David Rhodes Archive
Bamboo Interview (Part 2)

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From Bamboo Magazine, Issue 7 (fanzine for the group 'Japan')

"A Special August Evening Interview - Part II " by Debi Zornes & Howard Sawyer  (you can read Part I here

B - What do you think of Propaganda? 

D - Ah - I like them, I'm just already beginning to feel that Trevor Horn sound is played-out.  I mean, it sounds great, but... 

B - We think they're better live, more powerful. 

D - Yeah, I can imagine that - less tidy.  You don't often hear a performance when you're not aware of somebody playing a brilliant guitar solo or whatever. 

B - Would you like to work with any of the ex-members on their solo projects? 

D - Yeah!! If anyone wants me.  I love playing.  Actually, on the '81 tour Blancmange were supporting - I've just done work on their third album. 

B - They were just starting off then - table and chair job. 

D - Mmm!  Oh yeah - it was quite funny - some of the Japan team didn't really get to know the support band and because everyone was new to me, I tried to get to know anyone who I bumped in to. 

B - Besides them, Peter Gabriel and Japan, who else have you worked with? 

D - Ah - Joan Armatrading...I've just done a funny little album with a guy called 'Fad Gadget', I was at art school with him and I did the LP last week.  I do enough to keep going. 

B - Besides the 'Turkish bath', were there any other funny things or running jokes? 

** Rhodes is laughing before the question is finished ** 

D - The little bus that we were in, there were four seats facing each other.  There was a video in the bus, but it actually only worked for two days, but I remember on the way to Cornwall, which was the first date, we were watching 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' - the first time I'd seen it, but I was in one of the seats NOT facing the screen.  In this bus there was a mirror opposite the screen in the roof so you could watch it if you were facing the wrong way.  Your brain can't figure out what's going on, it was all back to front - I still can't remember much about it!! 

B - But there were no practical jokes? 

D - Maybe this shouldn't go in the magazine!  It's really man's talk - but anyway... 

** We are all laughing now! ** 

D - Mick and Rich used to say it when we were going to a loo at a motorway stop or whatever.  I'd just go to a normal urinal and do my business and they'd go to cubicles and each of them would say this independently of each other - "I'm a cubicle-man myself". 

** Bamboo are in stitches ** 

D - It's one of this things when my mind's not thinking of anything else and I'm in a loo somewhere, I think "Yeah, I'm a cubicle-man too".  I can't get over it!  I'm sure you can print that - well, maybe you'd better check with them. 

** Rhodes is also in fits - none of us can stop laughing, the echo of the room lets us hear our "audience" laughing too! ** 

B - No! No!  Rich will just die if he reads that! 

D - Oh well do it then! 

B - Rich is really funny - he's got a great sense of humour.  What do you do when you're not working? (We look over at the torture rack. [They're referring to an inversion frame mentioned in Part I of the interview - ed.])  Obviously it's all this - hang upside down!  "Thank goodness that's over, now I can hang upside down!" 

D - Yeah!  Go down the gym, run, cycle...

B - You haven't got a car?

D - No, but I took my test...I did quite an interesting thing - I did an intensive course where you drive from every day, and then at the end of the week, on Friday, you take your test in the afternoon and I got it!  A very good thing for me to do - I did it not last Christmas but the one before.  I did it in the week before, leading up to Christmas and the Sunday was Christmas Eve so I managed to avoid the rush.  I did my shopping and then my driving, it was quite shattering!  I've never driven since.  I also, when I'm not working - I write love songs.  One day people will hear them.  (laughs)

B - Will you release an album?

D - I'd love to.  Again, it's just getting the material sorted out, getting organised and getting people interested.  It's actually quite difficult to get people interested if you're doing a number of other things. Record companies view you as being never available to do all the stuff they want you to do - promotion, tours...that's what companies would like. But if no major company is interested I'd be quite happy to work on a small budget - I think that's the great thing - the way the industry has blossomed. People will quite happily buy records that aren't on a major label.

B - Do you still get satisfaction out of continually playing other people's material?

D - People normally ask me to play with them because they know what I'm going to do or the kinds of things I'll do.

B - So you're given a free hand?

D - Oh yeah - with nearly everybody. The only people who actually handed me sheets of music that I couldn't read...actually, one was Ryuchi (we all laugh). He handed me this sheet of music and I went "Ugh!". I think I had to say I'd listen to it and learn it that way! I mean, I can read chord charts...

B - Ryuchi's had a classical training, so to him there's no piece of music that would be a problem to him.

D - Well, he obviously knew what he wanted and I kind of did what I wanted. But that's the way I work with most people, yo work to compromise. The other one was Joan Armatrading - but mainly her stuff was handing over chord charts. Most people, you go into the studio, they play the song and I play along with it.

B - Do you like Bowie?

D - Yeah, actually on the 'Serious Moonlight Tour' Gabriel supported him with the Tubes.

B - Who would you most like to work with?

D - I dunno...I like doing quite diverse things, the dance tracks with Blancmange. It was great to work with Armatrading for the discipline of learning those songs and trying to be creative within that structure, so really I should do more work...the main thing for me is that the music should be honest, so anybody who's doing their music honestly and creatively and with a bit of integrity.

B - So you won't be going with Wham! to America this week?

D - I doubt that very much! It's people who are making efforts rather than...

B - Making money?

D - Yeah. I still think of music as having quite a lot to do with art.

B - What would you do if you weren't in music, gave it all up?

D - I could get back into carpentry, I'm sure I'd make things.

B - Do you like Oldenburg's work?

D - Yeah, and the ideas and the drawing behind it. It was the first major exhibition I saw, Pop Art at the Hayward Gallery. I think it was '68, my father took me and I remember being struck by a soft typewriter, it was a nice material - plastic, with keys sewn on. It was witty and at that time it was really 'breaking down' objects. I actually quite like formal things - in fact...

** Rhodes springs to his feet and walks across to his bookcase, selecting various books. He's onto a pet subject and is utterly fascinating. He begins to ferry books back to the table talking about sculptors, flicking through books and showing examples. **

Now it's time to go, but not before David Rhodes suffers the fate of a photo session. We also sit in David's chair, very personal, it's moulded to seat him, "That's my bum there!" he says.

The finale is Rhodes jumping onto his bike and riding around his room, avoiding his furniture before coming to a halt against the wall.

Polite to the end, David Rhodes sees us to the door, shaking hands as we bid farewell to a very special person.

[Ed. - I only have a copy of this article and the pictures that accompany it are nowhere near clear enough to scan. This is unfortunate, as there are multiple images of David hanging upside down from his inversion frame, (smiling into the camera the whole time), as well as pictures of him in his apartment, showing off his bicycle. If I can figure a way to enhance and scan them I will do so.]               

 Thanks go to Craig Jennings for generously providing us with a copy of this wonderful interview!  

Thanks also to Paul of www.nightporter.co.uk for informing us of the identities of the interviewers!


Copyright 2004-2012 Stacey Drucker & David Rhodes