Teenage Wildlife

Bowie Special Transcript - Galatz Radio

February 14, 1997

On February 14th 1997, Galatz Radio (in Israel) broadcast an interview with Bowie which took place in January 1997 in New York. Thanks to Cat, we have a transcript (which was translated from Hebrew over the top of David's voice, so apologies in advance for any missing snippets).

The interviewer is Limor Dahan.

Q: In one of your interviews you said the new album reflects who you are right now. What are you like now?

A: More in touch than I've ever been. I feel, eh--- somehow that I'm able to synthesise all my enthusiasms, eh, and they seem to have... They seem to be such a lot they kind of... I sometimes get lost in the things that I like. I get so immersed that I can't see where I am. At the moment I'm integrating all these things I like (?), visual arts, or theatre, poetry, composing music, all together into one situation where I think I can make the most of all the elements. And I just... Maybe it's my age. I just feel more in control [Indecipherable section] But it just makes me feel as though... It's the... It's like the joy of riding a motorbike or something. When you really know how to ride a motorbike, is kind of how I feel right now about the music that I'm playing, is that I really feel I know the machine so well I can make it do what I want to do, you know. And that's great. .

Q: In the 70's you were seen as a neurotic and detached guy, but since '83 the world sees a different man. Smiling, relaxed, excited about life. What caused the change you went through?

A: As is well known, I had such a dreadful addiction, eh, in the late 70's through... that was just the most awful period. When something as such a stupid... Well, not stupid because I don't regret it, because I survived. But that's the only reason I don't regret it. If I hadn't 've survived I would regret it. {Laughs] You know. But, it was like, eh... It was like taking a space flight or something, and the chances of you not coming back are very strong. The spaceship blowing up or something. It's like... But I made it back and... But I would never recommend to any of my children or anybody else to do it, because the spaceship can blow up. And that's the only reason I would not want to be [Indecipherable section] For an artist, I just... I'm more fulfilled now than I ever was when I was a young man, you know. I don't rush through life in the same way. I'm much more involved and, em, I find I derive incredible amounts of satisfaction from the process of making music now, rather than always thinking about the end results or... or... wanting to get some project out of the way because I had my eyes on something a little further in the future. you know, that kind of... terribly desperate ambition that you have when you're young... [Laughs]... often. Well, I did, anyway. And, and I never lived in the time itself. I didn't live in the now, you know. I guess maybe something that's happened to me as I've got older is that, eh, I really enjoy the day as it happens, you know, and... I feel a waste now is when I let a day go by that I don't really find the essence of that day, and enjoy the day for what it is. Rather than say, 'oh, it's a boring day! Get it out of the way!' You know. Now there aren't enough days to do that to. Each day is very important. Yeah. Really. And... Oh, you grow up! You know. You just grow up, I guess. I guess that's what maturing is. I guess that's what growing up is. I don't really know, 'cause I'm still this... there's still too much of a kid in me. I'm still... There's a lot of... I'm still a... brat.

Q: After listening to the album several times one gets the impression that if you took away all the intensive arrangements, and the compact production you're left with rock music that is more direct than what you've done in the past. The type of music you can play just with a guitar, bass and drums.

A: Yes. That's possible. I think what I wanted to do with the drum and bass, as much as it... it excited me in the hard core form, ah, I thought that what I could contribute to it was... I wanted to bring the aggression of hard rock to it. I wanted to do some kind of... 'Cause I've always dealt in eclecticism. I would take,... What I tried to do when I was a kid was expand my area of popular music so that it incorporated the other art forms. [Indecipherable section] And that's what music does. It creates a dialogue, but it creates it in an unconscious level. Eh--- And the thing with being a writer, I... I think, the most exciting thing is that, eh, you might have intentions when you write a piece of music, but the intentions always change by the time... They're never received in the way that you write them. And there's always something in the middle that neither you nor the audience really understand. And that's the bit that makes it exciting. that's the magic of the whole process.

Q: Where did you get the idea to combine rock and jungle?

