It takes a lot to satisfy rocker Lloyd Cole 

British-bred rocker Lloyd Cole doesn’t mean to sound misanthropic, but he has a depressing negative to counter every positive in his three-decade career. They’re detailed on a comprehensive website he painstakingly built himself when he and his family first moved to Massachusetts in 2000.

“But it’s broken right now, as well as the web log area, so I can’t log in and I can’t change it,” he says, sighing. “And I don’t particularly like chatting on Facebook, either. But it’s kind of Darwinian. If I want to keep making music, I’ve got to survive somehow.”

As Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, the charismatic vocalist debuted with 1984’s “Rattlesnakes,” before flying solo with a definitive self-titled followup in 1990, which featured his slinky breakthrough single “Downtown.”

The most recent recording by Cole – who hits The City this week – is “Standards,” an album with brainy jangling songs such as “Period Piece,” “California Earthquake,” and “Blue Like Mars.”

Though it’s his best work in years, Cole, 54, is not seeing a rosy future. “I don’t intend to be touring or playing acoustic guitar when I’m 75,” he says.

These days, when the guitarist finishes recording an album, he’s exhausted. Afterward, he endures a fallow period lasting a year or more, where he writes nothing.

“You get to a point where you go, ‘Well, this could be it. This could be the end,’” he says. “But so far, there’s always been a moment where I pick up the notepad and start writing again. So there might come a time where I’m not interested in making music with words anymore.”

He finds the concept of legacy truly frightening: “Don’t get too attached to it,” he says. “I mean, you leave a painting out in the sunlight for a year, and it’s gone. There’s almost no medium for preserving stuff that will last more than 50 years. So if you’re a musician, the only hope of having a legacy is people not stopping liking you. Ever.”

An artist who’s not chummy with his online following, he was more comfortable when there was a pronounced distance between star and fan. He remembers attending a Buzzcocks concert at 16, and being horrified to see leader Pete Shelley wandering through the audience: “I thought, ‘That’s wrong. He’s my hero, I shouldn’t be able to say hi to him!’” he says.

Cole has sought consolation in other art forms, with zero luck. “I spent all of last week, just trying to find a decent TV show. I heard this British series ‘Broadchurch’ was good. But it was almost unwatchable!” he says.


Lloyd Cole

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Feb. 5

Tickets: $25

Contact: (415) 885-0750,

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Tom Lanham

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