Tubular Bells III press conference

September 5, 1998

What do you remember about last nights concert - the black-out during Man In The Rain?

Somehow, the lights came back on and the vibration level had increased a lot, and at the end of Tubular Bells 3, the audience looked pretty stunned, you know? I was so busy bringing up the bells and hit the bell myself and synchronize the flame explosions and when we finished... well.. I asked 'did you like it?' and the crowd stood up and all starts cheering. That was the part I like the best <laughs>...the audience reaction. And after that it was a lovely concert! I espacially enjoyed seeing Richard Branson sucked through the skin <LOUD REAL EVIL LAUGH>. I enjoyed that!

Where did you find these musicians?

Most of them where recommended by either musicians or the record company, Pepsi in particular. The singer who sings on the album was for one reason or another not able to sing at the concert. So I asked the rhythm guitarist 'do you know any really good singers?' - 'I'll think about it' and he came with her name the next day. When I met her she was able to perform all the songs, she'l a good performer and a friendly happy person, a real professional.

How came up Tubular Bells III after Tubular Bells II, was it planned?

Well it was related how the first [Tubular Bells II] one came across. I was looking at films.. 'God farther 2' and so on and thought 'well, perhaps I could do a Tubular Bells TWO'. I was still with Virgin then and I suggested it to Simon Draper and he thought it was a great idea. That time I wasn't very well with Virgin so I kept it in the back of my mind for 3 or 4 years to be free from Virgin. Tubular Bells II was quite a success, we had a wonderful concert at Edinburgh castle...When I moved to Ibiza I wanted to do a ... not all the way through but... a Tubular Bells KIND of album with danceable all parts. It was a hobbit as this was the music I heard everywhere I went there.

So that's why you included 'techno/dance' parts?

A friend of mine gave my a tape of a German techno artist and I listened through it...
Turns to Clive Banks
I'll have to remind you about that, there was a direct Tubular Bells ripoff.
Turns back to press
Normally they change a few notes. Then I put it into my computer and analysed it. What sounds do they use and they all seem to use very similar sounds. I tied it down to one base drum sound, one hihat sound one snare sound and synthesizer... base lines are very important and you don't change key, if there is a tune it's a minimalist tune, just a few notes of sounds. Well, then I thought 'that's what it is'. In about 12 and a half seconds I created this on my computer and tried to experiment with the Tubular Bells theme on the top and it seemed to work.

Do you like this kind of music?

ME? Noo! laughs
Well, In a club, you know, in the late night and there is a good athmosphere and everybody is happy... yeah, it could be exciting, but you wouldn't listen to it in your home just for enjoyment. It's music for dancing and I enjoy that - an element of that.

Is this "the return of Tubular Bells"?

Well, it's never gone away. Not one day passes when I don't hear something that's derived from Tubular Bells - be it on TV, or some game-show, or the news program... and obviously in films. It's just a simple technique of, you know, playing a piano.
This finger keeps still, and this one just wanders around. And I hear that all the time.

How do you come to live in Ibiza?

It was actually by accident. I searched a place for my dream house and searched everywhere: in Hawaii, in Los Angeles, south of France, Seychelles Islands, Spain and just came across an advertising saying they is land for sale in Ibiza. I also saw that a friend of mine, Michael Cretu, moved there and lives there and so I was curious and fell in love with that piece of land - not the island, by the sea. I was designing the house on my computer with a virtually reality simulator and gave the plans to an architect 'build the house' and at the same time I realized that I came to the party capital of whole Europe <laughs> and started it to explore. Well, also in winter Ibiza is so quiet and beautiful. Compared to our english winters it's paradise. Every month there is a different color, flowers are covering the island.... there are a very few people around, just the Spanish, it's a really pretty place. Only in July/August it gets full of all these crazy British tourists.

Is this adventure closed or finished now?

Well, my house is for sale in Ibiza, but haven't sold it yet. I haven't thought past this concert during the last years doing the album and planning the concert and now I've done it ... well, maybe I change my mind, maybe I go back there. A lot of people in Ibiza leave when the tourists arrive and come back when it's quiet again.

