Tin Machine gears up

by David Wild / Rolling Stone

5th September 1991

“Oh, good God, no,” says David Bowie when asked if Tin Machine II represents a kinder, gentler version of the group that consists of himself, guitarist Reeves Gabrels and the Sales brothers, Hunt and Tony, on drums and bass.

Instead, the members of Tin Machine say that their second album — and first for the new Victory Music label — is vastly different from their assaultively powerful debut because of where it was recorded — in Sydney, Australia.

“It had a big impact on how the record sounds,” says Gabrels. “One of the nice things about working there was that we could go out and have a cappuccino at a sidewalk cafe. The Australian attitude is really cool. No one would ever think to hassle anyone in the band. And that definitely affected our approach — there wasn’t as much pent-up energy, not as much of a mad-at-the-whole-world feeling. There’s a more introspective attitude and also a lot more acoustic guitar.”

“We opted to go someplace that most of the band had never been to before,” says Bowie. “I’ve always found that incredibly stimulating. If you can tap into all these initial feelings when you go to a foreign place, then I think it can often produce something that is very worthwhile.”

Tin Machine II — which the group co-produced with Tim Palmer — offers no shortage of worthwhile material. There’s “You Belong in Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which Bowie says is “definitely” meant as a put-down; “Shopping for Girls,” inspired by a Christian Science Monitor article written by Gabrels’s wife, Sarah, about child prostitution in Thailand; and a cover of the early Roxy Music song “If There Is Something,” whichBowie calls “an absolutely perfect Tin Machine song.”

Other memorable tracks include the aggressive “One Shot,” the first single from the album, and “Sorry” and “Stateside,” both of which prominently feature the soulful vocals of Hunt Sales. “It makes sense to mix things up a bit,” says Sales. “It’s just part of letting people know that Tin Machine is a group.”

As for the commercial future of the album, Bowie says: “I think the band would all love to sell a lot of albums. But at the same time we’re not going to deviate from what we do.”

“We’d certainly like to be heard,” says Gabrels. “But we’re not selling Big Macs. We’re selling scones. It doesn’t have to be for everyone.”

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