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Inside David Bowie’s New Album ‘The Next Day’

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"The Next Day" album cover reimagines Bowie's "Heroes." (Provided photo)

“The Next Day” album cover reimagines Bowie’s “Heroes.” (Provided photo)

Last week’s big Bowie news of a new album continues to unfold, as his producer Tony Visconti steps in and does a few interviews in David Bowie‘s place. We learn, among other things, that Bowie’s The Next Day (out March 12) is full of “uptempo rock songs” and was made over the course of two years at NYC’s Magic Shop Studios, with every person involved signing a non-disclosure agreement. Oh, and despite reports that Bowie will never perform live again, Visconti says “he hasn’t ruled out that he might do a show.”

Below, we’ve collected the most interesting parts of Visconti’s recent interviews, most of which are fairly repetitive.

Regarding the intense secrecy of the whole project, Visconti told The Hollywood Reporter, “We respected David’s wishes. Simple as that. We had to sign NDAs, 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. That was the hard part because people close to me wanted to know what I was working on, and I couldn’t tell them. I knew if I told one of them, somebody would leak it and it would be all over the world in a day. I didn’t even tell my children what I was doing.”

On playing live shows, Visconti told U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, “He doesn’t want to tour any more. He’s had enough of it. But he hasn’t ruled out that he might do a show. It was a relief to me to hear that he was open to that.”

Regarding the album’s melancholy first single “Where Are We Now?”, Visconti told BBC News, “It’s maybe the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him. It’s quite a rock album, the rest of the songs. I thought to myself: ‘Why is David coming out with this very slow, albeit beautiful, ballad? Why is he doing this? He should be coming out with a bang.’ But he is a master of his own life. I think this was a very wise move, to link up the past with the future, and I think the next thing you hear from him is going to be quite different.”

On the album’s more experimental songs, Visconti told Billboard, “There’s one called ‘Dirty Boys,’ and ‘If You Could See Me’ is extremely far out there — if anything, a bit jazzy. Bowie writes a lot of songs on keyboards now, and when he writes on keyboards he goes into this jazz thing which is quite remarkable. But he’s always had songs that have sophisticated chords in them. There’s another one, ‘How Does the Grass Grow,’ that’s very, very different, new Bowie, new-style Bowie.”

And on its lyrical themes: “(‘Where Are We Now?’) seems personal, but some of it is historical. He’s been reading history books, and we were having great conversations in the studio about, well, British monarchy for a start and stories related to them. A couple of songs on this album are about historical subjects. Some of the lyrics are blood-curdling, they really are — very, very strong lyrics about old wars, things like that. The title track…is one of the gorier songs. It’s kind of like a Hammer Horror film lyric to it, pretty gory. But I think David’s very multi-level; ‘The Next Day’ could also mean this is the new day or this is a new album, this is a new me. But I’m speculating.” (Billboard)

More on what it sounds like, and also Bowie’s distaste for new music: “It’s very diverse. 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. Some tracks sound like they would belong on Scary Monsters, others like they would be on Heathen, two albums that we made together, but that’s because it’s him. And 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.” (The Hollywood Reporter)

As for future Bowie albums, Visconti said, “We recorded 29 titles. We have at least four finished songs that could start the next album. If all goes well, we will be back in the studio by the end of the year. He’s back. Bowie has found out what he wants to do: he wants to make records. Nothing else.” (Telegraph)

And finally, on the 66-year-old Bowie’s health, Visconti shot down rumors of declining health keeping him from music following a 2004 heart attack: “He couldn’t have done two years of work if he was a sick man. He’s very healthy, he’s very fit. He had the heart operation and that’s it. He’s long since recovered from that.” He continued: “He is as sharp as a tack. He is sharper than ever. This boy has not lost a single brain cell.” (Telegraph)

So, any questions?

- Jillian Mapes, Radio.com

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