Sinead O'Connor has always danced to the beat of her own drum. While it may be hard to figure her out personally, the fact remains that her music has struck a chord with a generation.
The Irish singer/songwriter started in the '80s with her first album The Lion and the Cobra to critical acclaim, then broke out to mainstream success with a cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U."
Her strong views pertaining to religion, women's rights and war have kept her in the spotlight.
Her new record I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss continues that trend with her lyrics and latest single "Take Me To Church."
Nunn called O'Connor in between recent Chicago gigs at City Winery.
Windy City Times: Hey, Sinead. I've been listening to you since you opened for INXS back in the day.
Sinead O'Connor: Wow, that's a long time.
WCT: Now, 10 studio albums later with I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss, is this a take-charge kind of record?
Sinead O'Connor: I suppose I hope so in some ways. I am trying to think of the best way to answer that. [Laughs] I hope so in terms of establishing the strength of a song writer and a live performer. I try to get rid of all the distractions around me when I am creating music.
WCT: Did you write it while on the road?
Sinead O'Connor: I did a fair amount of writing it on the road.
WCT: You have had difficulties working with music labels in the past. How was it this time out?
Sinead O'Connor: Genuinely fantastic. It is a completely different type of human being than any other record company I have ever dealt with. Usually you go down different territories and there are different record companies. Somewhere amongst the people you meet there is an asshole. I genuinely never met a person that works for Nettwerk that isn't an incredibly amazing person. Every single person that works for them is brilliant.
WCT: Did you come up with the treatment for the "Take Me To Church" video or did someone else?
Sinead O'Connor: I think it was sort of half and half. It was me and the director.
WCT: That must have been fun wearing all the wigs.
Sinead O'Connor: Yeah, it was fun. It was a bit scary as well. The best part was taking it off!
WCT: Would you ever grow out your hair again?
Sinead O'Connor: No; I like my bald head.
WCT: You have been on the forefront about the corruption of churches. How do you feel about them now?
Sinead O'Connor: I don't engage the church because I like to study theology for different religions. The ones I am most attracted to or against are Christianity and Hindu. My understanding of Jesus is my interpretation of what Jesus said as an anti-religious character. I think he turned up because God doesn't like religion. Jesus prophesied in the book of Revelation that there would be no such thing as religion.
There two important scriptures and one of them is in Revelation where it states, " I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple." The fact is to believe that church and religion will survive is in opposition to what Jesus taught.
While I like to study theology, churches and different religions my understanding of Christian theology is separate. Religion is an obstacle. Religion is the worst thing to happen to God and Christian churches are the worst thing to happen to Jesus because they are obscure in theology.
Churches are not going to tell you that because if you understood what Christ was saying you wouldn't go to church at all.
WCT: They would be out of business, then?
Sinead O'Connor: Exactly.
WCT: Was the song "Harbour" any connection to the Moby song you did before?
Sinead O'Connor: Nocompletely different.
WCT: The songs on the album seemed short and I wanted them to keep going.
Sinead O'Connor: Yeah, I am glad you are saying that because I wanted that. I wanted a pop album with everything to be three minutes long. I wanted you to have to play it again. That was the idea. You are not supposed to want it to end. That is the way it is with pop records. They are short and need to be played again.
WCT: Have you ever felt the group The Cranberries stole your sound?
Sinead O'Connor: No, I don't believe I have. We sound quite different, myself and Dolores O'Riordan [the Cranberries' lead singer]. I think that I am the bad girl and Dolores is the good girl. You got the sound but you have the good girl delivering it.
They didn't steal anything but we are all Irish so we have that sound.
WCT: Do you have any celebrity crushes?
Sinead O'Connor: I have always been a two-man woman, with Dave Chappelle and Robert Downey Jr. It's always been that way.
WCT: Good choices! When you played at City Winery last time in Chicago they passed gay marriage in Illinois and you said that's a good thing to celebrate before launching into a song.
Sinead O'Connor: That was cool.
WCT: How do you decide on your set list?
Sinead O'Connor: The set list I have been doing is decided on positivity. I am trying to defuse songs that have anything negative. I just want to rock out and sing songs that make me happy. That's how I decide, nothing miserable!
WCT: Are you bringing the same band as last time?
Sinead O'Connor: Everybody but the drummer and guitar player. They are different.
WCT: Are you doing anything fun while in Chicago?
Sinead O'Connor: I can't wait because we are all going down to Buddy Guy's Legends and hang out there one night.
WCT: I will be there to buy you a beer.
Sinead O'Connor: I don't drink it because it makes me vomit, but I will drink a coffee.
WCT: I will bring you some local coffee. Are you into the blues?
Sinead O'Connor: I am crazy about Chicago blues in particular. That is the kind of blues you can dance to. I'm obsessed and absolutely crazy about it. It is my favorite kind of music.
WCT: Are you going on to tour in Europe?
Sinead O'Connor: We are on tour at the moment. We are just coming to the States for two weeks in October then after Europe coming back in the springtime to the US.
WCT: You wore dark sunglasses when performing and stated you are shy. Are fans bothering you or something?
Sinead O'Connor: No, not at all. The fans are lovely. I think sometimes onstage I can be shy, I just recently have gotten over it and developed into a concert performer. I used to be extraordinarily shy. I was like a rabbit in the headlights. Last year I began to free up and develop confidence. I just needed to feel that I wasn't being looked at so that I could loosen up. I guess the shades helped for a year so I could imagine that no one was looking at me. Now, it doesn't bother me and I don't seem to need the shades. I always close my eyes when I am singing, anyway. I've actually been able to open them up recently. That was a bit of a crutch so I could rock out. I don't like doing it anymore because if you don't see the mic then you can bash your face into it or wind up breaking your teeth! [Laughs]
O'Connor is the boss at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph St., with tickets still available for the Oct. 19 show at 8 p.m. Visit www.citywinery.com to order soon as her two other dates have already sold out.
Look for O'Connors' memoir coming in 2016 by visiting The Healing Room at www.sinead-oconnor.com .