Boy George wants Culture Club fans to know he’s kinder and gentler than he was in the ’80s.
“I’ve become a much warmer human being,” Boy George says.
“In 1984, we went from tiny clubs, where we were being heckled, to stadiums in the course of a few weeks. We had a lot of extremes to deal with back then. Nowadays, I’m more comfortable with the role I have on stage. I enjoy it. With this age of the internet, it’s the one place you can be completely authentic and human.”
Still, Boy George loves that fans aren’t sure what to expect from Culture Club’s concerts. The band’s original lineup of Boy George, Roy Hay, Mikey Craig and Jon Moss performs Sunday, September 30, at The Pool at Talking Stick Resort and Sunday, October 7, at Desert Diamond Casino in Sahuarita.
“They never know what we’re going to do,” Boy George says. “Are we going to do a half an hour of our avant-garde pop period? Are we going to do the songs they know and love? It’s built to surprise people, to show people who we are now and how we’ve grown. I really enjoy it.”
Culture Club is touring ahead of its first album in 20 years, Life, which will be available October 26. In August, it released the single “Let Somebody Love You,” which Boy George describes as “very Culture Club – whatever that means.” Since its inception in 1981, Culture Club has sold more than 150 million records worldwide and had a steady stream of hits, including “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” “Karma Chameleon,” “Church of the Poison Mind” and “It’s A Miracle.”
The new track “Let Somebody Love You” was inspired by some of Boy George’s favorite books.
“I used a little magic realism in the lyrics,” he says. “I wrote it after reading Salman Rushdie books. The magic realism that he does really influenced the way I write.
“It’s about putting yourself into someone else’s character. I talk about how we’re attracted to people who are the worst match for us. I am fire and you are water kind of thing. It’s a love song, but it’s very complex and complicated. It’s not something you can avoid.”
Boy George also cannot escape being labeled a “trailblazer.” When Boy George and Culture Club stepped on stage for the first time in 1982, the frontman changed popular culture by shifting perception in music, fashion and art.
“When I was very young, I had the sense I had the right to be whoever I wanted to be,” Boy George says. “It was part of a rite of passage of being a teenager. I grew up with musicians who definitely changed the world; David Bowie and Bob Dylan in particular. People who had something to say.
“I wanted to be like them. More than ever now, because of the internet, you do have to struggle more to be different. On today’s pop charts, everyone’s making the same records.”
Boy George adds there is a “lack of soul” in what people do.
“We have a lot of great singers and performers, but who’s really talking about who they are as people?” he asks rhetorically.
“Everything’s very stylized. I’m aware I want to be an individual. I want to say something different. I’m very conscious of that. I don’t know if that makes me a trailblazer or complicated.”
When Culture Club plays Scottsdale, the band will be joined by Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey and The B-52’s. Boy George jokingly says ticketholders will need to have a lot of stamina to withstand the hits. Seriously, he’s happy to be on stage.
“What’s great is when you walk out on stage and there is warmth,” he says. “I just find the more personable I am, the more I engage with the crowd, the more fun we have. I think that’s really important.
“I know we live in an age where we’re bombarded with special effects and big-screen drama. In a way, that detracts from what we’re trying to say. It’s great to have special effects, but it’s more important to have substance, to have something to say, to express emotion and communicate with the crowd.”
Culture Club, The B-52’s and Tom Bailey, Talking Stick Resort, 9800 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, 480.850.7777, talkingstickresort.com, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, September 30, tickets start at $40.
Culture Club, Desert Diamond Casino, 1100 W. Pima Mine Road, Sahuarita, 1.866.332.9467, ddcaz.com, 8 p.m. Sunday, October 7, $35-$85.