David Bowie - A Reality Tour
The Press Conference Report & Transcript - Park Hyatt Tokyo, March 8, 2004
This was the place I have always dreamed of. I was in one of the rooms at the most exquisite hotel in Tokyo. There were 90 chairs in the conference room. There was a display of the Japanese Special Edition of 'Reality' with a special DVD of the Interactive Evening Live, which was held back on September 8th, 2003 in front, and also a table covered with milk white silk cloth. There was a bouquet of white flowers on it. There were two easels on the right side of the table, with two kinds of concert advertisement posters were displayed on them.
About 15 minutes before the start of the Press Conference, people occupied half of the seats. Almost all of them are Japanese, but there are also several people from overseas. All of them were writers for famous magazines, newspapers, and reporters for radio stations, TV, and so forth. There were many cameramen behind the seats, elbowing each other, anxiously waiting for the arrival of David Bowie himself.
In the conference room, songs from the 'Reality' album were played one after another. Every time one song was finished, the room got quiet momentarily, and I held my breath every time.
Then almost 10 minutes before the start, the presenter came to the left side of the table. She gave us instructions on the proceedings of the Press Conference, as it was about to begin. Soon it would start.
I was, in the third row, anxiously waiting for the beginning. At the next to my feet, there was a bouquet of flowers consisting of red and orange roses with pink and yellow ones, too. Even the flowers look as if they were waiting for the time to be in hands of the right person to be given to. There I had an MD recorder on my lap, and I was holding a small notebook and a pencil.
After the presenter briefly introduced Bowie's career, then, suddenly, David Bowie appeared from the right side. We welcomed him with thunderous applause. He was in his I.C.R & Deathkiller jacket and cargo pants, wearing a white T-shirt, wet with sweat. He looks as if he just came back from jogging like a professional boxer. In response to the cameramen, rapidly popping snapshots, he posed stretching his arms and legs so that we could see the logos on his clothes, which made it appear as some kind of fashion photo shoot.
David then sat down in the right chair at the table in directly front of us, with his interpreter on the left side.
The presenter then asked the cameramen to stop taking pictures. Then after they left, the press conference started.
Shortly after David sits down, I couldn't help waving at him with my left hand a little because I was holding a pencil in my right hand. And then, to my surprise, he waved back. 4 years had almost passed since I saw him at the backstage of Roseland in NY. I was so pleased to be re-united on such a prestigious occasion in Tokyo, Japan.
David greets "Good afternoon." in Japanese spontaneously, as all of us are waiting for cameramen to go out of the room.
It means "How are you?" in Japanese. Laughter reduces the tension in the room. Our smiles answer to him we're fine.
At first, the presenter directly asks David several questions.
Presenter (shown as P later on): "I hear it has passed about 8 years since you came to Japan last time, but has your impression of Japan changed?"
Bowie: "Well, luckily, I was able to get out about last couple of days and I really went to leave this kind of very skyscraper center. It hasn't changed that much, no. It's still absolutely delightful. I thoroughly enjoy being here today."
Bowie: "People used to dress well when I was here a long time ago, but now they dress even better."
Bowie: "I have brought fuzzy sleeves."
P: "Mr. Bowie is said to like Japan very much, especially Kyoto, but do you have any plan to visit Kyoto?"
Bowie: "I definitely will be resting in Kyoto even though I will be working in Osaka, but I only come this way not very often."
Bowie: "I've several friends who make it a really familiar place. They are kind of friends who take me out to the secret places even tourists normally don't see."
P: "This World Tour is long-termed and it starts from October last year to the summer this year, but how long before have you planned it?"
Bowie: "It was actually very quick. As soon as I finished my Reality album, I really decided that it would be probably time for me to do the world tour. I just haven't done that one on this scale for such a long time. We brought it together pretty quick. I'm so pleased to be able to have done it. It's such an enjoyable tour, so far. I'm having a good time. I hope you're having a good time, too."
Bowie: "May I ask a question?"
Bowie: "A lot of guys over here are dying their hair blond and white. Is that famous?"
Bowie: "There’s another thing to ask."
Bowie: "(Circling his left ear.) A lot of guys are also wearing like this, earrings. I thought it was plastic at first, but it looks like a kind of stone. It looks transparent."
P: "The songs of Reality were made to be played at concerts, but have you found any particular change by yourself since the tour started?"
Bowie: "I think that's always the case with the new material you're motivated. As you play it, it becomes more classic, becomes stronger. I'm really pleased by the way Reality songs work on stage. But I just emphasize in this tour I'm also playing lots from Heathen, and more from obscure albums, and enough, well-known songs, I think casual listeners would enjoy the show as well. So it seems hard for me to decide which songs to do, because there're so many albums to choose from, and I end up, have to just choose the ones I’m pleased to do. I hope that would fit the audience as well."
