David Byrne on Talking Heads, Everything Everywhere – The Hollywood Reporter

David Byrne, the guest on this episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, is one of the most talented and influential singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. An Oscar and Tony winner, Byrne is also a 2019 lifetime achievement award Grammy winner and 2002 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the band for which he was principal songwriter, lead singer and guitarist from its formation in 1975 through its breakup in 1991, Talking Heads.

Byrne has been described by the New York Times as “an underground icon who danced across genres as if they were all part of one vast amplified stage” and someone who “has spent his whole career blurring the distinction between pop culture and highbrow art.” And Talking Heads have been called, by the same publication, “the most consistently adventurous band to have emerged from rock’s new wave of the mid-1970s” and “a groundbreaking ensemble with a knack for hitching off-kilter lyrics to post-modern beats,” also noting that they “dissolved the barriers between disco and rock, conceptual art and dance pop.”

Time magazine declared that the Heads “made music that examined some of the oddest, spookiest manifestations of modern emotional life, sang songs that turned grim tidings into deadpan jokes and disaffection into disarming social parables,” while noting that his lyrics “played four-wall handball with anomie and, floating all around the band’s cunning and enterprising rhythms, moved the Heads past punk and over the crest of rock’s new wave into a forefront they had sharpened up for themselves. The Heads were a prominent part of a creative community that kicked avant-garde into a single swift stream… they adopted their thematic boldness from artists and their music inventiveness from sources as diverse as [Philip] Glass and James Brown… [they] started out in the punk new-wave era but outlasted and outclassed it.”

Over the course of a conversation at the Los Angeles offices of A24, the 70-year-old reflected on the origin and dissolution of Talking Heads, and the stories behind some of their most celebrated tunes; the musical influences from abroad that have shaped his solo work ever since; the Oscar-contending — and since Oscar-shortlisted — original song “This Is a Life” that he co-wrote with Son Lux’s Ryan Lott (who curated Everything’s entire soundtrack) and the Grammy-nominated Japanese artist Mitski for the film Everything Everywhere All at Once; and more.

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