INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
New Musical Express OCTOBER 14, 1972 - by Ian MacDonald
FERRY INTERESTING ROXY
Bryan Ferry stunning in gold trimmed black pyjamas and matching shades, greeted me from where he reclined, half-submerged beneath a heap of scented fanmail, on the Louis Quinze four poster of his private wing in an exclusive and secluded Swiss Health resort last week.
Having already scooped an unexpected and revealing tete-a-tete with Princess Grace of Monaco (recovering, in the adjoining suite, from a mild attack of Sovereign's Limp Wrist incurred through overgenerous acknowledgement of her subjects' homage), I was well set-up to take advantage of Ferry's incapacity by dissecting the Roxy Music myth with half-a-dozen deft strokes of that verbal scalpel which made me the toast of Bloomsbury in my younger day. I began by suavely enquiring after the condition of hisnewly amputated tonsils.
I feel fine, replied Ferry, evasively. I may never sing again, but I can't promise anything.
But how stands the wind, I enquired, for another single? He squirmed, visibly. I sneered.
We're not a singles group really, said he. I certainly don't want to find myself sliding down that Slade/T.Rex corridor of horror. We might release another one at Christmas, providing we've got strong enough material - I've got some numbers in the pipeline, and one of them might well make a good single eventually; it's a ballad called Beauty Queen and will be grandiose and heavy in the Walker Brothers' tradition.
Had he heard that his underlings in Roxy were plotting musical insurrection in his absence?
I'll knock 'em into shape when I get out. As soon as these crooning tubes are repaired, we're all going to be working like mad, putting together a short set of fast numbers for the States in December. It's a drag about this throat, because I'd like to have gone and done something in Holland and Belgium for a month. I see the album and the single are doing well over there. And I imagine we might score heavily in Paris... there being a certain chicness in our ensemble which the French would appreciate.
At this point, Simon Puxley, P.R. for E.G., D.F.C. and bar, entered bearing a bottleshaped burden bewrapped in burlap, and I realised it was going to be the dreaded champagne scene, again. Cardinal Biggles - the soft cushions! All my veiled intentions of extracting a confession from a spavined Ferry were thus thwarted and, from this moment on, things began to get silly.
I think the second album, announced Bryan, in reply to one of my last sensible questions, ought to be the same numbers in the same order as the first, but done in a different studio. The cover would be Kari-Ann one year older, and trying to adopt the same pose. And each year we'd do the same numbers, and the lines would start appearing on her face, and the times of the tracks would be a few seconds out. Norris McWhirter would start checking us for world records: This year they've got Re-Make/Re-Modeldown to two minutes forty five! How far can this band go?
Eno wants a press-release that says he's turning to sport - so that it'll emerge in the NME that he's quitting the business to go into training for the 1973 Commonwealth Games. Another idea is that, since Roxy have done all that could reasonably be expected, they should just drop the whole thing and go off and do something else - like climbing the Eiger. Or forming a four-by-one-hundred metres relay team, and a couple of trainers.
Yes, Ferry nodded, totally unofficial, and nothing to do with the British team - but much faster. We'd appear at special Pop Athletics concerts. The previous group would finish and then a starter would fire a gun and we'd all come belting on, tear across the stage, and off the other side. We would revitalise the youth of England make them stop spending so much of their time listening to music, and get into training instead. I think it'd be much more interesting if the NME ran a poll to find out musicians' favourite track and field events. He paused, briefly, to wink at a nice lady who'd just brought his lunch in for him. Or we could all take the cloth and become Italian bishops, Or bogus faithhealers. Do you want a banana, by the way? I can't eat these.
I've just been reading The Carpetbaggers again. I'm tipping Harold Robbins for the greatest writer of all time, including Shakespeare,. It's a terrific book. All human life is there. It ought to be - it's about three million pages long. Eno's planning to shave the top of his head till it's short and stubbly like grass then he's going to lay a crazy-paying path up the middle, leading to a cottage on the top. In my opinion, Ferry continued, one should be able to buy wigs made of soil so that one could grow rock-gardens on one's head. I'm renting a Steinway to go into my new flat. You must come around.
At this point in his tirade I decided to interrupt and enquire of musical matters. Bryan was sceptically poking his trout with a fork. It appeared to be still alive.
We have a number we've been doing in our stage-act which is called The Bogus Man. We had this great fan letter which finished, 'I like your encore very much. It was bogus'. I thought that was very funny.
Seizing at this slender straw I broached the subject of Roxy's live performances. Had their attitude to the audience, once distant and self-effacing, been altered over the months by the warmth of the receptions they'd been getting?
Very much, yes. Once, we started getting a bit of fan-mail and a few encores, we loosened up considerably, and I don't think were scared of audiences anymore. At The Rainbow we were getting fantastic feedback from the audience, and I really enjoyed it. Particularly Sunday night. There was a beautiful girl in the front row.