An expert in multi-media cat skinning
Tireless in his search for new music, film, art or technology, DAVID BYRNE has even found time to knock out a new album and go on tour. Ninian Dunnett investigates.
e tnay have been born in Dumbarton. btit there’s something about David Byrne‘s working life which is perfectly New York. After working on museum shows in (iermany. Italy and Japan and the soundtrack to lining Adam (not to
mention his DVD using artistic explorations of
PowerPoint software or the 215 foot ﬂowchart on the side of Saks Fifth Avenue) this most restless of artists has been preparing for his first concert tour with a string section.
‘I like touring.‘ he says. ‘I like singing. I like hanging out with the band. and I like the occasional dance.’ And if the idea of hanging out with a string section seems a little genteel. it should he said that Byrne came across this particular sextet ~ the Tosca Strings — playing tangos in the beer-fuelled rock clubs of Austin. Texas.
‘The music went over great. too.‘ he says. ‘People realised that this is basically dance music. just like Country is a two-step. If they did this in New York it would be hailed as groundbreaking. but in Austin it was just run-of-the-mill.‘
It‘s a typical story of colourful mixing from the man whose musical horizons first opened up in his teens with the vinyl records at the local public library. ‘()ften they were horribly scratched. but I found some Indian music. which was hip and cool at the time. Balinese music and some tnaritnba orchestras from Mexico and stttff. There wasn’t much of it. but there was enough to say — wow. there‘s more than one way to skin a cat .
Since the late days of his mainstream rock career
with Talking Heads. the American has leaned towards Latin music. ‘That's what‘s outside my window in New York. blasting out of the car stereos and the
42 THE LIST l—lfi Apr 2004
‘SOMETIMES I'M m. JEALOUS OF PEOPLE WHO CAN JUST FOCUS ON THEIR MUSIC CAREERS'
beatboxes.‘ he says. But there was something calculated. too. about his wholehearted plunge into Brazilian balladry after that hugely successful band dissolved.
‘The pendulum swung very far after Talking Heads.‘ Byrne admits. 'You couldn’t have got more disparate records. Some people just do that. in order to say. I’m not just this sort of person.’
And if his multimedia cat-skinning has been another diversion from musical success. the artist is
conscious of the trade-off. 'Sometimes I'm jealous of
people who can just focus on their music careers.’ he says. ‘I feel like. oh well. they‘re doing so well because they've got time to concentrate on their music or promotion or whatever. while I‘m busy with other
things. But people just give things
the time they want to give them.‘ album. (ii-own Backwards. continues the tireless exploration. There are two operatic arias. a l.ambchop song. and more of the cherished South American romanticism which pits his vocal chords ~ not always fruitfully < against lush. sensual musical textures. But there is also a return to the sort of fitftil rock with which that light. edgy voice prospers.
Byrne himself singles out the new song ‘l)ialog Box” as redolent of what he calls the 'playfulness‘ of Talking Heads” music. and recent years have found him returning to his best-known songs of that era on stage though he remains wary of being predictable. Alongside his three-piece band (featuring the formidable ex-(‘hic bass player l’aul l‘i'a/ier). the Tosca Strings seem likely to provide the ‘twist‘ he always looks for with the old stuff.
Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 10 Apr
All the charity, disparity and vocal parity in the wonderful world of music
A LAST MINUTE ADDITION TO the tripTych bill is the ever wonderful Super Furry Animals, who play at the Tramway in Glasgow on Thursday 29 April alongside Mountaineers, M Craft and Adem. See next issue for our full tripTych preview.
T IN THE PARK HAS ANNOUNCED the full line up for it Slam tent this year and it looks like a stoater. For full details see Clubs on page 74.
UNSGND.COM IS A NEW ONLINE radio station specifically designed to promote up and coming local music of all genres and claims to be the first of its kind in Scotland. Visit www.unsgnd.com for more.
HERE'S TAE US: A CELEBRATION of Scottish Music is a self- explanatory sounding, varied and wholly worthwhile album compiled by veteran Scottish musicmn Billy Mclssac. The album features many specially recorded tracks by the likes of Eddi Reader. Phil Cunningham, Capercaillie and Carol Laula with all profits going to the charity Lochaber Hydrotherapy. The album wrll be in stores from Monday 5 April.
N*E*R*D GOODIES UP FOR GRABS!
We have managed to get our hands on some very good swag and we want to give it to you! By sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than 19 April, you could be the new owner of a very cool N'E‘R‘D skateboard, T-shirt, album and key ring. We’ve also got two runner-up prizes of an album, T-shirt and key ring. Usual List rules apply.
WIN DAVID BYRNE TICKETS!
Regular Music have given us two pairs of tickets to give away for his show at the Usher Hall. Edinburgh on 10 April. Just email prOlTTOllOnS@l|Sl.(3().tlk with your name. address and daytime phone number by 8 April.