Bowie: "May I ask another question?"
Bowie: "When you buy the all-day subway ticket, can you go on all the lines of the subway?"
Bowie: "I found that it was 750 yen."
(It is actually 710 yen.)
P: "Is there anyone that knows the details?"
Bowie: "It's important!"
An attendant raises her hand. The presenter lets her talk with a microphone.
An attendant: "Is it the Oedo line?"
P: "I presume the one-day open ticket for the Eidan lines can only be used for the Eidan lines?"
P: "Let's ask Sony Music to check it out, and go to another question."
Bowie: "Ah…, on a 750 one, you can travel on Ginza line, orange line, Ah..."
P: "(In English) Clear?"
Bowie: "Thank you."
P: "What is the best thing to see in this Japan concert tour?"
Bowie: "I think you'll find it out that this is really a very strict-down show, very essential show, and it really isn't working with actresses at all. It’s really just about the singer and the band. And I’m so pleased and it was a big surprise. We didn't expect the way of interpreting the songs. Probably it’s the simplest way that’s done, and an interesting thing is that I find some thread of consistency in the albums released for the last 30 years. And it seems I have a style!"
P: "Then, I think I would like to receive questions from the attendants."
A Woman’s Magazine Writer: "I have two questions."
A Woman’s Magazine Writer: "(Showing the plastic bottle of Vittel to Bowie.) The commercial of this product is on air now in Japan, but please let us hear of the story behind the scene?"
Bowie: "Oh, so you have that commercial in Japan! That's a very funny commercial. It's a good way getting all those characters on the same stage at the same time. I also like the fact there’s humor in it. That convinced me it was a good thing to do."
Bowie: "And of course, Vittel is the only water I would ever, ever use."
A Woman’s Magazine Writer: "And, you have just talked about the secret places in Kyoto earlier, but please let us know secretively where one of them is?"
Bowie: "Oh, no! Then it won’t be the secret! I’ll tell you where it is after I've been there."
P: "Please ask only one question per person."
Bowie: "This guy."
A Radio Station Reporter: "Do you ever listen to songs of Japanese musicians? If you do, please let us know what artists you know."
Bowie: "You know, interestingly, also American and British songs I don't have much chance to listen to them either. I probably know few of the English and American songs. I don't have any chance to listen to any Japanese artists. I wonder the major problem I find is that there's such an overload of albums coming out every year. And you get to the point, you think, "I cannot listen any more," you know. And I think last year I was so concerned with my own music and working with the band, and listening to other music becomes the second thing, just unfair maybe. That's why it happens."
Bowie: "I think the Beatles will be big."
A Free Writer: "Nowadays, many songs of 70's and 80's are used for TV commercials and movies. What do you think of the situation as the social tendency? And, what do you think of the situation that songs in the past, as well as new songs, are used?"
Bowie: "Firstly, I encourage it for my music as much as possible. Because interestingly enough, and rather unfortunately, I think, but for many artists of my generation, it's very hard to be played on the radio, because there's so very much ageist philosophy in commercial radio. And so, for the very future artist, for the artist like myself, having music heart, and those commercials, is one way, and so it helps a lot the guitar one in front, so it helped people going for video albums, 'cause of that one commercial. So for me, it takes the place of radio. And interestingly enough, I think one of the things against it is why you would like to give something associated with the song. Ironically, 'Heroes' has been used for five completely different commercials for different things. And I refer anyone in this room to tell me which product is best associated with 'Heroes'."
Bowie: "May I ask another question?"
Bowie: "Have you been playing 'New Killer Star' on your radio station?"
A Free Writer: "Yes!"
Bowie: "My exception. Thank you. I deeply appreciate it."
Bowie: "Someone from the back, this gentleman here. Yes."
A TV Station Reporter: "Do you remember any Japanese words?"
Bowie: "Japanese words I remember... Tabako wo kudasai."
("Tabako wo kudasai" means "Please give me a cigarette.")
Bowie: "But I don't smoke."
Bowie: "Enough too, I find it very easy to travel around in Japan, especially in Tokyo, because much greater number of Japanese actually speak English these days. Even if we go further around, you know, I've been around for the last couple of days, not staying in the center, and going around, one thing which is always extraordinary in this country is that people are so willing to help you if you ask for something. If they can't explain, they take you there, you know. It has just happened two or three times here since I've been here last week. I've asked one particular sort of soba place to eat, you know, they did know how to explain where to take me to, and take my arm and actually take me there. And there's nothing comes to you well. People are so helpful like that. This is most extraordinary. Some character.
Bowie: "So, my sentences in Japanese are really awkward. And they end up like "Elephant doko wa desuka?"
