Details AUGUST 1996 - by Rob Tannenbaum


The intellectual pop star on why he's published his diary, women's bottoms, and which bodily fluid tastes like white wine.

One of the most frequent themes in your new book, A Year (With Swollen Appendices), is women's rear ends.

Brian Eno: [aghast] "Rear ends" sounds like a car. "Bottoms". Women's "bottoms".

Sorry, I didn't intend to denigrate them.

No, it's sacred.

Well, the book is striking, because you present a very different version of yourself than the one journalists see. You come off in the book as kind of cranky and churlish.

Yes. Which is true, actually. I didn't write it as a book, originally - it's a diary. Once I decided to publish it, I made a decision not to go back and clean myself up, because what makes people interesting is not their consistencies but their inconsistencies. You're all sorts of different people at the same time. There's this bit of you that you trade on - in my case it's Brian Eno: Intellectual Pop Musician - but that's only one of the many bits of me that are interwoven.

I felt a real sense of risk doing the book, and I haven't felt that with records in a long time. Records are a sort of debased form, too - partly because it's so easy to make them. The book keeps oscillating between very small observations - very irrelevant ones, apparently, like the size of ladies' bottoms-to big intellectual propositions. I didn't hide anything, though it was quite tempting. Some of it is so embarrassing. There's a lot of ammunition in the book for people who want to attack me.

You get idolised a lot more than you get attacked. Do you ever read your Usenet discussion group?

I did once, and I never want to read it again. It produced a feeling of revulsion in me. I ought to appreciate that people are interested, but on the other hand, what the fuck does it matter?

Do you get lots of e-mail asking arcane questions like "How did you get that bass sound on Through Hollow Lands?

I do get that. I'm close to fifty - I'm running out of time for this kind of politeness. Go get your own bass sound.

In the August 26 entry you mention drinking your own urine. Perhaps the book will change your public persona from Brian Eno: Intellectual Pop Star to Brian Eno: Intellectual Pop Star And Urine Drinker.

[laughs] Let's hope so. This will give them something to talk about on the newsgroups, won't it? "Does urine really taste like Orvieto Classico?" "No, it's more like a Sauvignon." I'm aware that a number of things in this book make me look like a jerk. I thought it would be great if everybody exposed themselves as being banal, dirty-minded, fallible, grumpy, churlish-as you said-as well as reasonable, clever, kind, and all the things we like people to think about us.

There's also a taboo you approach in the book about parenthood, that even if you love your kids, they are sometimes an irritating pain in the ass.

"I love you, but go away" - yes. [laughs] Well, one of the lines I was a bit nervous about leaving in was the other side of the spectrum, where I say, "Darla has the loveliest chuckle when you tickle her, sort of 'Stop it - but don't.' The chuckle men dream of?" Somebody could say, "Look, he's treating his daughter as a sex object and she's four years old, it's disgusting." And it's true - I was aware that this child is the beginning of a sexual being. Now that's quite different from saying, "Okay, so I'll rape her." You can do all sorts of things in your mind, and you don't have to do them in your body.