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The lead singer of one of the brightest bands in the latest British musical invasion will be making his third Utah appearance, this time sans his former colleagues.

Ian McCulloch, whose commanding stage presence and booming Jim Morrison-styled vocals shaped the sound of Liverpool, England's, Echo & The Bunnymen, is touring in support of his solo LP "Candleland" - a radical departure from his earlier musical dabblings.The 30-year-old McCulloch will be appearing at Salt Lake's Palladium (1221 Simpson Ave.) Monday, April 9. The opening act will be Ultra Vivid Scene.

McCulloch - who quit the band in November, 1988 - calls his Echo departure and his subsequent solo career "the best decision I ever made in my life, except to form the band in the first place."

In a telephone interview from Chicago, Ill., McCulloch said he felt like the band had outlived its fresh spirit, and "was headed toward self-parody and cliche. I wouldn't say it went that far, but I could see it around the corner."

In fact, McCulloch calls the band's last album - 1987's "Echo & The Bunnymen" - "Bunnymen by numbers," and said the LP's recording may have been the most grueling experience of his career.

According to McCulloch, the album was actually recorded twice, "and it was still the worst album." He said that experience, plus the high-profile tour that followed, convinced him to quit the band.

"I didn't want to appear to need it that badly, to look desperate. (To take the) risk of doing another album that didn't have something special to me, might have killed me - I'd be in danger of never being able to pick myself up confidence-wise after that."

Freed from the baggage of his past career, McCulloch said he has begun to enjoy songwriting and recording songs more. "I'm enjoying writing in a different way. I do still have the benefits of other people's creativity, but I always come in with a song first."

Also, the outspoken McCulloch, whom British tabloids once tagged "Mac the Mouth," said he has mellowed from maturity - and from the birth of a daughter and two sobering deaths of people close to him.

First, McCulloch's father, Chris, died before Echo's last concert (Osaka, Japan) in April 1988. Then, Bunnymen drummer Pete DeFreitas - McCulloch's closest friend in the band - died in early 1989.

"I went on stage and kind of composed myself and did this gig that was very weird, very emotional," he said of the Osaka concert.

McCulloch said "Candleland's" songs and lyrics somewhat reflect that sadness. "They're not just words I need to remember so the band will know where the chorus comes in. I feel consummated now."

Despite his misgivings about his former bandmates Les Pattinson and Will Sergeant, who have decided to continue under the Bunnymen banner, McCulloch said he is playing Bunnymen songs on the tour.

"Most fans have liked the fact that it was warmer than the Bunnymen and stripped of the pompousness."

New York City's Kurt Ralske formed the opening act Ultra Vivid Scene in 1988, recording the band's self-titled debut LP by himself. His sound has been described as a cross between the Jesus and Mary Chain, Hank Williams and Miles Davis, whom he names as heroes.

The show will start at 9 p.m., with the doors opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 in advance ($14 the day of show), and are available at all Sound Off and Graywhale CD locations, the Stargazer, Smokey's Records and Tapes, and the Salt Palace box office.