Roxy front man flashing fewer sequins: Interview with Bryan Ferry - Sun 5th Aug

Roxy front man flashing fewer sequins: Interview with Bryan Ferry
05 August 2001

This preview is from Aidin Vaziri, Special to The Chronicle Sunday, July 29, 2001

Eighteen years after playing their last show together, three original members of Roxy Music have rejoined for a 50-date world tour. The show reaches the Chronicle Pavilion next Sunday. We spoke with the group's debonair front man, Bryan Ferry, 56, about clothes, reconciliation and former paramour Jerry Hall.

Q: What period of Roxy Music fashion are you going to revive for this tour - - the sequined cat suits or the military coats?

A: Hopefully the 2001 period.

Q: I think people would be disappointed if they came to a Roxy Music show and didn't see feathers and glitter.

A: Well, we do have three girls in the band, so maybe they can oblige.

Q: Are your platform days over?

A: Well, I think so. Occasionally, you might catch me in a cowboy boot with a finely tuned heel, but not the platform soles.

Q: The insurance company won't cover that one?

A: I think they might be a bit dubious.

Q: Do you still fit into all the old jumpsuits?

A: If not the stage clothes, I think I still fit into the music, from all periods. I found on my own tour last year that even doing things like "Virginia Plain," which was one of the more up-tempo or youthful of the songs, I didn't feel undignified at all. It's just good fun. I think it's going to be good. We've got some good people roped in. On the stage set, we've got people who worked with us on the first two Roxy albums.

Q: Are you going to re-create any of those racy album covers onstage?

A: Like a tableau? I'm hoping the audience will do that for me.

Q: I think the natural reaction when hearing Roxy Music is to take off your clothes.

A: That's true.

Q: Is that why you wanted this reunion tour?

A: No, but that's a nice idea. I had been on tour during the last year with my own project, and as the tour progressed throughout that year, I kept adding new songs from the old Roxy Music repertoire that I wrote a long time ago. I was struck by a) how much I enjoyed singing them, and b) how much the audience was enjoying it as well. That's what led me toward this.

Q: Did someone have to offer you a lot of money to actually make it happen?

A: We just needed somebody with a very positive plan to come along and say, "This is the tour I'm asking you to do." That's how it happened, and I'm very pleased, really.

Q: But why now?

A: Well, people saw that I was out and about performing again. There is a tremendous amount of goodwill toward the band and the music. I think because our last album, "Avalon," was also our most popular one has something to do with it -- that the band went out with a bang, not a whimper. I'm hoping that we will come back with a bang. Although the plan is only to come back with these concerts. There's no plan for recording as such.

Q: Does the reunion mean you'll also be getting back together with Jerry Hall?

A: Oh, doubtful.

Q: Are you not rich enough to be her friend anymore?

A: Well, I'm very happily married, so I think it's a nonquestion. My kids might have an opinion or two about that.

Q: Why wasn't Brian Eno invited to come along even though he was an original member of the group?

A: Brian was never really considered to do the tour because he doesn't have a touring life. I did speak to him three years ago about the prospect of doing some gigs together, just me and him, and he said, "Oh God, no. I can't possibly go onstage again." So I assumed that was a forever "no" kind of thing. But I do have great contact with him and a very cordial relationship. One of the songs on my new solo album, in fact, is a co-write with Brian Eno.

Q: Were there hurt feelings there?

A: There might have been, but I shouldn't think so. I've lost touch with him in the last year and a half while he's been in Ireland working with U2. So I haven't seen him for a while.

Q: Are you sure you can manage without him?

A: Oh God, yes. We'll be doing quite a large proportion of the first few albums. I like a lot of the songs from that time. "For Your Pleasure," the second album, is my favorite, really.

Q: Why did the band break up in the first place?

A: I suppose it was me being difficult. I'd just gotten married, and I didn't want the touring lifestyle anymore. And I wanted to experiment with working with other people. Sometimes the chemistry runs dry, or you need to do new things and you're curious to experiment with other musicians. You don't want to feel that you're joined at the hip forever to the same people. Now, it's interesting again.

Q: The chemistry is still there?

A: Very much so, yeah.

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