“After working in music for 40 years, I don’t regret one minute”
Bryan Ferry: “I don’t regret one minute of it.”
It’s been 46 years since your debut album. How does it feel to listen to the Bryan Ferry of 1972? It brings a tear to my eye, of course. Poor lad didn’t know what he was letting himself in for. Working in music for over 40 years, I absolutely do not regret one minute of it. I used to kind of resent touring because it was keeping me out of the studio. Now that I’m not making so many albums, the compromise is [that] I get to tour all around the world. Do you get nostalgic for the styles you rocked in that era? Fashion has been very much a secondary thing for me; behind it was always the notion that you made an effort to go on stage. You didn’t just drag yourself out of bed and get up and perform. I always thought you owed it to your audience to make an effort, in the same way Duke Ellington made an effort or Count Basie, or even the wilder ones like Charlie Parker. They looked their best and gave it their best. For the first year of Roxy Music, we were quite flamboyantly dressed and it was part of the adventure of that time; people walking down the street looked much more bizarre than today. We began toning down the act because we didn’t want to be known for our haircuts – we wanted to be known for our music. Who do you think wore the white suit better then – you or John Travolta? Oh well, it’s no contest [laughs]. He’s probably the better dancer, you know. When he danced with Uma Thurman [in Pulp Fiction], that was very good. Your other signature was putting models such as Kari-ann Muller, Amanda Lear, Jerry Hall and Kate Moss on your album covers. Would you do that again? I’m not sure. If there was an idea that presented itself, that I thought was interesting... I don’t know. I know I wanted the albums to look and hark back to a more glamorous time. They also turned into a series because they became identifiable: “Oh, that looks like a Roxy album.” Better than a bunch of guys looking uncomfortable standing in a back street, which most of the covers at that time were. How much nicer to have a fabulous looking woman. Are any contemporary bands reminiscent of the sound and style of Roxy Music? There’s an Australian band I thought were a bit Roxyish [and] who I really like called Tame Impala. They were on Jools Holland’s show [UK TV series Later… With Jools Holland] one time when I was on. They sounded great to me. You seem to be on a never-ending world tour with a Roxy Music-heavy set list… It’s kind of a retrospective show through the different periods of my work, with Roxy Music and solo. I wanted to do mainly songs I had written rather than covers. And most of the best songs I’ve written were with Roxy. So it’s a huge part of my oeuvre, a big part of my life. What’s changed for you most when it comes to performing? I’m not quite as fearful as I was. I’ve had enough shows now to know it usually goes great. Touring is less of an adventure than it was because I know how to do it now. Sometimes you miss the ramshackleness of the early days – but generally I prefer it now. Bryan Ferry tours Australia in February and March 2019. Tickets are on sale from tomorrow at frontiertouring.com/bryanferry and adayonthegreen.com.au.