Why don't you do no album with your own vocals on?

You are the 2nd person really who said that. The first one was Jaques Villeneuve who was at the parts last night. He's the only person who ever said he likes my voice.

And what about an album with only pop tunes, songs?

Ummm... I got bored with writing songs. Man In The Rain I wrote more then 10 years ago, I found I was repeating lyrics and it just didn't interest me anymore. One of my plans is to do an album just with guitars, only guitars. This could be interesting, but <silent> I haven't made my mind yet.

There were a number of females involved in TB3, including last nights band..?

That's right, yes. It's difficult to explain, but there were all females involved in the making of it: I had a female engineer, I played it to female friends that I had, my girl-friend and wanted to know 'how do you feel about this'. I thought I made it for them. I can't say exactly what makes it orientated to the female sex.... I was also fed up with this image of fans which I supposed to have being this kind of spectactly anoraks student types you know, completely...nerdy. And people used to ridicule my music because of my fans, so I thought I get some pretty girls involved and make it for them. It's a much nicer fan base you know. <laughs>

You had a female bass player, but she also played another strange instrument?

The Chapman Stick! Yes! You must have seen we had a female pianist, bass player, percussionist... 6 girls and 6 boys - I really enjoyed working with them. Wonderful. They looked nice in the pictures too!

Will you do more concerts for Tubular Bells III?

I hope so...

CLIVE BANKS CONTINUES: We're looking for easter and onwards. This concert as you probably noticed was filmed and was transmitted in Spain last night and it's starting to roll about Europe in the next couple of months. So that will go out first and that will do the promotion for the album and then we'll look at dates, but nothing before april I wanna thought.

Where would you tour?

CLIVE BANKS CONTINUES: Most of Europe. Mainland Europe is mainly where we would go, but, you know, there's a whole world out there. We're open to listen to people; and if it's interesting - like last night was very interesting - we'd love to do it. It's not interesting to do Roller-rinks or cycle sheds - they're not interesting venues to do. I don't think (Mike) particularly enjoys that and I don't think it particularly gets the music off well. It doesn't service the buildings either, very well.

But last night will be released on video?

Yeah, absolutly. And in four month time it will be on DVD. Mike has to do some DVD mixing, so I think in about christmas a DVD will come out. It's a clever format.

We can do it even interactive... We can do that...

What's different about the Mike Oldfield of today, compared with 25 years ago?

On Tubular Bells original there is a kind of phantasy land, trying to create something beautiful as I felt terrible and has nervous breakdowns when I was 19. As I get older I still have trememdous highs and lows and I don't want to do a phantasy thing, just expressing myself through music and these highs and lows come out. It's a more satisfying experience I think...

It's more about you?


Which albums of you do you like best?

Hmmm... I don't listen to my albums. I don't listen to music actually. I have the picture in my mind that when I reach the age of 90 (hopefully) I'll make a judgement then what I like best. I'm always thinking about my next thing.

CLIVE BANKS: As you always said it's a please making it, isn't it?

MIKE: Yes it is! It's an enjoyable process. It's a live process and I make it for me. It's natural.

BANKS TO THE REPORTER: So ask your question again when he is 90.

MIKE: Yeah, come back in, say, about 35 years?

What was your best ever audience?

Last night it was as good as I've ever had. They were wonderful.

Why the Horse Guard's Parade?

BANKS: We wanted to pick up something special, because we had done the Edinburgh Castle, and we looked around...

MIKE: (It's) ...hallowed ground, this holy centre of London, with all its history - it's lovely - you could just feel this lovely space filled with music for the first time ever.

Were you concerned about the Big Ben synchronised finished?

BANKS: Big Ben? Oh yes - absolutely, it's marvelous and we were very worried about it because there were cranes all around it - I don't know if you noticed - which is always the way. But we managed to get that shot, and we managed to finish on time.

MIKE: Sometimes you can see me sort of trying to speed-up certain bits!!

Was there a particular "techno" record that influenced you?

I just... I mean, I anylised it - it's not that I'm a techno fan, although, as I said before, it's really exciting in the club if you're in the right mood, you know, if it's the right time for it.

