1996 - What's this Green Button? Print
Written by Vassilis Statholoupos   

The following conversation between website correspondent Vassilis Stathopoulos and David Byrne was recorded in Greece, 30 minutes before David Byrne would do a press conference about his `photoworks` exhibition which was shown in gallery `Mylos` (June 20 - July 14 1996) in Thessaloniki. During this chat Vassilis showed David part of this website -offline- on his laptop.

Vassilis: This is not a 'normal' interview. I think of it most like a
friendly chat, because of the way it happened and because we just sat there
in front of my notebook and a cup of Greek coffee showing DB this site and
talking about things as they came. I was prepared for an interview, so I
asked a couple of these questions... but it is mostly a friendly chat. David
was very interested in his unofficial site, especially in the bootleg area
which kept reading for some time.

We walked together from the exhibition hall to Mylos coffee shop. Mylos is a
great place where 150 people work and has everything... a couple of bars, a
restaurant, 2 concert halls, an outdoor concert hall, indoors and outdoors
coffee houses, 2 exhibition halls... and it's still growing! It is located
in an old beer factory and the whole feeling of Mylos is perfect... If you
ever visit Thessaloniki (600 km from Athens, in the Northern part of Greece) it's
an absolute must!





10:02 -- We found a good place under a tree and left our bags. 

VS: What do you want?

DB: Either Greek coffee or espresso. Something not sweet.

VS: What does Luaka Bop mean?

DB: It's name of some kind of tea. I just really liked the sound.

VS: [speechless] Yeah... It's a great sound... [trying to hide my surprise]

VS: What do you think of the whole Internet thing? The information highway?

DB: Well, right now I think of it... it's really... as a big library. The
e-mail is an immediate convenience, it saves money and time and all
these kind of things. But the multimedia parts of the Internet and these
things are a little bit slow right now (moves the recorder closer) Seems
a bit slow for me right now and for a lot of other people. But it's
really useful as a kind of a large library. So if you want to find about
something...
[all this time we are looking at some pages of this site]

DB: What is this green button ? 

VS: It's the mouse.

DB: Uh!

VS: Would you like to search for something here? About you or your work? 
Let's go find 'Strange Ritual'. 

DB: okay

VS: Some information about it.
[while loading]
You have met some of the people of the list when you went to the
bookstores for the promotion of Strange Ritual. Some people have given
you printed pages of the messages. Do you remember anything? 

DB: No...

VS: This is an animated photo of you, I hope you like it...

DB: Haha... yeah

VS: Here is strange ritual. This is the quick index of the whole site.
It is based on the will and these people are giving their heart for you
and Talking Heads. I hope you like it.

DB: Yeah.

DB: These are all the images. (From the book)

VS: You can click here and go directly and see the picture.

VS: Is there anything else you'd like to see?

DB: Oh, Let me see the bootlegs !

VS: How do you feel about the bootlegs?

DB: It doesn't bother me so much right now.

VS: Do you like people who love you have live versions of the songs, that
like perhaps more than the normal songs?

DB: It's ok. I understand that.

VS: Do you have any bootlegs for yourself ?

DB: I also have some of my recordings... (laughs)

VS: Yeah, you have them because you are creating them... But do you like to
keep them ?

DB: I have some copies. I bought some in Italy.

VS: They are a lot there. Our last project was to make a t-shirt saying
Internet mailing list from the people there and we payed just the money
to make it... wasn't sold anywhere else and it was quite good. It had a
BW picture of you four and 'Facts are simple and facts are straight' on
the back... Was great... 
[David Byrne now has his own mailing list T-shirt -I gave him mine]

DB: (laughs)

VS: This guy, Frank, from Holland, this was the one who arranged it all.

[reading the Bootleg survey]

DB: Did you order a coffee also ?

VS: No...

DB: These ones I know. ['Compassion is a virtue', 'Rhythm Section',
'Electrically']

VS: I didn't know they were so many bootlegs out there...

DB: This one I don't know

VS: 'Secret lives of Tina Weymouth'. This one is from 'My life in the bush
of ghosts'. Know anything about it ?

DB: No, never seen it.

VS: This one I am sure you don't know. Big Heads. It came out in 8 numbered
copies.

DB: ! [laughs]

VS: First time I saw it I didn't believe they were so many bootlegs !

DB: I don't believe it either. A lot of them look like the same year. Maybe
some of them are different people putting up the same recordings.

VS: Yeah, or compilation of other bootlegs.

DB: Yeah, that's what it looks like.

VS: Most of them are only in LP's. There are a lot of bootlegs in tape, but
everyone has his own tapes of his concerts so... To tell you the truth, 
most of your songs are a lot better live. Is where the energy comes out 
from you and from the people there. But on the normal studio CD's it's 
something more cooler. I don't know if I expressed it right.

