Julian is a man of hidden talents

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BIG INTERVIEW: Embrace frontman Danny McNamara

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Julian Cope is not like most people.

This is a man who strives to be ‘legendary’ while acknowledging that his chosen path may not be to all tastes.

And the garb you see him wearing in the picture next to this is how he typically leaves the house – Cope considers it an essential part of the role he plays as a rock and roller.

He was the frontman of post-punks The Teardrop Explodes until he quit them in 1982, before launching a solo career that has so far yielded 29 albums ranging from garage rock, to drones, ambient electronica and acoustic fare.

And he has also written two books on stone circles and ancient monuments, The Modern Antiquarian and The Megalithic European, as well as authoritative books on Krautrock and underground Japanese rock.

But most recently he has turned his hand to fiction for the first time – Faber and Faber recently published One Three One, subtitled ‘A Time-Shifting Gnostic Hooligan Road Novel’.

By turns self-deprecating and knowingly in possession of a well-functioning ego, he is also thoroughly charming.

During a 45 minute chat on the phone, just some of the topics we touch on include his love of Japan, the end of rock’n’roll culture, the metaphysical poets, how Shane Macgowan now resembles ‘a cadaver in drag’, his next album of drinking songs, the joy of playing with language, and meeting people at the local recycling plant in his full rock regalia.

And yet, when it comes to mainstream pop-culture – he has no TV – he says: ‘I think I’m just an ignoramus now. On my Peggy Suicide album, I had a quote from the San Francisco band The Residents on it: “Ignorance of your culture is not considered cool,” and I have become somewhat ignorant.

‘I just got to a point in the where you do have to choose.

‘But one thing I said to my wife a long time ago when I started to write books was that I wasn’t going to write just to fill a space on the shelf, they had to be what I consider essential.

‘I’ve been quite sneaky, I’m quite pragmatic – I tell stories that have never been told before, so in order to refute them someone is going to have to write a whole book themselves.’

And so he has finally come to fiction: ‘I figured that what I had to do, I have an enormous accumulation of ludicrous, crazy and extraordinarily off-putting dialogue from true situations which I’ve experienced.

‘And the only way I was going to be able to tell these rum stories was by... yes, naming people by different names, and technically making it a novel.’

Cope will be playing at The Wedgewood Rooms, where he promises it will be: ‘Me, a wah-wah pedal, an acoustic guitar, poems and some rum tales.

‘I think one of the things that’s important to recognise is how much rock’n’roll has changed us, physically – look at an early 60s TV show like Ready, Steady Go! Everybody’s sitting down clapping, it’s one step up from a Methodist church. Now we’ve been heathenised through the electricity of rock’n’roll.

‘I think part of my job is just to remind people of that.’

He is playing at The Wedgewood Rooms on Sunday. Doors open 8pm, tickets: £18.50. wedgewood-rooms.co.uk.