The Passenger Story
Interview questions by Robert Webb 2005.
The Independent on Sunday
1/ I’ve read a quote from you in the book Gimme Danger about how you were walking around your garden and your ear was caught by the chord sequence you were playing. Was it an unconscious thing; a little like McCartney waking up with “Yesterday” going through his head?
RG/ It may have been partially hypno-pompic. It was certainly a case of the chord sequence ‘slipping through’ while I was ‘lost in the glory’ of a beautiful spring morning’. I heard myself playing in the distance. The strength, inherent in a round, arrested my attention and I registered the sequence for future use.
2/ What are the actual chords?
RG/ The chords are simple enough. It is a mystery to me why they had not previously appeared in that order. They are – Am, F, C, G- Am, F ,C, E/E7.
3 / Did you have other ideas for the riff, before you played it to Iggy, and what did he say when you played it to him?
RG/ When I was invited to join David and Iggy in Berlin, I did not realise that they needed material, so I was unprepared when they asked me if I had ‘anything’. My surprise was effectively covered when I recalled the aforementioned chord sequence and promptly played it to them on my unplugged Strat. David immediately liked it, Iggy was open and receptive at the time but I suspect it did not have quite the same impact as a screaming chain saw which is his natural preference, I think. None the less, he appeared the next morning with the completed lyrics andafter we recorded it, he seemed very pleased. I must also mention the fine contribution that Carlos Alomar made to the recording- a very nice man and a good musician.
4/ The song doesn’t move on from the circular chord sequence – no middle eight or chorus. Weren’t you tempted to write more?
RG/ I did not develop the riff prior to convening in Berlin and neither David or Iggy suggested any addition. It lives on unaltered.
5/ What’s your view on Iggy’s lyrics? Are they about Bowie?
RG/ I do not read anything personal in lyrics. I have no interest at all in the personal dynamics between people. We all have our personalities to deal with and I expect we all deal with it in our own way. Therefore, I make no judgement on the people’s personalities or their inter reaction. The main issue for me is the music-getting the work done – enjoying the recording. In general terms, Iggy displays a spontaneously vivid and fertile imagination which he puts to very productive creative use in the studio. This made the recording very rewarding.
6/ Tony Visconti has called you an “unsung hero”, and I take it you first met Iggy and Bowie via him. What’s your feeling now about your involvement with Iggy. Are you still in touch?
RG/ Tony is, himself, something of an ‘unsung hero’. He is very patient and yet decisive. He is always willing to try a new approach yet he doesn’t intrude unnecessarily. I am grateful that Iggy is still out there ‘treading the boards’ and apparently going from strength to strength.
7/ What do you do now?
RG/ For at least 10 years I have suffered from Electro Magnetic HyperSensitivity (www.feb.se ). I am allergic to most aspects of modern and not so modern technology. I spend time trying to find ways round my disability. I am aided by my wife composer/artist Virginia Scott.
8/ Also, can you give me release details for your album The Passenger, and a little more info on your own version please (beyond what I have gleaned
from your web site ): which I like very much.
RG/ We have two versions of the Passenger which were recorded prior to EMHS.
Ricky Gardiner 2005
Read more Passnger FAQ’s on the Beggars Opera Blog