David Bowie on Virgin Radio

by Dominic Mohan / Virgin Radio

June 2003

Dominic Mohan on Virgin. So on this show we have had Jim Carey, Rod Stewart, Sissy from Big Brother..it’s absolute chaos here as David Bowie knows because he is on the phone, are you there?

Yes I am.

Sorry about that

Absolute Chaos, I missed them, they are a pretty good band right?

They are a great band yes, up there with the White Stripes. So of course we gave out the wrong phone number to David Bowie, so he’s sitting there…where are you at home?

Yes I talked to a girl called Kathleen and she told me all about Wisconsin and the kind of stuff she does, and then I realised of course that it wasn’t the right number.

And you were through to a massage parlour.

Yes, that’s right.

Ok, I’m awfully sorry about that

That’s alright (laughs)

We are true professionals, you know I’m a journalist not a DJ (laughs).

No (laughs).

So how’s it going, so you are at home in New York yes?

Yes really terrific.

Weather nice?

Oh it’s fantastic its just the last couple of days but the rest of the year has been really really drizzly, like old London weather. You know like London used to be, I mean it’s all sunny over there isn’t it?

I know it’s something to do with the ozone layer I think.

Well you wouldn’t know you are in the studio all day.

Yes but I can see out of the windows.

Oh you’ve got windows that’s cool?

Yes we’ve got windows.

But its fathers day over here you know.

It is here as well.

Yes? (laughs).

And you are a father.

I am a father several times over but, er, this particular father’s day, my little girl is taking me out for lunch a bit later on so I am looking forward to that

Alexandria is that right?

Yes, I don’t know where she is taking me but she knows the area pretty well.

How old is she now.

Two and a half.

(laughs) two and a half, oh that’s very advanced then.

Yes, but it gets quite precocious in New York you know.

I’m sure yes, so where are you going, you don’t know where you are going yet?

I honestly don’t know, she is keeping it a secret

Oh right ok, so she has got her own account and stuff, she’ll stick it on the credit card will she?

Yes she’s going through clothes at the moment (laughs).

Good so we haven’t heard from you for a little while.

No, not too long.

And obviously the last album was a great success.

Yes.

So you are building on the back of that no doubt.

Well the deal I’ve got with my label ISO for Columbia is a lot looser than ones I’ve had before. It means that I can put out stuff whenever I want. I get really really frustrated because I write an awful lot and it’s very hard when you are sort of stockpiling songs not to be able to just put them out, but most of the majors really want a long sell off period you know before they put out anything else, but it’s pretty cool with Columbia so it looks like I will be able to do what I used to do which is like one a year.

So you are out of that corporate sort of structure where they have effectively got you by the balls?

Yes I’m really kind of an autonomous.. I’m an autonomous entity Dominic so I can virtually do what I want, which is great

Good so what’s this new album gonna be called and when are we gonna hear it?

It’s called ‘Reality’ and it will be out later in the fall (American accent)

That’s Autumn yes?

Which is like round about Autumn yes and there will be a tour coming up around the same time. In fact, I think we are announcing the tour today which is very exciting and it’s a world tour which I think is..it’s the biggest world tour that I have done since ‘Sound and Vision’ actually.

Wow, so what sort of venues is that, stadiums?

It goes from like big stadiums from forty thousand right down to about seven thousand I think, so its quite wide in some ways. It might sound like a lot but actually you can make that quite intimate, I find anyway.

So you are varying the size of the venues and stuff… ’cause the Stones have done that, haven’t they, on their tour?

Well I’ve done that for the last ten years actually.

So they copied you.

Yes they did yes (laughs).

So unoriginal.

I think I come to Britain around November, and we are doing at least Manchester, Birmingham and London and then we are moving over to Dublin… then all points East I think. We are doing the rest of Europe, Japan, Australia, South East Asia, New Zealand.

So do you look forward to that or do you still think ‘oh not again, here we go’?

It was so fantastic on this last tour. I think it was probably one of the best tours ever in as much as that I really felt free just to.. not try and do anything particularly theatrical but just interpret the songs that I write you know, and I’m really liking doing that now…so I’m kind of really looking forward to doing it on a bigger scale.

So where does that leave your family life, do you take Alexandria with you and stuff?

Oh absolutely yes, and I suppose its kind of a New Age thing but what we tend to do is get a house somewhere in the vicinity of the area that we are working and then I kind of fly back there each night.

