If you’re familiar with David Bowie’s early music, and surely there’s not many people these days who aren’t, then you’re likely also to know the name of Mick “Woody” Woodmansey, who was Bowie’s drummer from 1970-1973, and was also a member of The Spiders From Mars. Woodmansey co-leads, with Tony Visconti, Holy Holy, a supergroup which plays the songs from Bowie’s early career. Visconti was Bowie’s longtime producer and bass player.
Holy Holy originally formed to play Latitude Festival in 2013, and have continued to tour around the world. They’re touring the UK in 2019, commencing February 8 in York, and winding up in Cambridge on Sunday, February 24. You can get tickets and further information here.
We’re immensely indebted to Woody Woodmansey for giving us the time to answer a few questions for us.
EP: You’ve just announced a new tour next year, 13 dates across the UK, with tickets on sale now. What keeps you touring, and who should we expect in the line-up? Any surprise guests?
WW: It’s who I am and what I do and I still enjoy playing live as much as I did when I was fifteen! Tony Visconti on bass, Glenn Gregory doing lead vocals, James Stephenson on guitar, Paul Cuddeford on guitar, Berenice Scott on keyboards, Jessica Lee Morgan on 12 string and saxophone. No surprise guests as of now!
EP: What’s the best part about performing with Holy Holy?
WW: Working with a group of great musicians and seeing the effect it can create on thousands of people!
EP: You’ve all played with other artists. what is it about Bowie’s music that makes you want to keep performing it?
WW: I think Bowie had an incredible ability to write songs that didn’t give you the whole story and left it up to the listener to use his own imagination to fill in the dots!! The first album Tony and I did with Bowie was ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, and for various reasons we never played that album live, even with David, and so now we’re enjoying playing this live.
EP: Back in 2015 we reviewed your album, ‘The Man Who Sold The World, Live In London’, and we felt in a lot of respects, the songs felt as though they were the instrumentals from the original album, they were very faithful reproductions. Is this something you’ve consciously decided? You might actually disagree with me entirely!
WW: From the start of Holy Holy I felt it was important to be able to capture the spirit of each song, how it was originally played. I think the closeness to the originals is almost incidental. We didn’t consciously try to stay true to the original.
EP: Since Bowie’s death, has your performance changed in any way?
WW: No, but we always try to play the songs with the respect they deserve.
EP: Do you find that Bowie fans are coming to hear you in a way of somehow capturing, or recapturing something of him, or do you have your own fans, your own audience coming to the shows?
WW: I think it’s pretty obvious they come to see and hear the music they first fell in love with, however we do get teenagers coming because they too love the albums but obviously never saw him perform.
EP: What is your favourite song to perform?
WW: Too many to choose from but possibly ‘Life On Mars?’.
EP: Do you feel it’s easier or harder to get along in the music business these days? What’s been the biggest difference?
WW: I think it’s harder, depending on your genre of music. There’s more importance put on the business side of things, years ago a band or an artist could be supported by a record company and may end up doing 4 albums before one actually sold well. Nowadays an artist has to prove he has an audience before he gets signed up and if his latest single doesn’t sell enough his career is in jeopardy.
EP: Finally – and this is a question I ask in every interview – what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does?
WW: ‘What’s so good about being a drummer!!!??’
Holy Holy features Woody Woodmansey, Tony Visconti, and Glenn Gregory, playing the songs of David Bowie dating between 1969 and 1973. Holy Holy launch their UK tour 8th February, continuing through 24th February. See here for tickets and further information.