Bryan Ferry adds art to Roxy's rock - Fri 18th Feb

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Bryan Ferry adds art to Roxy's rock
Ross Purdie  AAP Entertainment Writer,

With no Roxy Music material recorded since 1982, Bryan Ferry has turned to his love of art ahead of the band's Australian tour.

Imprinting his flamboyance once again, the singer has designed a collection of graphic imagery which will be screened at the Roxy Music's indoor shows for the first time.

Visual art was the primary driver in Ferry's early life until he discovered the joys of making music in the early '70s with the band's principal members Andy Mackay and Brian Eno.

By combining style and sound, Roxy Music sparked a revolution in modern pop which reverberated throughout the decade and would later see them coined as the leading pioneers of 'art rock'.

But to Ferry, music and art only found their whole last year when concert technology enabled his songs to be represented in pictures while the band play live.

"Image and style are still very important to us," Ferry tells AAP.

"Obviously the song still has to work as an emotional piece of work first but it's great to present it in a beautiful way.

"I like it when we're the small figures on stage and this huge screen is projecting the visuals." Ferry's dreams of plugging the likes of Ladytron and Virginia Plain into his imagination have existed since the early days when fans flocked to his concerts dressed in the sharp suits he made fashionable.

The 65-year-old has described the process as like "making a movie in reverse". Instead of composing a soundtrack around a pre-written film, the songs came a long time first.

"In our case the music is the substance and the visuals are the colouring in," he explains.

A student of fine art at England's Newcastle University, as a young man Ferry always felt more qualified as a visionary than a musician. Ultimately he would become both.

Six Roxy Music albums throughout the '70s, including arguably their finest, Stranded (1973) and Country Life (1974) became landmark records name-checked by everyone from The Sex Pistols to Depeche Mode as key influences.

Remarkably, Ferry also managed to pursue a solo career from 1973 - incidentally the year Eno quit Roxy Music - a double life he's managed to juggle to this day.

Last year he recorded Olympia, his first solo album of original material in eight years which included collaborations with Scissor Sisters and Groove Armada and won solid reviews.

"I'm very blessed in that I have so much variety in my work," Ferry admits.

"This is a Roxy tour but virtually all of my solo band are in the band for this tour as well.

"The songs feel remarkably fresh, we're very fortunate because they all seem very current to me." The line up includes long-time members Mackay and guitarist Phil Manzanera, plus Olly Thompson, "a young brilliant guitar player" and Ferry's son Tara who plays drums in his solo band and plays percussion for Roxy Music.

Noticeably absent is Brian Eno, who continues to shadow Roxy Music despite the acclaimed producer having no part of the band for almost 40 years.

Eno played a cameo on Ferry's Olympia album but his presence was overemphasised as rumours spread that a full Roxy Music reunion could be on the cards.

"He didn't do a great deal on the album but it was great to have him there," Ferry says.

"The Roxy Music tour was more of a promise I made to the guys the year before that we'd so summer festivals, which went well so we went on to do some arena shows.

"I think now you can mix things up a bit more, there's a certain freedom in the air and you can juggle things around which you couldn't do in the old days." That freedom is unlikely to extend to a new Roxy Music album anytime soon. With no material in almost 30 years ago there's a sense the legacy of such an immaculate body of work should lie untouched, even if Ferry won't admit it explicitly.

"I'm not really sure I would," he wonders, as if the question has never been raised.

"It would be nice to maybe do a soundtrack one day but I don't see us writing that many songs together again.

"I have my own studio and I like working there with a lot of different people, but the idea of having the limitations of a band record doesn't appeal to me really."

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