David Bowie and Robert Smith XFM Radio End of 1995 XFM recently found a conversation between Robert Smith and David Bowie. The result is an hour and a half of young jeezy albums discussion about life, art and music.
Smith: I have never felt the desire to live outside England. Mainly because of family, really…
Bowie: I am at exactly the opposite pole to you on all counts. I mean, I haven’t lived in England since 1974. That’s the last time I’ve lived here and I just haven’t had family that way. I have had my son but it has very much been the single parent situation and his life and now I have just started my family is really sort of beginning, including my son of course and Iman’s daughter – I am suddenly a family of 4 from nothing and it is really strange. So for me, in a way, it is a new beginning and I think, because of that, there is almost some kind of domestic need for me to come back to England and find roots again. I am enthraled by the atmosphere over here again. The last 2 or 3 years I found coming back to London really exciting very time I have come back.
Smith: That’s the difference. I lived in London for about six years because I don’t come from London, I come from down in Sussex and I moved up here because I just got fed up with sleeping on people’s floors basically. So I bought a flat and I liked it for the period I was here which was through the mid to end of the 80s but I hate coming back to London, I really do.
Bowie: But is that just a sense of boredom? Over familiarity?
Smith: I think there is a difference between London and England. Like, where I come from is almost too English – the Sussex coast – but it is good in the way that I travel round England. We stay in England. Obviously we go abroad as a group and we play and stuff, but everyone lives in England and everyone moves around England. We all live in different parts and we visit each other so you kind of get to see more of England that I think of as England rather than just London because London has become … Actually, travelling up here through London to get here today I had forgotten how awful it is. The suburbs of London are, like, incredible
Bowie: Tell me about it, because that’s where I grew up and the suburbs of London are…
Smith: And I was listening to ‘The Buddah of Suburbia’ – Good Grief! this is all too much for me!
Bowie: Its the greyness of it all, I mean it was a man-made Orwellian society ready cast in stone. I think all my generation just wanted to escape.
Smith: Its the look in people’s eyes. It is just so different. You just hit the suburbs of London and everyone looks terrified…
Smith: Its really weird. You drive up through Sussex and people are chatting at traffic lights and people actually stop when the orange light is flashing.
Bowie: But does that rural affability quickly turn to vehemence were you to do something that interferes with the actual neighbourhood?
Smith: I am not accepted at all but I don’t mind that. See, that is the plus side for me. In London it would be easier for me to go out and socialise whereas where I am I retain a sort of anonymity and a distance – not that anyone is really that bothered. I might get Italians on the beach with binoculars but the locals really haven’t taken me to their heart. I would be horrified if they had.
Bowie: Firstly, do you write for an audience ever in your mind or are you writing to satisfy your own need – because I will go somewhere else with that but I just want to clarify that first?
Smith: Crumbs.. I think that at a point which – I will think about it while I am talking – I probably seriously redefined who I was writing to which leads on to yes, I did at some point accept that I was writing with other people in mind. I don’t think early on… I don’t think one ever believes that one is ever going to be heard by enough people for it to really matter.