By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
You seem to be enjoying getting out of the laboratory and hitting the road again.
Recently the main feature of my life has been live performance, which I’ve embraced in old age. I‘ve been on tour for the last three years -- a lot like Bob Dylan’s “neverending tour” -- and it suits me quite well. I‘ve enjoyed seeing my audience again. It’s funny, as you get older, they tend to become much more appreciative and affectionate toward you. And it‘s rather nice, actually.
I feel much more energized about everything to do with my music as a result of having the courage to go onstage again -- and it takes a bit of courage to do it. Doing that ’30s album got me playing again with musicians in a live way rather than my rather solitary studio life, where you just sit there experimenting on your own like a mad professor.
What sorts of things guide your songwriting? And are you a disciplined writer, or . . .
Oh, I have to be dragged to it by wild horses; I find it very painful, very hard work. The tunes tend to come much more readily than the words; the words are a bit of torment, ‘cause I’m quite particular about words, and I love words. Which is why I love Dylan -- there are very few people who write well in pop music, and he is one of the few; Cole Porter was another person who could write words and music. I‘ve always longed to meet a great lyricist I could collaborate with. I’ve never been aware of any knocking about, but one day maybe I will, and then there‘ll be a great flurry of activity.
I’ve always gone back to T.S. Eliot -- we share the same birthday; he measures words beautifully. Scott Fitzgerald I‘ve always liked. And Evelyn Waugh, very amusing, a fantastic writer, really. John Donne, the metaphysical poet; Sylvia Plath . . . I like sadness, in writing and in music. It always strikes the right note for me.
Your records have grown increasingly beautiful. How does one address beauty in music or art without falling into the sappy and saccharine?
It’s a lifelong quest to search for beauty in everything, and I find it in all sorts of things. It‘s interesting, the whole thing of taste and beauty -- how does it form, where does it come from? I live through my eyes quite a lot; one of the great things about living in Europe is that you can go to Rome and see all these beautiful things. I like a lot of old things as well as new. I like history, and I like old buildings.
How would you assess your career arc? Does it tell you anything about how you’re evolving as an artist or as a person?
I‘ve got so much more I want to do, and I get a bit exasperated, really, not enough hours in the day. I love the touring life, but I want to start making something new again now. So far it’s been very interesting, and I wouldn‘t exchange my [recorded output] for anybody else’s, I‘m very pleased with it. I just keep wanting to add to it. And that probably says something about me, but how much about me, I wouldn’t know.
Bryan Ferry performs at the Kodak Theater on Saturday, November 23.