But you only own one house don’t you, you’ve only got one place in New York is that right?

Yes that’s all, yes.

That’s surprising people expect you to have about six houses.

I just don’t.. I’m not a car man, I’m not a house man, I buy the odd cassette (laughs).

Eight track (laughs).

I’m not really a collector of things particularly

Are you tight then? Is that what you are trying to say?

I’ve tried really hard, I’ve tried buying cars but I used to keep running myself over with them.

Running yourself over?

I actually ran…when I was about nineteen I had a Riley Gamecock.

Pardon? you cant say anything like that.

It was an old racer from the.. you know, I think it probably goes back to the thirties or something and a mate of mine and me had put it together – not very well as it happens – and it stalled outside Lewisham police station one day. I had really long hair in those days so I was standing round the front of the car, trying to pump it back into life again and all the cops were at the windows laughing at me and the bloody thing started up and I’d left it in first gear and it came at me (laughs). The crankshaft went through my leg and I was pumping blood like a fountain and I broke both my, well I cracked both my knees as the bumper had kind of got me pinned to another car that was just behind it.

So you are probably best not buying any more cars.

It never really put me off driving though Dominic, I love driving, I just never get out of the car anymore. I just stay inside it.

You don’t like flying though do you?

I hate it.

So then does that make you hate the idea of touring and sort of flying all over the place?

It doesn’t help it, it doesn’t help it. I must say that we do kind of balance things out between a tour bus and a plane. You know, I gravitate towards the tour bus as often as not, which I really don’t mind ’cause I take a load of books with me. I certainly don’t mind downtime reading.

So you are still off the fags?

Yes.

That was a major achievement wasn’t it?

Oh blimey, that’s probably the toughest thing to quit in the world I would think.

What more than drugs and booze?

Yeah without doubt, it’s like the four hundred odd chemicals they put into it that are to keep you addicted to them.

How many were you on a day?

Well by the time I quit I was down to about ten which is pretty good but I was two packs at least a day – forty, sometimes sixty in the heyday.

Do you feel healthier for it?

Yes of course, but I mean I have always sort of, you know, I keep fairly fit. I’ve got a trainer that I work with about three times a week and I work on my own on the off days, on the alternate days.

Good, because I can’t imagine a fat David Bowie, it wouldn’t be the same would it, The Fat White Duke, you know?

No – tubby sometimes I imagine, when I’m sort of not training, but I’m pretty svelte at the moment.

So what sort of music are you into at the moment. We just played the White Stripes, do you like them?

Yes they’re ok, I tell you what they are a good live act. I had them support me a few times on the last tour and they were nice. I went to see Radiohead the other week and they were absolutely awesome. I adored the show…and I saw Coldplay a couple of nights ago, they were really good.

Good yeah so Radiohead.. it has got slightly dodgy reviews that album…that they have gone a bit up their own arses.

Has it? well what can I say. They will have a very very long career, because they are a very extraordinarily inventive band. I actually don’t listen to that much music on CD anymore, I much prefer live experiencing. I like going to see acts. I much prefer to see Strokes live than listen to the album. I tell you who was the surprise the other night, it was Lou Reed. Lou was fantastic. He has stripped down his band so he doesn’t have a drummer and all that and he does a lot of schtick in between songs and he just talks, you know, and he’s very funny and witty and it was a great show. I really liked that.

So what do you do, do you go to a lot of gigs and you just sort of turn up?

Yes.

They don’t put out the red carpet.

No, I slink in, no absolutely not that’s the first way to be recognised, if you take a whole crowd of people with you. No, I just go on my own, or with Iman or with Coco or a friend or whatever and we just slink in round the back, you know.

Excellent, good, ok well look it will be great when you are back and I’m sure you can come into the studio and do a proper interview in person.

I’d love to do that yes

Good so the album’s called ‘Reality’ and that’s out Autumn, and the tour starts around the same time.

That’s exactly right, that’s very good.

Ok that’s to summarise it basically.

Very good.

Ok alright well thanks everso much for ringing and have a nice lunch with your daughter.

Thank you Dominic.

And make sure she pays alright?

(laughs).

Cheers David.

Mickey Mouse money.

Yeah she will take you to Macdonald’s or something.

Yeah I know.

Ok.

Tata mate.

Cheers.

Bye bye.

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