Tubular Bells III is your 2nd sequel of the same album only a few years after Tubular Bells II. Do you fear any ridicule?

Errm, no. In my career I had a lot of ridicule and had a lot of prays. I developed a tough skin and take the good with the bad. I try to accept it, but at the moment everything seems to be good, most things are good, I can't believe it.

CLIVE BANKS ADDS: It also shouldn't be a consideration in creative process - you know, what you choose to call a piece of music, I mean, it really doesn't matter. My personal view is always that Tubular Bells is Mikes group and they're also Mike Oldfield albums - they can live seperately. It's like putting The Who back together to do a Who album, versus a solo Pete Towshend album. It's just a term and it shouldn't really cause anyone any problems.

But can you see that the media might be cynical?

CLIVE BANKS CONTINUES: You're absolutely right. But it doesn't make any difference to the public, you know. It's an easy line in journalism to work along those roots, but when the public; which is why we were very keen to play the piece live on television; people very rarely have the opportunity to hear an entire piece of music in its complete form. Because of the musical formats around the world, radio and television, break things into pieces so you get three minutes, or two minutes and you have soundbites of things. So doing it this way round, we gave direct access, and we are going to do some of this on the internet as well. The direct access to the public to actually have full opportunity to listen to the entire work, rather than a sort of chopped-up, opinionated view of the work. But, you're actually right in a media context.

Did you notice that last nights audience contained a whole spectrum of age-groups?

I couln't see them as they all were covered into plastic <laughs>, but it was like a family event. There were a lot of children there. The children loved it as much as the adults. It was lovely. Even that element and the reception afterwards... I really felt like in a family concert.

What is this fascination with sequels, though?

I could have called all my albums Tubular Bells. In which case this would be Tubular Bells 18. I wouldn't have done that as they would have to have the same cover and I just love this cover, I don't know why, I live this shape. So, I'm very proud of them, I have ONE, TWO, THREE - it's like having three triplets, three children. <smiles>

Are you daydreaming of playing in a band of 10 or 12 Mike Oldfields?

Ten exactly the same of me! <LOUD laugh>
I think one is enough... for this planet. Well, two of my children starting of getting good at playing guitar. Two boys, one's called Dougal. He's very good actually and a couple of years he could be at the band. The small one is called Lug, he's just starting up.

Does heplay in the same style as you?

Same style... erm.. not yet. He's just finding his feet. You have to see him... you know this flamenco bit <sings melody> and I taught him how to play that. This is sweet, but they have to discover music on their own.

About the song Man In The Rain...

Yeah, it was great last night, wasn't it? <laughs>

...was about the split of your girlfriend Anita. Do you still meet?

It was actually the one before [Sally Cooper].

Do you have any problems with your ex-girlfriends?

No, I don't... I have good relations with the two...


No, not often, but I have been there. Obviously it was difficult when we split up. I have 3 children with Sally Cooper and 2 with Anita Hegerland. This songs actually describes the feeling split from the first family. It was very hard and very tough. I just wanted to get this out somehow and wrote this piece of music. And what came out was a song. I had it in my head, I tried it to record many times but I was never in the right mood and when it turned out it came on Tubular Bells III.

About the party life in Ibiza, do you put something special into your playing of Family Man?

Family Man was written ages ago, 15 years ago actually, it wasn't really connected with Ibiza. In fact I had other writers in the lyrics of Family Man. I wrote all teh music in the chorus and those other writers wrote the verses. It's a great live song and I enjoyed it playing live.

You didn't want to say 'now I'm a complete serious man'?

No.... maybe? <laughs>
In a couple of days.
No, actually when I'm working I'm very disciplined. I start working at 11 or 12 and I work every day till 6 or 7, don't go out and preparing a concert.

When Tubular Bells II came out you said you wanted to escape the New Age image. Do you feel you have reached this?

