While visiting Canada for last night’s Neil Young tribute concert in Vancouver, Lou Reed stopped by Q Radio earlier in the week to promote his new photograph book, Romanticism. Interviewer Jian Ghomeshi (who handled that confrontational Billy Bob Thornton Q&A last year) does a solid job at not getting rattled by Reed’s occasionally awkward silences, waiting patiently instead for the rock legend to add further musings on various subjects. You might think a talk with the former Velvet Underground frontman about photography, instead of music, would be frustrating, but the two art forms are actually quite related for Reed, which he explains at Ghomeshi’s request.
Though I highly recommend you download the podcast of the show here, as Reed’s voice and silences are intrinsic to his expression, here are a few teaser quotes if you can’t listen just yet…
Reed on how taking photographs is like playing guitar:
It’s exactly the same as far as i’m concerned. I mean, I don’t read and write anymore. And I can’t read a camera manual. I can’t read things that have long sentences, but I could look at pictures, or better yet if someone shows me something. Then I can do that. And there’s just feel, and that’s all that I am: feel.
On digital technology for music and photography:
A lot of people like really old pedals, old guitars, 47-year-old Telecaster[s], old this, old that. I like modern things. I couldn’t wait for them to come up with digital. Digital had my name written all over it.
There’s always a trade-off. Vinyl kills digital as far as recordings go. It’s not even close. There’s a clarity to digital. You’ll never have that warmth and pizazz that vinyl has. On the other hand, there’s a lot of information you can put into a digital recording and clarity and hear a pin drop five miles away if that’s what you want. The problem is you don’t want it to sound sterile. And then you end up with an MP3, the worst sounding thing one can think of.
On watching Andy Warhol work:
I watched him like a hawk. But it was pretty much always kind of the same. He was very loose about some things… The angle. Who actually took it. No one knows who painted what from him anymore. He’s probably laughing himself sick. And he would take other people’s photos and make them really great.
All he used to say is: “You don’t work hard enough. You’re lazy. You don’t work hard enough. What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you working harder? You don’t work hard enough. You’re lazy, Lou.”
Check out this full interview, which includes bits about his wife, Laurie Anderson, Reed’s strong opinions on gel-soled sneakers, and on how his camera has “been seriously toyed with” here (Q Radio also has a podcast with Feist).