Los Angeles – When Billy Idol hits the stage at Stubb’s at the South by Southwest Music Conference March 16 in Austin, he is sure to show some of those young whippersnappers how it’s done.
Idol’s performance is to promote his first album of original material since 1993’s “Cyberpunk.” On March 22, Sanctuary releases “Devil’s Playground.” Its first single, the “Rebel Yell”-sound-alike “Scream,” hit No. 7 on the Billboard Heritage Rock chart.
The rest of the album synthesizes Idol’s many styles, ranging from punk to rockabilly to straight-ahead pop.
For “Playground,” he reunited with longtime producer Keith Forsey. But he admits that some folks pressured him to pick a more current producer as a way “to update the story,” such as when Morrissey linked with Blink-182/Green Day producer Jerry Finn for his recent album “You Are the Quarry.”
“I think if it works and it’s right for you, that’s fantastic, but it can be the biggest mistake of your life to get rid of a friend who’s going to have your back,” Idol says. “As far as I’m concerned, this is really our lives in this record.”
Sanctuary appealed to Idol because, unlike other label executives who, he says, kept telling him “what a Billy Idol album is, and then I’d want to punch them out,” Sanctuary head Merck Mercuriadis simply asked, “Will you make me a great Billy Idol album?”
In the intervening years since “Cyberpunk,” Idol says he had many dark days, including ones when he questioned if he would ever make another album. “That thought would go through my mind, and I didn’t want to believe it and I didn’t want to dwell on it,” he says. “I had to prove it wrong, prove it to myself. It’s been so great to show that life’s not over. I have a few more years of kicking ass.”