Elvis Costello wants fans to know his “battle” with cancer was hardly as bad as the press would have you believe. Costello, who'll release his latest album, Look Now, on October 12th, was forced to scrap a series of European gigs after undergoing surgery for, “a small but very aggressive cancerous malignancy.” Costello, who's now 64, told The Telegraph, “I don't need to go into the gory details but I just couldn't find that extra gear. I wasn't singing well. So I thought I'd better actually take my doctor's advice and get some rest. . . It was being reported like I was at death's door. All this 'battling cancer' nonsense is really disrespectful. I've got friends who are fighting a real battle, and to bracket myself with them would be melodramatic. . . Of course, news like that makes you take a deep breath. You are venturing into the unknown. But I was too busy to really think about it. I sang every note of the new record after I got the diagnosis.”
Costello was asked about how about half of the new album is written from a female point of view, and said, “I thought of it like folk music, where people sing across gender all the time and nothing is signified by it except the predicament of the character.”
According to the paper, the themes in the songs on Look Now could be seen as reflection of situations underlined in the current #MeToo era — yet Costello explained: “Some of these songs were written 25 years ago, which goes to show it's a problem that's always been there. The apparent power imbalance of man and woman hasn't been invented by putting a label on it. . . These are things I've observed happen to people, or maybe been part of, but I've taken myself out of the firing line in some respects. There's a little less selfishness, in that it's not just about things that happened to me.”
When the interviewer commented on how “he's come a very long way from his punk rock beginnings,” Costello said, “Thank God! You know I never liked rock. I hate to say this, but to me rock is a big square thing that fills stadiums with a really square beat and it has never interested me. Still to this day I have never heard lots of classic rock records. I've never heard Pink Floyd and never heard Led Zeppelin. People keep saying rock is dead. Well, let's f***ing hope so.”
Critics have long tried to categorize Elvis Costello's music throughout the decades. He told us that pigeonholing any type of art ultimately saps it of any originality: “All these labels — when they called it 'jazz,' originally, they weren't saying a good thing. Y'know, they were actually denigrating the music. They called it 'rock n' roll' — it was slang for something that was taboo, but it was also used to denigrate the music. Y'know, sometimes the labels that are attached to things are a way of confining it. When I started out, they wanted to say what we were doing as distinct from punk was 'new wave.' It meant nothing to me because I never identified myself with such an idea, y'know?'