Admitting he gets “bitter and pissed off” about being “marginalised” by the recording industry, Lloyd Cole has said his new album is his last stab at trying to “be a pop star.”

Released on June 24th, Standards will be the 52-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter’’s 15th album. Harking back to the classic literary rock sound of his 1984 debut, Rattlesnakes, crammed full of sharply turned and snappily delivered lyrical vignettes, Cole is bullish about it being his strongest work in decades.

“I have always written songs to make albums to try and be a pop star, and I think to say anything else is to be dishonest,” Cole tells Telegraph music critic Neil McCormick in a candid interview for Needle Time on Vintage TV.

“I feel marginalised. The music I have tried to make and the career that I have tried to build is not a niche career, and yet I am in a niche and I feel bitter about it sometimes. And I feel like I wanna break out of it. I know that, at age 52, the odds are against me but I am willing to give it a shot.”

Cole says he was inspired by Bob Dylan’s most recent album, Tempest, which was released to great acclaim last year. “I am conscious of having been maybe overly concerned with being dignified in my old age. And I heard that Dylan album and clearly he doesn’t give a damn about dignity and there’s a verve and vibrancy and energy from a 72-year-old man that I thought was quite astonishing.

“I just thought to myself, ‘what would happen if I just kind of let loose and not worry about whether it is appropriate to be making this music or not? And just basically follow my guts?’ And I did.”

When he first emerged in the post new wave rock scene in the early 1980s, Cole enjoyed immediate success with his band The Commotions, scoring four top 20 albums and a succession of hit singles.

Since going solo in 1989, the critical acclaim has remained but despite minor hits Cole has effectively become a cult artist with a small but devoted following.

“There was a point in the late 1990s where I got a little disheartened by my life, by the industry,” Cole admits. “I feel like I am still making records for the same potential audience that I was making records for in the 80s. But the reality of the situation is the industry has changed, the market has changed, everything has changed, and the returns are not really making the investments worthwhile.

“I haven’t done the mathematics but if we were to think about how much we put into making the records in the last ten years and how much we made out of them, it’s a net negative.

“The positive is coming from the fact that people still come and see me in concerts and people still play me on the radio. So this record is actually my last attempt to improve my foothold using conventional methods.”

If it doesn’t work, Cole suggests his only option would be to focus on his established fan base, and no longer release and promote albums as mainstream commercial ventures. “Commercially or economically, I’m sort of at the end of the line.”

The fiercely ambitious songwriter admits, however, that he doesn’t know if a marginal, cottage industry style career appeals to him. “If I were to become cottage, I’m fairly sure I can exist as long as I wanted. It’s just a question if I want to.”

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Publication: The Telegraph

Publication date: 11/06/13