15 minutes with Bryan Ferry - Mon 18th Mar

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15 minutes with Bryan Ferry
18 March 2002

15 minutes with Bryan Ferry

One of Andy Warhol's more famous remarks is that in the future we will all
be famous for 15 minutes. The renowned Roxy Music singer and solo artist
Bryan Ferry is in Stockholm, staying at the posh Strand Hotel and is, like
an ER surgeon, giving interviews to the Swedish press on allotted slots,
chop, chop. Bryan Ferry is very polite and well-though, and thinks before
answering--so he's behind schedule. This, with a cold spell over Stockholm,
has rendered Mr Ferry's throat sore. So after talking to his manager and
changing rooms, Yours truly only has 15 minutes with a person who, defying
statement, has been famous for 30 years now.

When Q Magazine asked the readers to name the five best albums of the last
15 years, I voted for "Mamouna". Are you as pleased with "Frantic" as you
were with "Mamouna"?

- Oh yes, it's a different kind of record than "Mamouna", which was a
quite hidden and obscure album. This record is more direct, a different
flavour. I really wanted the record to be different than "As Time Goes
By". I just wanted a focused sound, very different from the previous
album. I thought plenty of electric guitars, which is a big change. We
started with the Dylan songs and it was very refreshing. It's been many
years since I have recorded a Dylan song, but I have always enjoyed
singing his songs because of the wonderful lyrics. The Dylan songs set the
tone of the record, it was very spontaneous, almost a band feeling.

With respect to "Frantic": why "Frantic?" What happened to "Love War?"

- We had lots of titles flying around. "Frantic" captures the mood of the
last days of recording and mixing it. We must beat the deadline for the
20th time (laughter) while also mixing the DVD of the live Roxy--all
before Xmas. "Frantic" was the title that stood out.

Please talk about the process of reworking the songs--was this a response
to the Roxy reunion?

- A response to the Roxy reunion? We had done a couple of things, then I
put it aside for five months to do the Roxy tour.

Yes I saw one of the concerts.

- Which one?

Copenhagen. A great show.

- Thank you. While I was away, towards the end of the tour I had a fresh
perspective. I wanted more of a rock sound and brought Paul Thompson in on
drums on a couple of tracks just to heavy things up a bit. I had extra
guitars added and four tracks were recorded at Earl's Court: "Goodnight
Irene", "Hiroshima", "One Way Love" and "Goddess Of Love". They added spice
to the record, making it a better album. It's quite long for me, beyond the
42 minutes, almost 50 minutes...

It's 47 minutes and 25 seconds.

- ...making it not too long. It's a respectable length and has extra fluid.
We spent a lot of time on the running order. It works quite very well

As I said, I saw you in Copenhagen and it was a great show. Are you
satisfied with the 50 dates you did with Roxy Music?

- Yes it was great tour from start to finish. I had such a good time to
the extent of the entourage and audiences making it electric at most every
night. It was great to tour with Andy [Mackay], Phil [Manzanera] and
Paul Thompson again. They and the other musicians covered any and all Roxy
periods equally well. We did a lot of the early material with plenty of
solos by Chris Spedding and the others. It was also visually satisfying. It
was the show I always wanted to do, with better lights and video images
and dancing girls. It was very entertaining. I sometimes stood on the side
just watching it.

Did you ever think you'd still be selling out venues at age 56?

- I never thought about. I probably thought that I would be on a desert
island at the age of 56 (laughter). I don't know something that's happened
is that I rediscovered the glory of live performance again. I am very
lucky to have success and a kind audience for many years. On the Roxy Tour
I was amazed that there were so many young people at the concerts

Can you talk about the irony of longevity and pop music? You have made
some classics, have you not?

- I do hope so. It's been interesting to do songs from the 30's. The
material is 70 years old, but still feels fresh today. I don't know...
When you deal with emotions that are always current they have a place.
Emotions are universal. One or two things have crossed my mind, nobody
ever covers my work. It felt great to showcase the early work on the tour.
I did not feel like a boring ex-rock star, it was a retrospective work
with music of high quality. We had a mixed audience, both old and young
people came. The musicians plus the audience helped us. There is fate in
the music. It bought a lot of spinoff effects. I completed this album with
sound of that audience ringing in my ears.

Does the creative process ever get any easier?

- Sadly no (laughter) I wish it did. But it's still a great buzz when you
get great things done right, things you have done not before.

Considering how popular "Carrickfergus" was on your ATGB tour, would you
consider doing a album of "roots" works that have significance for
you? Not like the 30s and 40s pop tunes of ATGB, but perhaps more
blues-based numbers?

- I'd love to do that. One of my favorites on "Frantic" is "Don't Think
Twice It's Alright". It's a simple track, piano and voice, the song nicely
laid bare and depending on the singing. Usually I am quite well known for
the complete arrangements I have nothing better to do, lots of elaborate
work (laughter). I enjoy that.

Do you have any more plans to write with Eno?

- Well I don't anticipate any more plans, but I am sure we will do
something again some day. It was a very enjoying experience. In fact he
telephoned my office today and said that he loved the track we did. It was
great to work with him again. We only did two albums together with Roxy
Music. It's all possible that in the future we try to collaborate again.

Written By Daniel Atterbom

Thank you Colleen and Heather for the editing.

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