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Tony Visconti interview in Rock&Folk

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MessagePosté le: Dim 25 Oct - 12:08 (2015)    Sujet du message: Tony Visconti interview in Rock&Folk Répondre en citant

21 OCTOBER 2015

Tony Visconti interview in Rock&Folk

“I could make it all worthwhile as a Rock&Folk star”

In celebration of the release of David Bowie’s (Five Years 1969 – 1973) box set last month, the November edition of French magazine Rock&Folk, has an interview with super-talented producer/player, Tony Visconti, by Jérôme Soligny.
Obviously the interview is published in French, but Jérôme has kindly provided a portion of it in English exclusively for us. Over to you Jérôme...

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Whenever some big reissue is coming out, my first idea is to talk to the subject of the reissue. In the case of David Bowie, we all know now he won't talk so we have to come up with something else. Regarding The Five Years boxset, Tony Visconti and Ken Scott are the ones you want to talk to. Having translated Tony's autobiography in French, and after reading the liner notes of the boxset weeks before it was released, I already knew quite a lot about the making of Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold The World, two of the albums included in the boxset. Still, I asked Tony if he would answer a few more questions and he kindly agreed. Rock&Folk and I are proud of this as we know Tony didn't give much interviews this time. I guess, at least for France, it's an exclusive one! Also, in the same issue (579), Patti Smith, featured on the cover, gave me an exclusive interview. So it's quite an issue for me !
Here are 5 questions/answers in English taken from Tony's interview and please note that the first one finally didn't make the article (for space reason…) so it's exclusive to BowieNet ;-)

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    JS: You mention The Beatles in the first lines of the Space Oddity liners notes. Many Bowie fans often wondered how big a Beatles’ fan David was. Was he impressed by Beatles’ songs? Is it something he discussed and did he have a favourite Beatle at the time?
    TV: David and I were both Beatles’ fans. Most musicians our age were at the time. We lived in their shadow and always were in awe of them. A topic of discussion would be, “How did they make that sound?” Their song writing influenced all of us, especially coming up with “Beatlesque” chord changes. I know my favourite Beatle was John, and perhaps he was David’s too, after all, he eventually recorded Fame and Across The Universe with him years later. I don’t recall, however, that David said he had a favourite Beatle.

    JS: During these few months following the Deram drop, did David show signs of disappointment? Were there times when you saw him close to giving up fighting for his art and music?
    TV: After David was dropped from Deram he didn’t stay disappointed for long. He had other things in his life that he was pursuing, like his mime performances with Lindsay Kemp, his Feathers group with Hermione and Hutch and even romance with Hermione herself took up much of his time. I found him very optimistic, actually.

    JS: Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold The World are crucial albums in David Bowie’s development and can be considered as templates to what would happen with his music in the 3/4 years to follow…
    TV: They are very important albums. He was simultaneously learning new writing and recording techniques at a very rapid rate. He was forming his very complex style that encompasses many genres. You must remember he already had an earlier education in Musical Theatre (Anthony Newley, Lionel Bart) and Jazz (Stan Kenton, Gerry Mulligan) and Rhythm and Blues (early Blues everyone his age got in touch with and the earlier Little Richard’s commercial forms of R&B). Eventually he would feel comfortable throwing himself in to great albums that were extremely diverse like Young Americans and Heathen. If you represented David Bowie as a tree trunk you would need to have many limbs and branches growing out of him to display all the styles he has not only mastered but also created, spawning new genres of Pop music.

    JS: A lot has been said about Mick Ronson’s contribution to David Bowie’s music during these five years…
    TV: The Man Who Sold The World wouldn’t be the great “dark horse” album it is without Mick Ronson. He inspired the rest of us to rock out like we’ve never done before. I think both David and I knew we had to do something more dramatic and powerful for the next album and being introduced to Mick was our good fortune. Mick also introduced us to Woody Woodmansey. We quickly evolved into a power trio with the best lead vocalist in the UK. I know, not many fans agreed with us at the time but that was how we felt. I can’t understand how any Bowie fan would minimalize Mick Ronson’s role for this and the next 3 – 4 albums!

    JS: Having been a member of The Hype, the embryo of The Spiders From Mars, is one of the many achievements of your career. How did it feel to recreate this emotion in 2014 (and 2015) when you decided to join with Woody and friends to play The Man Who Sold The World again?
    TV: We are currently not playing the album exactly the way it was recorded, note for note. Glenn Gregory of Heaven 17, our vocalist of choice, puts a lot of swagger into these songs, more weight as a mature baritone, unlike the clear sharp tenor of a 23-year old Bowie. I’m really pleased with that, we never tried to come up with a Bowie clone as a singer. Holy Holy is very faithful to the original but we can’t hold back from evolving the songs further. To the credit of our guitarists James Stevenson and Paul Cuddeford, they are both Ronson experts and they have learned most of the solos exactly as Ronson played them on the record. I am so happy to be doing this because it is not just a tribute to a past album! We have played to thousands of Bowie fans who would shout in delight after each song, we have their approval. This was a worry before we played the first show, but with Woody and I in the band, the original drummer and bassist, I think we were expecting a lot of positivity from the audience anyway. For me, I just wanted to know if I still had it in me. I answered that question to myself, I do! The 2014 shows were really, really good. The 2015 shows in the UK and Tokyo, were excellent! As a band we are thrilled to be playing together and we expect to take the show on a tour of Europe and the United States. The Japanese have invited us back.

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Thanks Jérôme and Tony, much appreciated. The November issue of Rock&Folk, which also includes a review of Five Years 1969 – 1973 is out now.
Meanwhile, for the French readers among you, Jérôme has a lengthier review of Five Years 1969 – 1973 on his own site:

#FiveYearsBox #RocknFolk #TonyVisconti #Crueltobekind

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