DB: Yeah, yeah! ..... This one is from the last tour I think.

VS: 'Girls on my mind'... I don't know it.

DB: I mean I recognize the songs.

VS: I read recently that you wanted to write 'Psycho Killer' in Greek
instead of French. Is that true ?

DB: No.

VS: I read that Tina Weymouth said it and you didn't remember about it. Not
true ?

DB: (smiling) No. I think I always wanted to do it in French. Seems
something more like a crazy aristocratic person would do.

VS: This one is very good.

DB: From Stockholm ['No Titles please']

VS: Yeah, it's great (recording) and all the songs are great.

DB: The sound's good. Has a lot of stars. [laughs]



VS: Did you see Boris Yeltsin about a week ago it was at a concert dancing ?

DB: It was like an election thing, right? Went to some concert. But I think
he also takes his own bands.

VS: I just saw he was dancing and he wanted to approach the young people.
How do you feel about this that politics is more come like show biz? In
America it is show biz. But in Russia ?

DB: They're learning fast. It's show biz there too. It's all lies.

VS: We are all becoming one in that area.

DB: Yeah, they are learning all the bad things from America. (laughs)

VS: How about America ? Has it tired you ? Are you bored of the US? Do you
still like it ? What is your feeling about it now ?

DB: I like it, but I get bored with it because it is very insular. In the
US, you must sensed this, people think 'we are no 1', everyone will 
come to us. We don't have to look, we don't have to know what's going 
on in this country or this country, the music there or the culture or 
whatever... because everything will come to us... so we just sit, and 
we wait. And it's not true. So the culture in America becomes very 
diluted, very weak, very close minded because people think America is 
the world, but it's not the world. It's only one place. That's the 
problem. I mean it's a great place, but it's not the only place.

VS: Where would you like to live? I read that a couple of months ago you
went in Spain, I don't remember which city and wanted to buy a house 
there and live.

DB: I went to Barcelona. I am going again tommorow (21-6-96) to, well
there's a music festival but I also maybe look again for an appartment.

VS: How about Greece ?

DB: It's possible, it's possible too, but right now I 've been learning some
Spanish. Americans are terrible at learning. 

VS: I saw you performing during the 'Monster in the mirror' tour. It was
great with Angel Fernandez and all the horns.

DB: Yeah, that tour tried to mix it together. I put more from the Talking
Heads back.

VS: It had some variations because of the Spanish lyrics that were missing,
but it was pretty nice versions of the songs. I really liked it.

VS: Do you like Greece? Greek people? Do you like Ancient Greece? Have you
read about it? You read about it a lot from what I know.

DB: Not a lot. But still I am reading another book now, this writer, an
English writer Robert Graves. It's very thick [smiles]. So I put it in 
the bathroom and I read a bit of it every day. [smiles]

 

VS: What is in your CD-player right now ?

DB: Right this minute is a new LP from Brazilian composer Carlinos Brown.
Great record. I guess it comes out maybe a month or so.

VS: Comes out on Luaka Bop ?

DB: No, I wish. It's a big production, a lot of money.

VS: What's new in Luaka Bop ? Are you planning something ?

DB: The newest is a kind of... The singer is from Venezuela but is living in
NY and it;s kind of a Latin scope end called King Chango.

VS: What about your personal work ?

DB: I started recording last week. But in a very small way. In my home
studio we're collaborating with another musician from NY.

VS: What's it gonna be like ? It's too rough of course now, but you have
something in mind.

DB: Yeah, I think it's gonna be much... I think what I'm trying to do is
have beautiful melodies but very unusual kind of texture so that in one 
song is a cross between jungle rythme with mix of country or western and 
one is like of Cole Porter or Portishead or something like that. Mixing 
different styles together.

VS: How do you feel about the Heads project ? The three of them and all those
different singers ?

DB: I think they should use a different name because it's a different kind
of thing. And there's really no connection other than some of the
musicians. But I hope they have success.

VS: Would you like them to have artistic success or commercial success? What
do you think will happen ?

DB: I hope they have artistic success, but I think if they use this part of
the old name then they will only have commercial success.

VS: Do you mind them using the name ?

DB: Yeah, I don't think it's a good idea. I don't think... I think it's fine
in concert if they perform Talking Heads material, anybody can do that, 
but... 

DB: I better see what's going on here...

VS: I kept you long. I'm terribly sorry...

DB: Nuh, I think we're waiting a little bit...

10:43 --- We got up and had some last words while going towards the press
conference room...


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== Transcription and photos (C) Vassilis Stathopoulos 1996,
== exclusively for Talking-heads.net. Edited and published
== 
by Frank Veldkamp.