Brian Eno is MORE DARK THAN SHARK
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INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES

Record Mirror APRIL 21, 1973 - by Val Mabbs

THE STRANGE WORLD OF ROXY MUSIC

The spotlight's on Eno, the crowd sit on the edge of their seats in eager anticipation of the soaring notes that are about to emerge from that frail figure. Bracing himself he reaches for his clarinet to add his contribution to the 1812 Overture. Eno? The 1812 Overture? What kind of bizarre Boxy-ish dream is this?

In fact it's no dreamed-up happening, just Eno's way of spending time between Roxy dates. Leaving behind that clutter of tapes and whirring metal he picks up a clarinet and allows his avant garde musical tendencies to bend with the mood even more, joining with the Portsmouth Sinfonia for a session of musical exploration.

Eno's wearing a '50s-style short sleeved patterned shirt, grey flannel trousers, and baby doll coloured tiers of eye shadow.. . yeh, angel cake eyes... as he sits explaining:

"Most of my ideas come from my experience in avant garde music fields, well I still work in that kind of field. The Sinfonia is a group of people, numbering about sixty now, some of whom have trained on instruments and others who have varying degrees of skill. Some, like me with my clarinet, have only been playing for about a month, others are of orchestral standard.

"We play popular classics like Beethoven's Fifth, Bach's Largo In D Major, the piece better known as Air On A G String, Peer Gynt and Hall Of The Mountain King. We give concerts, and there's such a wide disparity of skill that interesting things happen. There may be twelve notes playing where there should be one, and the whole violin section might be a bar behind the wind section... but it's interesting to me to see how unintended errors can convert a piece of music one knows well! It can be listened to as a joke or as a serious experiment."

To Eno, however, the venture is a serious outlet. Transatlantic Records are also taking the Sinfonia seriously, and will be releasing their first album.

When Roxy Music first hit the television screens with Virginia Plain, they were generally considered to be just another entertaining pop group. Their visual Impact was undoubtedly dampened by the medium, and it was only when the true depths of their visual and musical experimentation emerged that the group achieved the heights they have today.

UPRISING

Yes, Roxy make good - and different - musical sounds, but they're also way out ahead of a whole new cult uprising.

"We like interesting company," says Eno. "We don't tell the Roxettes how to dress, it's just that most of the people we know are interested in dressing in an unusual way, anyway. Quite a few of the Roxettes are old friends, but it has grown a lot. People who are in some way associated with us have always been of that bizarre inclination, and in a sense you could say we copied them. People like Sandra Rhodes and Janet Porter, and my girlfriend Carol McNicholl have always made their own clothes.

"It's the dress of the '30s and '50s that we're most interested in. The '50s because of the nostalgia, and also because it was really the first time that clothes were the product of a working class culture, and the time when teenagers began to develop their own fashions... that was a youth revolution much more than Flower Power.

"Before that the interesting fashions had come from upper and middle classes. That's where the '30s is interesting because of the sheer total elegance of the dress which has just passible again... that's somewhat reminiscent of the psychedelic desire for extravagance."

When we met Eno's hair had been dyed - courtesy of Smile - dark brown on one side progressing to a lighter shade of brown at the back of his head and lightening out to a blond patch over his left ear... a clear indication of the kind of extravagance that Roxy can now afford themselves. Eno says his clothes have always been "terribly feminine," and though on stage he can feel larger than life, he is essentially himself.

"Being on stage is a ritual for me," says Eno. "I don't connect it to normal life at all, it's a splendid kind of isolation. I feel increasingly more natural on stage... and the image that I'm projecting now is more of me. At one time I used to think that in photographs of the band I should look macabre, vicious, mean... but I don't need to do that anymore.

"After a gig I always feel incredibly high and full of energy," grins Eno. "I feel on top of the world and I want to be entertained grievously... I'm very Interested," he leers, finding great glee in "acting" out this little repartee. "In finding ladies with an inclination to bone therapy... ha ha, yes that's it. That's the reason that groupies continue to exist you know. They fulfil a need they are used and are useful.

WONDERFUL

"When you walk off stage you feel really wonderful and something just has to happen to you. That's the reason bands get into looning, backing Lincolns into swimming pools, that kind of thing. Being on stage itself Is outrageous and bizarre, and something outrageous has got to happen to you even after a bad gig. Whatever we do it's always a considerable expenditure of energy... and you pave some kind of response with the audience and an exchange of energies."

Certainly Roxy gigs - even the Rainbow which they didn't consider to be a great indication of the kind of reception they can receive - seem highly charged. There's an aura around the band... but an a more earthy level, the feeling that they are particularly well rehearsed.

"We don't spend weeks saying this Is going to be done just like this," says Eno. "We take maybe a week to rehearse and decide what numbers are going to be in and then I have to programme the synthesiser and make the tapes that fit in between numbers.

"After that we work on the choreography, with two considerations in mind. First of all we have to maintain a good flow of choreography, and as we perform a lot of different kinds of numbers the choreography is a way of maintaining the essence. Then the choreography develops when we're on stage."

"We haven't really worked hard in a sense," Eno admits. "We didn't spend years travelling round clubs, it just seems we did the right thing at the right time. We're the focal point of a whole lot of things that were happening. Though we're going to the States in August or September, the same things possibly aren't happening over there, in fact I think they're not."

Which just indicates how firmly the Roxymen have their feet planted on the ground, and sums up why their success has been earned. Their calculations seem as spot on as those laid down by Pythagoras when he juggled with the square on the hypotenuse!


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