I was a bit, if not cynical then certainly sceptical about it. It came out of the blue, but the more it sinks in the more I'm proud of it. It's as if people understood us all along, they understood our reasons for bein' who we are. It's kind of like a vindication.

We never did this for the money - I'd rob a bank if that was my motivation. At our best, we were always head-and-shoulders above the rest. In those days (1979-1988) we flew the flag of cool for so long in a world that was so un-cool. It was hard to carry on, so we didn't.

There's the old adage that life begins at 40, but in truth life begins when you realise just who the f**k you are.

Ian McCulloch is about to begin again.
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