(The correct sentence is "Zou wa doko desuka?" which means "Where is the elephant?")
Bowie: "And somebody grabs my arm, and takes me!"
A TV Station Reporter: "Where did you learn Tabako wo kudasai?"
Bowie: "That's the first one I've learned when I came to Japan back in 1973."
Bowie: "Ah! Kore wa cigarette, desu!"
(This sentence means "Oh, this is a cigarette!")
Bowie: "A little bit of more things to say, you know, if I would be here for another month, I'm sure I'll remember a lot more, you know, if you stop coming to the country, and using the language all the time, you'll forget very quickly. But it was interesting on the plane coming here, you know, "I remember nothing! I remember nothing!" And as the hours went by being in Tokyo, a little bit is coming back, you know, what I wasn't so sure about. I will be able to speak fluently."
Bowie: "And I would be talking with as much complexity as the statics of British sculpture."
Bowie: "Oh, no… this guy… this lady."
A Radio Station DJ: "Hi, my name is M. I'm doing DJ for (a radio station)."
Bowie: "Do you play 'New Killer Star'?"
A Radio Station DJ: "Yeah, of course!"
A Radio Station DJ: "My question is... there are a lot of people who have a fear of getting old, I think. You sang, of course, 'Never Get Old'. You seem to line up more like in new ages. What do ages mean to you?"
Bowie: "I think there's a certain age when we fear of getting old. I was really quite scared of getting old when I was in my 40's. It is quite a long time ago. It's now about 60. I think that you really do belong to an embraced idea of getting old. And you see, so many things we cared about when we began, slip away and slip off, and you'll have fewer and fewer of those, about what was important in your plan. And so I think it's learning to appreciate the destination of one's experience, and how that eventually becomes only one, two, three important things is rather disturbing because when you are young, things are so much important, including one's style. As you get older, you think, you feel less and less important, a part of them is very fundamental things: one of them might be love for one's fellow man, care for one's wife, care for one's family and friends, are so important like water. It doesn't really make any sense when we are young. I think one's important thing is one's career, and all the things you happen to know of...
A Radio Station DJ: "Thank you."
Bowie: "Sorry, I can talk for hours and hours. I'm really boring."
P: "I’m sorry, but the next question is the last one."
Bowie: "This gentleman."
A Music Magazine Writer: "(Showing a magazine which has David's picture on its cover to David.) We publish this magazine."
Bowie: "Oh, who is on the cover?"
A Music Magazine Writer: "You've always been seeking possibility of vision in media, but for the last a few years, it seems that you’re getting back to very simple song-writing, doing simple rock'n'roll based music. It’s conventional, essential, and very authentic. Now how do you feel about rock'n'roll music as medium to you now? If you were 18 years-old kid now, do you think you will do rock'n'roll music? Iggy Pop. He's going to do the concert next week in Japan. He’s getting back to very simple savage rock'n'roll. As an artist in the same era, and of course as a friend, what do you think of him?
Bowie: "Interesting. I cannot be personal at all. I cannot talk for Jim, I mean, Iggy. But for me, it follows quite closely to the last question. I think this is the time when you try and refocus on what you spend your energy for. And for me, it's been bringing essentials to what song writing is for me, and what to play on stages for me, and dismissing everything else. It probably meets getting for another period of fragmentation, but it's a kind of correcting myself before I break my own booth again, you know. Sometimes I think you can get to last some experimentation at such an extent that you can just recognize quite much understanding of one's art. And I wanted to come back to very fan-base, and work it out again from there. I do suspect that my future work would start to become more experimental. You know, it's a kind of habit. I think it's the psychiatric nature of my art. I do see my own road, and I do see I've been in the periods of being conventional again. And then I go back again. This way, forever I keep creating. It's like the lung of art. (laughs)"
Bowie: "And I think the other part of the question about if I were 18 years now, what I am starting again. I think that so much chaos is surrounding vertically every career these days. There is not any clear understanding on what one would most want do. It seems to be sense of pointlessness that awaits a lot of society. I think a lot of youth find it very hard to find exactly where it is that they are supposed to fit into this new rather terrifying world. I think maybe I would be going back to more spiritual kind of life. I think maybe I would go back to India like what my generation tended to do in the 60's, and it would be a very hard choice. Maybe I would be a monk that plays awfully good guitar."
And thus, the Press Conference ended.
David entertained us with his humorous speech, and impressed us with his profound words on his music and life. And it made a really meaningful Press Conference.
I'd like to finish writing this report, hoping that as many fans as possible would enjoy reading it.
And I’d like to express my gratitude to David for offering us such a fantastic occasion to listen to his speech in such an intimate atmosphere.