1976 - Talking Heads (punk mag #2) Print
Written by Mary Harron & Michael Zilka   
When David Byrne applied for readmission to Rhode Island?School of design he submitted a project: xerox copies of "etcha-?sketch" maps of each of the fifty states. The admissions board took?one look and said they were sorry, there was nothing more they could?do for him. 'Maybe you should go to New York.'
 
Two years ?later he is a star-singer for the Talking Heads, alongside former ?schoolmates Martina Weymouth (bass) and Chris Frantz (drummer).?Success hasn't spoiled him: he now gets his inspiration from eco-?nomics manuals and in his spare time enjoys filling out questionaires.?Typed as the "Intellectuals" rockband, Talking Heads have am.?Yearnings. In their rather incongruous quest for mass acceptable, ?words like " Stable", "sensible", "normal" fill their conversation,?as if it was scarsdale, not a tenth floor loft with red acetate on?the windows. Its a particulary 70's state of mind: the rebels pend-?ulum swing against excess.
 
David: I really want to go into some place and ?talk to the proprietor -you know, like I was a normal person.....?If you ask a girl out- don't want her to think you want something?pervated.??
 
Martina: (laughing) When did this all start?happening? Is this totally a new thing???
 
David: For a long time I felt "well fuck ?everybody". Well now I want to be accepted. I want people like me.??
 
Chris: Yeah right.??
 
Martina: Well, you were respected in high school. You were on the student council and and everything.??
 
David: But it was only like some kind of wacko?edging his way in.??
 
On stage they are frozen and wary, as if playing behind bars. ?They may proclaim themselves as straightforward, but it is the ?dislocation of the "normal" that is their speciality. Like one of ?those psyciatric test which asks - "what's wrong with this picture?"?Somehow Byrne's ultra-conventional trousers and sport shirt only?serve to emphasisea stage manner that could be described as post ?electric shock.??Although on the top rung of C.B.G.B.'s hierarchy, they don't?attract groupies a la heartbreakers/Ramones. Musically they take up?where Lou Reed left off when he packed up his guitar to purse a ?career in self-parody: skeletal and hypnotic, tormented yet res-?trained.
 
Martina's bass is way up front, all hooks and runs, while?the guitar playing preserves the manic insistence of Lou Reed's?rhythm but adds the fragility of Neil Young's lead. Underpinning?it all is Chris's drumming, in classic 60's monochrome. The aus-?terity is impressive, although the music gets stretched too thin.?They hope to add a pianist, and recently Chris has been playing?vibes and Tina doubling up on rhythm guitar to create a fuller?sound.??
 
Working with a group is like we're conciously try-?ing to annihilate the idea of being an individual who's a hero.?A lot of time assholes are picking up as heroes......On the ?other hand we're really trying to make it........??
 
The self-effacement in manner and dress and the re-?fusal to exploit Martina's Rolex have made them hard to cate-?gorize. Neither glitter nor punk, critics have found no label?to pin them to but alienation.??
 
In a world where people have problems?
In this world where decisions are a way of life?
Other people's problem's they overwhelm my mind?
They say compassion is a virtue?
But I don't have the time?
You take my compassion and push it to far?
My interest level is dropping?
My interest level is dropping?
I've heard all I want too......
I don't care?anymore.?
[NO COMPASSION]???
 
The music generates enough eery emotion to carry the ?banal phrases, and they have a nice line in absurdist humor?(Psychokiller, first week/last week etc.) But many of the ly-?rics, once unearthed from the music, are self-indulgent jottings?that suggest more that they ever deliver. They're in good com-?pany of course: Patti Smith has won a reputation as a poet (as?opposed to a great rock n'roll singer, which she is) with lines?culled from every other poem in high school year books- Byrne's?sensibilities are college sophome dis-illusioned. Talking?Heads will probably get away with it. But thats not good ?enough......not for the best band in New York.