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Apple of His Eye : Richard Butler leaves his beloved New York scene long enough to play Ventura with the Psychedelic Furs.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Ever seen “Midnight Cowboy”? Or “Taxi Driver”? Or “Escape From New York”? Now, who would want to move there, of all places? Wouldn’t you rather go to jail? Or eat dirt?

Not the Psychedelic Furs, that veteran British alternative rock outfit, who apparently number themselves among the few and the proud who actually love New York. Stranger things have happened, although I can’t think of any just now. Maybe the London scene is worse.

“There is no London scene--none at all,” said Furs front man Richard Butler in a recent telephone interview. “There’s really not much going on in England and I didn’t really enjoy being there. New York can be very addictive.”

Hey, but no “dese” and “dose” and no “Toity-toid an’ toid” Noo Yawk talk for Butler, whose group is coming to the Ventura Theatre on Friday night. It will follow opening act Ocean Blue.

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“I always hated people who would go to the States on holiday for a few weeks then come back with this (American) accent,” said Butler in an accent no one would assume was Brooklyn-based.

The Furs have been around for 13 years and eight albums, which is a veritable eternity by rock ‘n’ roll standards.

The latest is “World Outside,” perhaps their best effort.

There’s a swirling wall-of-sound guitar attack that Phil Spector would appreciate, punctuated by Butler’s droll nasal vocals that seem equal parts spoken and sung. He’s sort of a cross between David Niven and George Sanders.

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And Furs songs are instantly recognizable (on the rare occasion they actually get airplay around these parts), mainly because Butler doesn’t sound like anyone else.

“I don’t sound like anybody else, because I’m not anybody else, and I wouldn’t even try to describe our music,” said Butler. “Originally, I was influenced by people such as Lou Reed, John Cale and all sorts of people, really. I’ve always preferred vocalists to singers. Singers have great voices. Vocalists are more personalities. Bob Dylan is a vocalist; no one ever says he’s a singer.”

The core lineup of Butler, brother and bassist Tim, and guitarist Tim Ashton has been intact virtually since the band’s beginning. The other three guys have been as ephemeral as checkers at K mart.

This week they are Joe McGinty on keyboards, Knox Chandler on second guitar and cello and Don Yallech on drums. They’ve probably learned the band’s biggies such as “Love My Way,” “Here Come Cowboys,” “All That Money Wants” and “Pretty in Pink,” a film that helped Molly Ringwald as much as it did the band.

And now, here they are, all these years later--a band with albums, sort-of hits, fans and a big-time tour with Ocean Blue. They can even afford equipment.

“When we first started, we all thought we could never be in a band without a lot of equipment,” said Butler.

“All the bands we’d see like Genesis or Yes had just tons of equipment. But then these punk bands came along, and they didn’t have anything.”

The band’s name conjures up images of calico cats on hallucinogenics, but that’s not it.

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“I came up with the name in a drunken stupor,” said Butler. “You know, the worst thing about all this is doing these interviews. I’ve got about 15 of them just today. . . .”

If not the accent, Butler is, at least, getting a Noo Yawk attitude.


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