The set, Culture Club’s first studio album since 1999, was originally titled Tribes and expected to be released in 2016-17. The group even previewed new songs — such as “Different Man,” “Human Zoo” and the Johnny Cash homage “Runaway Train” — during live shows. But Culture Club ultimately decided to “record everything again,” George tells Billboard, “just to give the album a kind of continuity, a kind of feel.”
“I just feel that we’ve made an album that we’ve been trying to make maybe since (1983’s quadruple-platinum) Colour By Numbers,” George adds. “It’s funny when you say it sounds very Culture Club; We do often say that about tracks. But it just feels looser. It’s very catchy. The songs are really strong, really melodic. It just has an ease about it that I really like.”
Culture Club worked with the production team Future Cut on Life. The album’s first single “Let Somebody Love You” was released this week.
“I was going to use them for a solo record,” George says. “And then I sort of said, ‘We’ve got this Culture Club album that we’ve started and there’s some really good stuff on it. Why don’t we use these guys for it?’ and it turned out to be a really good decision because they’ve added this lovely kind of soulful flavor to what we do.”
“Culture Club has always been very eclectic musically,” he continues. “We’ve worn our influences quite proudly but we’ve never stuck to any particular theme. There’s always been elements of soul, reggae, rock ‘n’ roll. It all goes into the mix and it comes out and sounds like us.”
Culture Club will be playing “Let Somebody Love Me” and perhaps other new tracks on its upcoming North American tour with the B-52‘s and the Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey, which kicks off Aug. 3 in Asbury Park, N.J. The group has been touring regularly since 2015.
“We’ve kind of slowly but patiently been rebuilding our kind of live reputation and working towards making this new record,” George explains. “Really the best place to showcase music now is live. Radio is not necessarily helpful to a band like Culture Club; You get a few plays, but all of it has changed. The one place that hasn’t changed is live; If you can put on a good live show, that’s really where the fun is. It’s the only place where you can really be completely authentic.”
George laughs, adding, “I’m better now” on stage, but he does maintain that, “I feel like I’m more in control of what I do on stage now. Whenever I go on tour I always think, ‘Oh, I’ve forgotten what to do, I’ve forgotten what to say’ or ‘Will I be able to engage?’ And slowly it all comes back to you, like riding a bike or riding a horse, and I think it’s the same for everybody on stage. But by the time you get to the end of the tour you start all over again, really. It’s really practice that puts you in a really, really good place. You have to be out there to make it work.”