Station to Station

Hear Geoff MacCormack talk about working on the album Station to Station with Bowie.

David writing lyrics on the floor of Cherokee Studios. Station to Station sessions, Cherokee studios, Los Angeles, 1975. (c) Geoff MacCormack


Transcript of interview:

Geoff: This is the recording of Station to Station. These two pictures here are taken at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles in 1975. The first one he’s sitting in one of his favourite positions and that’s kind of like a yoga position I think. And he’s writing some of the lyrics that would have been on Station to Station, and maybe those lyrics he would have cut them up and moved them around a bit. The other is David listening to playback, you can see the tape machine behind him with the metres on the tape machine. He looks quite reflective. He  wouldn’t have known I’d taken that picture. I had a long-range lens which was a fixed 200. The light was terrible in there, obviously. This fixed lens camera, I could be away from David and take a picture and he wouldn’t have known. Not that I had my camera on me all the time. If I had of done I don’t think I would ever have got so many pictures that I have. Honestly, I call them my holiday snaps and that’s how I treated shooting pictures of David, as an every now and again thing.

Interviewer: If it had been more common, if it had become a bit more of a formal practice in your mind, do you think, I mean how would that have gone down? Do you think he would not have appreciated that so much?

Geoff: I think that’s highly possible. I think it would have been very irritating to have a lens thrust in your face on every turn, no I think it would have been terrible. In fact, in many of these pictures he’s clearly playing up and enjoying the moment, or the moments.

Interviewer: Were these taken at night because he worked through the night a lot, he became a night owl?

Geoff:  We’d get to the studio at night-time or late afternoon, early evening and we would work through the night. Sometimes we would get there, and they’d have platters of cheese and fruit, buckets of beer and wine, and sometimes he’d go, I just don’t really feel like it and we just go back home or going to town or whatever. He worked really hard on every project he did and he put everything into it, but sometimes, he just went ‘I don’t really feel like it tonight’.

Interviewer: It’s a different energy around it, isn’t it. I guess because it’s recording. It’s really interesting to go from a tour and it’s all full of early energy of it all being so exciting and embarking on something. And he’s much more bedded into his career here and it’s just such a different energy. He looks much more established, it’s like his job now, it’s what he is, it’s what he does.  

Geoff: I think what it was, he was changing his hat so many times (no pun intended). He was kind of thinking on his feet. He’d get an idea and run with the idea and the idea would formulate in his mind and somehow he’d get there by just staying with it. It wasn’t an easy process at this stage writing new stuff because he’d changed his hat so many times and this, to my ears anyway, this was the birth of the Berlin trilogy. So it had that feel to it, so it was kind of where he was going. These things don’t come easily.  Because they’re so obscure it was unknown territory. Some days it was just too much to cross that creative barrier to actually go to work.