Roxy Music 2001


It's pure theatre darling
Reforming ROXY MUSIC is no different to reviving a Noel Coward play. But can they still put bums on seats?

JOHN AIZLEWOOD. Arena, July 2001
Photography Anton Corbijn

t must have felt like all your Christmasses had come at once?

PHIL MANZANERA: I think back to being a teenager in my bedroom in Venezuela, hearing The Beatles on the World Service and thinking this was what I wanted to do. I was the only person in Caracas with a Beatles wig. I love every aspect of being involved in music.

ANDY MACKAY: I'm just excited to be playing music with the others in the best technical conditions. We're in a wonderful position because we've got over 100 songs to choose from. The first time we ever got an encore we had to do 'Virginia Plain' again because we'd played all our songs.

Did you expect a lot of cynicism?

PM: More than we got actually. There's a lot of goodwill towards us. Although the cynicism is understandable, it's irrelevant to me. We're playing known songs to people who want to hear them: that's a fair contract. It's not as if we're going to foist new stuff on people: that would be dodgy. I wish Brian Eno had come on board, though.

AM: A few people have asked if we've just re-formed for the money: it would be very unconventional not to play for money. However, there wouldn't be enough money to make me do it if I wasn't enjoying it. I don't see any difference in us playing tracks off the first Roxy Music album to someone reviving a Noel Coward play from the Thirties or a Verdi opera. I don't need to justify it. If the audience leaves happy that justifies it, although if we enjoy it and the audience hates it, I'll settle for that.

Were you disappointed that Brian Eno expressed his disapproval?

PM: I haven't spoken to him about what he's said, but he's missed the point and misinterpreted us.

AM: Knowing Brian, I'm not sure he actually did say negative things. It doesn't sound like him, so I'm very sceptical. If he does disapprove, I'd say to him that I don't see anything wrong with people who did the originals re-creating them for people who want to hear them.

Will you travel together?

PM: Of course. Sometimes it will be a bus, sometimes a plane, sometimes small scooters and sometimes we'll hitch-hike, when hopefully we'll be arrested in a Peter Buck-style hitching rage incident.

Anything exotic on your rider?

PM: I should have gone for a Jacuzzi and heliport, but I forgot. Damn.

AM: I've demanded three different types of mineral water: Vichy, San Pellegrino and Evian. A man must have his perks.

What does being British mean to you?

AM: Nothing. Britishness is an artificial concept. People summon up this image of Britain including Scotland, England and Wales, but it's false, not coherent. I'm a European. What's the best thing about being British?

PM: That it could be a lot worse. In Bogota, if you're out after 11 pm you're quite likely to get bumped off. That doesn't happen in Hampstead.

What should be the new national anthem?

PM: Any Robert Wyatt song. He stands for credibility and reliability: he's heroic.

AM: I don't think there should be one, but what's wrong with the one we've got? Haydn liked it and it's absolutely fine. Perhaps there should be a competition to write a new one. Not that I'd enter it.

Bryan Ferry

How the Dickens are you?

I'm very well. No gout, nothing.

The best thing about being British?

I've always felt special coming from Britain because it's small, yet so many special things have come out of here. Certainly, I've never wanted to be from anywhere else. That childhood seaside holiday in full... Blackpool. It was baking hot and it was like going to the equator even though it was just a ride away on a train or a bus. It really felt like it was quite amazing-the tower and the amusement arcades and one of those scary laughing clown machines - which I remember being terrified of. I've always found clowns creepy.

A favourite British pastime?

Don't have one, although I'd like to take up bowls one day I think I have some somewhere. How do you cope with the weather? I like the fact that the weather's different every day. When I lived in LA it cured me of wanting perpetual sunshine.

What do you always buy that's British?

Shirts, I suppose. I like them with cufflinks nowadays. Byron complained how much of his life was spent buttoning and unbuttoning, but it gives you time to think and prepare for the more interesting parts of the day.

The one person that defines Britishness:

I couldn't imagine Evelyn Waugh coming from anywhere else. Or Cecil Beaton for that matter.

What could the British teach the rest of the world about sex?

Very little I imagine.

What song should be the new national anthem?

There shouldn't be a new one. It should always be the same.

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