Thursday, 16 April 2009

William S. Burroughs & David Bowie: (The Rolling Stone Interview February 1974)

Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman
Rolling Stone
February 28, 1974
by Craig Copetas

"....Burroughs: Politics of sound.

Bowie: Yes. We have kind of got that now. It has very loosely shaped itself into the politics of sound. The fact that you can now subdivide rock into different categories was something that you couldn't do ten years ago. But now I can reel off at least ten sounds that represent a kind of person rather than a type of music. The critics like being critics, and most of them wish they were rock-and-roll stars. But when they classify they are talking about people not music. It's a whole political thing.

Burroughs: Like infrasound, the sound below the level of hearing. Below 16 MHz. Turned up full blast it can knock down walls for 30 miles. You can walk into the French patent office and buy the patent for 40p. The machine itself can be made very cheaply from things you could find in a junk yard.

Bowie: Like black noise. I wonder if there is a sound that can put things back together? There was a band experimenting with stuff like that; they reckon they could make a whole audience shake.

Burroughs: They have riot-control noise based on these soundwaves now. But you could have music with infrasound, you wouldn't necessarily have to kill the audience.

Bowie: Just maim them.

Burroughs: The weapon of the Wild Boys is a Bowie knife, an 18-inch bowie knife, did you know that?

Bowie: An 18-inch bowie knife.... you don't do things by halves, do you? No, I didn't know that was their weapon. The name Bowie just appealed to me when I was younger. I was into a kind of heavy philosophy thing when I was 16 years old, and I wanted a truism about cutting through the lies and all that.

Burroughs: Well, it cuts both ways, you know, double-edged on the end.

Bowie: I didn't see it cutting both ways till now."

The full interview via 'Teenage Wildlife'


  1. Gee, I wonder how much coke was snorted during this int.