Secret, secret, never seen

David Bowie’s decision to record The Next Day in secret allowed him creative freedom without speculation from fans and the media, or from record label interference.

I think he’s reinventing the wheel. He’s in a world where everybody is Tweeting and Facebooking. He’s doing the complete opposite, and then he comes completely out of the blue with this thing. The silence is part of it. He’s letting the record come out, letting the artwork out, letting the video out. In his mind, those are the artistic statements – not getting on the phone with everybody and setting it up with all kinds of chatter. So I really think it’s just part of his aesthetic right now.
Gerry Leonard
Rolling Stone, 20 February 2013

The studio participants for the album had all signed non-disclosure agreements in advance of the sessions, which were conducted in utmost secrecy.

It was difficult keeping it a secret. It wasn’t anything sinister. David wanted it to be a complete surprise. Even his label didn’t know. The hardest thing has been the past two years telling people I was working on a secret project. They’d immediately guess, ‘It’s Bowie, isn’t it?’ And I’d have to fake ‘No,’ all the time.
Tony Visconti
Q magazine, March 2013

Rumours of a new David Bowie album were sparked in October 2011 when, in a bizarre coincidence, “Heroes” and Scary Monsters guitarist Robert Fripp wrote a blog post recounting a dream in which they had returned to the studio with Brian Eno.

Saturday 15th. October, 2011; 09.15


Bredonborough.

Rising from traveling adventures, in ‘planes and cars. Dropping off along to way to visit David Bowie, and it gradually appeared that David had some remarkable new ideas in process, not yet public. These he presented indirectly, to allow the penny to drop without prompting. Eno also got involved, and what a flowering of ideas!

Although Fripp’s words caused ripples of excitement among some fans, the rumours were clearly just that. But the story was resurrected after the announcement of The Next Day, when Tony Visconti claimed that Fripp had been invited to take part in the sessions.

Now one person did leak it, but nobody believed him…

Robert Fripp! He was asked to play on it, he didn’t want to do it and then he wrote on his blog that he was asked. And nobody kinda believed him. It was a little flurry for a few days, but everyone said, “How could that be true? We haven’t heard it from anyone else?”

Tony Visconti
Rolling Stone, 15 January 2013

Fripp, who had retired from the music industry, refuted Visconti’s claims, saying he had never been asked to play on The Next Day.

I haven’t spoken to David for quite a while, and I wasn’t approached for the new album. Not sure whether Tony thought I had been, but nothing ever came to me.

If I was asked to take part in this totally excellent project, who asked? Had I had been invited, in my current non-performance mode, it would have been a very hard choice.

My association with David and Tony has provided highlights of my life, not only my musical life. Lots of laughs and great music.
I would regret if anything negative, completely invented, were to query the reality.

In the creative world, when someone begins thinking, other people sometimes “hear” what’s going on. My NightWorld, or dreaming-life adventures, often involve those with whom I have been creatively involved. David, Eno, a lot Crimson characters, all contribute to my NightWorld. Who knows, on the subconscious – Unconscious levels, what gets “overheard”?

Visconti subsequently backtracked on the accusation, saying that he had misread Fripp’s words.

I skimmed over that blog and I took it to mean that David had contacted him. Actually, Robert was describing a dream he had. I made a big faux pas on that one. He had a dream, which was uncanny, y’know, some kind of message he received in his dream. But Bowie never did contact him.

One incident, however, nearly did blow Bowie’s cover. It involved Earl Slick in July 2012, during the final batch of Magic Shop sessions.

I’ve had a gag on since last May. David got in touch with me out of the blue, and he said, ‘I’m ready to go back in. What are you doing? Are you around? Are you touring?’ I said, ‘No, just get me some dates.’ We started banging dates around – and he was already recording – and I went in and did all my stuff in July. But do you have any idea how many interviews I’ve done since May, with this under my belt, which I couldn’t say anything about? It was horrible!

One day I went out to have a cigarette in front of the studio, and something felt weird. Cause I would hang out in the doorway, in a little alcove; I didn’t even walk into the street. And something felt weird, and I peered across the street, and there was a guy there with a camera on a tripod. So I put my cigarette out and went back inside. [Laughs.] Cause if they see me, they can put two and two together.

Earl Slick
Ultimate Classic Rock, 10 January 2013