On Tuesday, January 8, David Bowie’s 66th birthday, the rock icon shocked everyone except for his inner circle by releasing a brand new song, his first in a decade, “Where Are We Now?” With that “a trademark tender, late-era Bowie ballad” came the news that an album is on the way as well, The Next Day, due in March. In the ensuing press froth, we learned from producer Tony Visconti that we should expect a mix of “classic” Thin White Duke and “innovative” Ziggy Stardust, and also that Bowie would never perform live again, and then that the thing about Bowie never perfoming live again wasn’t actually true:
I never said Bowie would never perform live again. Pitchfork made that up. He won’t tour for this album — that’s all I said.
— Tony Visconti (@Tonuspomus) January 11, 2013
Both Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter posted interviews with Visconti today that contained further clarifications and revelations about Bowie’s return. Both are worth a read, but we’ve pulled out the biggest highlights for your edification below. Please, don’t call us “Heroes,” though.
1) Bowie had to do it his way: “He seemed to be amused by the world kind of thinking he retired or was in ill health. It didn’t bother him at all. I think he was a little tired of having to make an album because it was in his contract to do another one in a certain time period. He just gave all that up. He just wanted to have a private life and think about when he would go back in the studio.” [via Billboard]
2) He started writing two years ago: “We’d been communicating over e-mail all the time and we’d meet up for lunch occasionally in New York. The last few times I met with him I saw a twinkle in his eye that wasn’t there before, which meant he was writing. I knew the call was gonna come one day.” [via Billboard]
3) Everyone signed non-disclosure agreements: “But that wasn’t necessary. We love him so much and everyone in the project except for a few were old timers — people who made albums or toured with him. So of course, we didn’t Tweet or put it on Facebook or even tell our best friend … I didn’t even tell my children what I was doing.” [via THR]
4) Bowie was in top form: “In the studio his stamina was fantastic. It was as if he never stopped doing this for a 10-year period. He was singing with every live take; quite often he’d play piano or guitar at the same time. And when it came time to do the final vocals, he was just as loud as he ever was.” [via Billboard]
5) The birthday release was Bowie’s idea: “He came up with that plan about two months ago and the countdown was unbearable. When it was finally released, I stared at my computer for 15 minutes until the first person realized it was simply dropped in iTunes.” [via THR]
6) The Next Day will be very diverse: “It’s not essentially totally a rock album: It’s a David Bowie album … Some songs are up-tempo and driving and some are completely far out. … A couple of new things people haven’t heard before on a Bowie album so he’s been very innovative on several tracks.” [via THR]
7) There won’t be any dubstep on it: “We actually were listening to a lot of our own records when making this album. We weren’t listening to anything current. We’re not very impressed with today’s music. And we didn’t have any guest artists, either.” [via THR]
8) Guitars, guitars, guitars! “We had his longtime guitarist Gerry Leonard and his longtime guitarist Earl Slick and his longtime guitarist — since 2001, anyway — David Torn … Earl Slick was the tearing-it-up lead guitarist, and then both Gerry and David have different versions of ambient guitar, very dreamy, washy kind of guitar sounds.” [via Billboard]
9) There will be strings: “We had string players come in, wonderful string players who play in Broadway musicals and things like that, and various other people. It was a nice, small combination. I’d say at most a dozen musicians were involved.” [via Billboard]
10) It will probably (not) change the world: “I’ve heard that we’re outselling Rihanna and that is wonderful. Not that I have anything against Rihanna, I love her dearly, but it’s like there’s something real now, and if this starts a copy cat trend, people might be making good records from now on. You can tell it’s a studio-made record, it’s not done on a computer.” [via THR]