Keeping Bowie’s secret was no fun
David Bowie’s long-time guitarist Earl Slick admits it was “no fun” keeping quiet about new album The Next Day.
Bowie shocked fans by releasing a new single, Where Are We Now? on his 66th birthday on Tuesday, and revealing details of his first studio work in a decade.
Now Slick, who recorded guitar parts in the summer of 2012, has finally spoken about the project he’s been desperate to discuss, saying that secrecy was built in from the start.
He tells Ultimate Classic Rock: “Oh yeah, right from the beginning. Because he didn’t know when it was going to be done. It was fun for a little while, but then when I started doing interviews, and after I got all excited after I finished doing the tracks and I was bursting, it wasn’t fun anymore.”
The secrecy rule even spoiled Slick’s enjoyment of breaks during sessions. “One day I went out to have a cigarette in front of the studio,” he recalls. “Something felt weird. I peered across the street, and there was a guy there with a camera on a tripod. So I put my cigarette out and went back inside – if they see me, they can put two and two together.”
But the toughest moment for him was when he sat down for an in-depth interview. He explains: “I had the cover for the Christmas issue of Guitar Player magazine. That was the hardest one – it’s a double issue and it stays on the stands longer, and they did a 14-page spread on me. I’m thinking, ‘I can’t even say anything.’
“Anyway, he appreciated that. I got a nice ‘thank you’ for keeping my big mouth shut.”
Producer Tony Visconti has said Where Are We Now? isn’t indicative of the rest of the album. Slick responds: “He’s let the cat out of the bag a little bit, then – good. It’s rocking. There’s a lot of rockers on there, I can tell you that. I mean, there’s a few kind of really cool mid-tempo ones in there as well, but I’m the go-to guy for the rock stuff with David. And that’s why I’m always there.”
The guitarist described the recording process with Bowie as “really relaxed, casual, hanging out,” adding: “I wouldn’t liken it any different than if we were just sitting in my living room – only there happened to be a recording machine in here. That’s what it feels like.”
Slick admits some of his plans for 2013 are on hold in case Bowie decides to tour. “Obviously, we want him to,” he says. “But right now that’s a big ‘if’. Sometimes he shows up and sometimes he doesn’t. I could get a phone call tomorrow saying, ‘Hey, you know what? Here’s the setlist.’
“Obviously the band would love to go out. Even if it’s not a huge tour, we would like to go out and do some gigs. But that’s yet to be seen.”