A: I... Well, I... eh... I guess that it's just been the way that I worked. I mean, I've always been a... a... I now know that I've always been post modernist, but I didn't know that 'tll they came up with the term. [Laughs] It's... I've always worked in a late 20th century manner. --- It just always fascinated me to... to put disparate elements together. I just thought it was more interesting... I was influenced by the Beats. Well, not just them.. The Beats. People like... Samuel Beckett I like very much. And James Joyce, earlier in the century. But then more recently, people like, eh, Jack Keruack... [Indecipherable section] And it wouldn't occur to me to work in any other way. I see one thing, I've got to wed something completely different to it and see what happens. It's like, it's like having a Chemistry set. Sometimes it explodes on you, but [Laughs]. You've got to be very careful. You got to be prepared to have a lot of failures as well. That's a... I don't think... I think, if you want to become an experimental artist in any way, even in popular music, you have to be prepared to... to make a lot of foolish mistakes. Otherwise you can't... You can't really expand to somewhere interesting. And for every good thing that you do, there's gonna be a dozen things which are just crap.

Q: Do you consider anything you've done in the past as crap?

A: Musically, eh--- I don't want to say. [Laughs] I'll tell you what. I think there's music... I think there's music that... that is indifferent, which is... That's nearly as bad as crap. [Laughs] I think that it's the worst thing that a musician can do, is be indifferent about his music. And I think there was a period where I was. And that was around '84, '85. I'd be happy if I never heard these albums at all. [Indecipherable section] But I feel comfortable saying that there was, eh... There's something, eh, to be said of most of the albums that I've done. Even if it's not the entire album, there's always something on the album somewhere that made doing that album worthwhile.

Q: Is there a chance that we will ever hear David Bowie relaxed and making acoustic (?) music?

A: I did something which was not... was... was almost... as near to that as probably I'll ever get. The BBC commissioned me to do a program for them just recently, of ten acoustic songs. And, eh, I got together with Reeves and Gail (my Bass player) and we just did, we just got three acoustic guitars and did some old songs. And they sounded wonderful. I never thought that I would enjoy doing that. [Indecipherable section] And I believe that he's distributing that around the world. It will come on the radio. It's a nice program. I mean, I... I've even thought of maybe--- doing an extra four songs and putting it out as an album. You know. Something that, eh, people might like.

Q: What about an Unplugged program?

A: Well, this is as near as I've gone to one. It really is. It's probably more unplugged than most of the unpluggeds. There's no drum kit or anything. It's just the three of us with the guitars, you know. It's probably more authentically unplugged than the television program.--- Yeah. I would now... and the only... I think the only reason I accepted to do it is that Neil Young, eh, asked me to do a benefit concert for him. Neil Young has a... a son who is, eh... who has... ____ disease, and he opened a school, ten, fifteen years ago, for children with _____. And he supports it just from money from proceeds from the benefits that he holds once a year. And this last year he asked me to do a song with the band, so that I... [Indecipherable section] And it was all acoustic. There was Pearl Jam, myself, and Neil Young with Crazy Horses, all playing acoustic. And I only did it because _________, I have so much respect for him that I... [Indecipherable section] So I said to Reeves __________ and he said, you're kidding me. Have you heard our albums lately? [Laughs] So we started finding something that might work. We did the show and we did it over two days. There were two concerts, and we adored it! It was so great just being folky. [Laughs] It was really fun, you know. And, eh... eh... and, eh, I enjoyed it so much that every time anybody said, you know, do you want to do some songs on the show? I kept saying, 'can we do them acoustically?' [Laughs] Turning into a folk act. So, I kinda got the bug for it, you know. I really, eh... It's now, it's now something else that I feel that we can do. You know. Do acoustic stuff.

Q: How do you renew yourself, especially musically? How do you change from one album to the next?

A: I think, maybe, eh, as a... as... I've find that it's a family thing, It's not just me. It's... The cousin that I'm nearest to, Christina, who lives in England, eh, she's very similar to me. I mean, she's just so... curious. Curious to a fault. It's driven her through all kinds of religions and... I mean, she's exactly like me. She cannot refuse to investigate everything. And, and it gets us into such trouble. My son's the same as well. I mean, he's found his thing. I mean, he's, eh, he's studying Philosophy. He's taking his doctorate in Philosophy at University. He's kind of... He's making some kind of sense of the whole thing. [Laughs] [Indecipherable section] Everything boils into the very essence of where did I come from, what am I doing here, and where am I going? And eventually there's no more than that. And I think it, eh, eh, eh. As writers get older they find that the subject of their writing is easier and easier 'cause there are only those three things to ask--- really. And at this age we also know that they're unanswerable. [Laughs] That's the other thing. It is. Yeah. But it never ceases to fascinate. Bertrand Russell, one of the British Philosophers, said, 'we don't want knowledge. We want certainty. And that line I've always felt... was so true, when I was young. But now, I'm quite happy to say that I don't expect certainty, but I still want the knowledge.

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