So, something very strange but utterly amazing happened. I’m not sure how she got hold of my number, but earlier this week I received a phone call from David Bowie’s legendary PA Corrine “Coco” Schwab. She told me that “Dave” had thought my 2006 review of The Kooks “Inside In / Inside Out” was the best piece of music writing he had ever read and that he wanted to grant me the only interview he would be giving to promote his new album “The Next Day”. So, last night with some trepidation I rang the number I had been given and waited to hear from the Thin White Duke himself. The conversation that followed was wide ranging and never less than interesting, it was everything I could have hope for and more:
Empty Page: Ground control, to David Bowie! Are you receiving?
David Bowie: Yes.
EP: Did you get the reference?
EP: So, David it’s been ten years since your last album, why the wait?
DB: Artistic paralysis. You see in 2004 two records came out that changed the way I looked at music. First there was “Fuck It (I Don’t Want You Back)” by Eamon, I thought it was so clever, so risky, so dangerous: I was in awe. Then, this girl Frankee came out with the song “F.U.R.B. (Fuck You Right Back)” and it answered the Eamon song. And they both went to number one! I couldn’t believe it, it was incredible, it was like what I’d been trying to do with Ziggy Stardust but a hundred times better, I couldn’t believe it. How could anyone ever top it?
EP: Do you think anyone has topped it yet?
DB: No, that guy Eamon was a one off. He combined the smoothness of R&B with the grittiness of hip-hop. He was like the bastard lovechild of Luther Vandross and Eazy E. Also, they stopped that pillock Morrissey having a first UK number one single, which was great, bloody great.
EP: Do you not like Morrissey?
DB: Nah, he’s a proper bell-end.
EP: Why do you dislike him so much?
DB: He stole my tour-bus. [Editor’s note this is actually true]
EP: OK. But, now you think it’s the right time for you to make a come back?
DB: I’d been waiting for Eamon to make his next move; I was waiting for him to follow up on that first song but a few months back I thought to myself “Dave, life’s too short, you can’t spend all your life waiting for Eamon, you’ll never top him but you can try, by God Dave you can try!”
EP: Your new album is produced by your longtime collaborator Tony Visconti, would you consider working with Brian Eno again?
DB: Are you asking me if I’d like my album, my album that has to compete with the likes of Less Than Jake and The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones to be produced by a man who chooses to work with Dido, Travis, Coldplay and U2… he’s turned into such a square, he’s a chump, a real chump.
EP: You mentioned Less Than Jake and The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones in relation to your new work. Does your new album have a noticeable ska-punk influence?
DB: Yes, in the same way I was influenced by the likes of Kraftwerk and Neu! when making “Low”, recently I have found myself deeply, deeply intrigued by the ska-punk scene. It’s such an expressive form of popular music, it’s so real, it’s got so much life: it’s the most vital music in the world. I went to see Reel Big Fish at the Tunbridge Wells Forum and there were these kids, kids probably a quarter of my age, they were the most extraordinary creatures, they wore these long, long shorts, they were magnificent. I bought a pair myself, a big pair of baggy denim shorts. I wear them everywhere. They give me so much confidence.
EP: Are you wearing them now?
EP: Are you feeling confident now?
DB: Very. Can see you how roomy they are? They give me so much freedom.
EP: David we’re on the phone. I can’t see you.
DB: Oh? Are we? Hmmm… Curious.
EP: So, what have you actually been doing these last ten years?
DB: Well, I have kept myself busy, it’s not like Dave’s been sitting on his thin white arse for the last ten years. I’ve been bringing up my daughter Alex and that’s enough to keep anyone busy, am I right? Kids, they’re great but I couldn’t eat a whole one!
EP: I guess so.
DB: But when I’m not looking after Alex I’ve been really into flash games. Bejewelled Blitz, Bubble Spinner, Robot Unicorn, I love ‘em can’t get enough of ‘em. You know why I’m not touring the new album? Temple Run 2, that’s why. I’m playing it on my iPad right now. You know what else I like to do when I’m bored? I like to phone up Bryan Ferry and ask him what his son is up to, I’ll say “‘ello Bryan how’s your boy doing? Oh, he’s in jail for throwing things at the Prime Minister? He’s a massive right-wing bellend? Mine? Duncan’s not up to much, just directed a couple of critically acclaimed multi-award award winning films”. Great banter.
EP: Speaking of great banter, your new single “Where Are We Now” is about your time in Berlin where you hung out with Iggy Pop. I bet you and Iggy had some top, top banter.
DB: Iggy was a bantosaurus rex in those days. Top lad. He’s a pain in the arse these days though. “Dave, Dave, come round and play Fifa, Dave, Dave lets go play knock and run.” Last week he got a huge box of fireworks, he thought I’d want to throw them at cars with him. For God’s sake man we’re in our mid-sixties! He’s a real nuisance to be honest. Oh bollocks, he’s trying to call me now; look I’m going to have to wrap this up now, sorry. Bye!
And that was that. David Bowie’s only interview so far in 2013. What a “Hero”!