I think I have. New Age became incooporated into Dance music, techno music in the breaks. This is what I've done on Tubular Bells III. In the place where people normally take a break from dancing and I put this New Agey piece and that's acceptable to do that now. New Age music is very very set. May brother makes New Age music, he wanted to do something different and but some rhythms and beats behind it and his New Age record company said: NO. I hate that and I feel sorry for him, he's in the New Age hall now and I feel I finally came out of that which is a good feeling. But it's become part of a bigger thing...

Will the tour go outside Europe?

CLIVE BANKS: I think what it'll be, is it'll be places that Mike finds interesting, to be perfectly honest. The locations and venues will have a lot of varying - as to where we go. If we can find interesting venues in America, then we'll go to America. But Europe does offer an aweful lot of very interesting venues - places like Valencia... all kinds of places that would be a consideration.

Some might say that Tubular Bells III is an attempt to be too nessessarily up to date. This is what Jean-Michel Jarre did. Am I right or wrong here?

It's your opinion. If up to date means putting 5 samples on something which takes no time but will also mean that a whole new generation of young people can identify with my music then... yes.. great... easy... takes no time at all. I don't a problem with putting beats behind my music. Sometimes I enjoy dancing, I go tio clubs and dance. You can't dance to music where you have to think and go from one side to the other. If we had 3 legs we'd make a different kind of dance music.... or one.

When will we hear Tubular Bells 4?

I think ther will be some twist to it. A couple of years ago I was working on a virtual reality project which has sort of been put in the cupboard now. We're going call it Tubular World and it will be a virtual reality experience, the participator will explore virtual landscapes like tunnels, caves, deserts. You can even decite to go up to space to different planets, but all in great 3D super reality. You would control the music as you move around. Maybe we can do something like that, so there is no reason why not, but not for a few years now.

Is there a completely acoustic project?

Hmm... it doesn't excite me at the moment, but I could certainly do a guitar project with just guitars because I love to play guitars. The making of Tubular Bells III was lot of technical work, lot of computer work which can get a little bit tedious. When I do all on a computer I need a week for a take which takes 5 minutes with a guitar. So I wonder if I make an album just with guitars - wether it sounds like.

CLIVE BANKS: Maybe a film would be a nice project?

MIKE: Yeah, from time to time do films popup, but there is nothing that.... I was very furtune with my two films that have my music in, "The Exorcist" and "The Killing Fields" which are virtually classics like Tubular Bells was itself. So it would have to be a very exciting film because it does take a LOT of work to do to write a score.

CLIVE BANKS: Film makers are always come to you in the very last minute and it doesn't allow a great process, it's a shame.

Do you want to make concerts on special places?

Yeah. Played like Horseguards Parade or Red Square... we have some wonderful offer from Poland and Turkey. I never explored the eastern block and I would like to. I was very successful there.

CLIVE BANKS: I think half the problem is if you look at such fantastic locations a majority of the european promoters are not very aventerous. They come to you with suggestions of halls, which makes the most money for the least of work. This is not nessessarily our interest. We need some nice locations which of course need a bit of work.

MIKE: Yes, I quite envy Jean-Michel Jarre in that suspect with his spectaculous things like that. If I would do my own version of this it would be perfect.

What are your favorite chimes in the world?

Chimes? Ahh.. bells! BIG BEN! Only this one.

Tubular Bells III sounds not like a sequel to Tubular Bells, it's more a best of Mike Oldfield with Mike Oldfield sounds and bits.

Yes that's right. Most people get their samples of CD-ROMs which you get in the technical music shops and put it into the computer and you get thousand of samples of other people, drum sounds, synthesizer sound. So I thought I sample myself. I got out my old tapes and searched for really good samples I've got and took them into my computer system and work with them. It's some lovely things from Ommadawn, african drums for example, even the sound of Man In The Rain is the original (sampled) drum track of Moonlight Shadow. You always have legal problems with sampling, there are battles around sampling and using others samples. If I sample myself I know I don't have problems with that.

Is it possible to do a dance remix of Tubular Bells III?

Yes, in fact I know some people at Ibiza who can do that. I simply get out some key elements of it and give it to them as samples and they take them into their computer system and make a dance track from it. It surely will happen in the next couple of weeks.

Mike Oldfield Tubular.net
Mike Oldfield Tubular.net