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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 08:39 GMT
Talking Shop: Ian McCulloch
Singer and musician Ian McCulloch is best known as frontman of seminal '80s band Echo and the Bunnymen.

The group, roughly described as a post-punk/alternative rock outfit, were seen as exponents of "real" music in the increasingly superficial pop of the Thatcherite era.

McCulloch is now joining the Pringles Unsung initiative, a search for talented musicians who are overlooked by the TV talent shows.

Why have you decided to get involved in a talent search?

I was told they were looking for an established music figure who has taste, which is what I am.

Actually I was at an awards ceremony for unsigned bands recently. Looking back on it, I talked the whole thing down a bit too much when I should be more involved in listening to the new stuff coming through.

Why did you talk it down?
Ian McCulloch (copyright Tom Sheehan)
McCulloch has maintained a reputation for speaking his mind

Because a bit of me still thinks I'm 18 and just starting out and I don't want anyone else to be any good. But giving it a bit more thought, I really am desperate to hear new bands and I want to encourage new music.

Have you tried judging bands before?

No, just slagging them off. I ended up being associated with just having a go at any potential competition.

I don't necessarily want to be a judge or any kind of expert, I want to listen to stuff and hopefully find the things I like. It might not end up winning, but I if I find something I love, then maybe I could produce a few tracks for them.

You mentioned your fiery reputation, have you mellowed?

No, I just ran out of things to say about Bono.

In truth, being like that just made me feel more negative and cynical than I really am. I could come out with the quip and the putdown and so I did - it's a Liverpool thing. The problem is you forget to say the good things.

Is Unsung an antidote to The X Factor?

I don't like that comparison. It makes what we are doing sound like the same thing but with longer hair and electric guitars. The X Factor is a programme in its own right, whatever you feel about it.

Apart from being fun, what we are doing is worthwhile. Not every good musician is picked up by the press or labels because they often see what they want to see. I would love to find something that no-one else spots.

Are you really looking forward to all those demos?

Ian McCulloch
McCulloch feels he has attained legendary status

I will try to listen to them all - though not every second. If it's rubbish it's in the bin. So if you are rubbish, don't enter.

But there could be someone with a special voice but not necessarily a great voice. Or their could be a great drummer or lead guitarist - though not the best because we have got him.

How does the mainstream music scene today compare with when Echo and the Bunnymen were in the charts?

The big difference today is that with fewer singles being sold, a group's fan-base can get them to the top of the charts. If we got into the top 20 or 30 it was a total victory, but then we had the process of climbing the charts. To reach the top 10 meant you had a broad appeal.

Echo and the Bunnymen are still touring. Are you still enjoying making music?

It's still the best. I love it. We are signing a new contract and are working on a new album which is reminiscent of The Cutter period, very exciting and upbeat.

Do you feel like a bit of an icon to the fans?

I feel like a lot of an icon. Having been around for a while I think I have achieved legendary status. At least that's what they tell me - I just hang around Liverpool.

Ian McCulloch talked to BBC News entertainment reporter Greig Watson.

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