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The science thing does that to, in a very different way of course. Their repertoire consisted mostly of songs such as ” April Showers “, ” 96 Tears “, ” Dancing on the Ceiling ” and Frank Sinatra songs.

david byrne american utopia on broadway – ‘David Byrne’s American Utopia’ Broadway Review

DAVID BYRNETalking Heads, 1976: Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, David Byrne and Jerry Harrison. Previews begin tonight at the Hudson Theatre, with a limited run through January 19th. ( Tickets) We recently spoke with Byrne, a longtime New Yorker, about the show, the nation, and other NYC topics.


There are stretches of the bass-driven opening track, Ambulance,” that suggest the soundtrack to a podcast about Theranos before shifting into a screechy, cyberpunkish second movement. Guitarist-keyboardist Ian Williams and drummer John Stanier eventually blend those two sonic ideas together as the song builds to its climax. The track’s distinct parts represent a microcosm of the album’s ethos: Every song features a plethora of ideas that, when it works, the band manages to weave together into a unified whole, with no gesture wasted.

WHEN ANNIE-B PARSON was a kid growing up in Chicago in the ’70s , her father didn’t take her to see musicals; he took her to the ballet. This turned out to be a relevant education for the cofounder of Big Dance Theater, the experimental company that injects dance into theater and theater into dance. It was at home that she watched the midcentury classics. I did love them,” she says. Those old dances, I know them by heart”—and not just the dances but everything about them. I was kind of addicted to them, until I totally rejected them and got into Talking Heads,” she says, laughing.

David Byrne: There’s another project. It looks like we’re going to do it in Denver. It’s kind of an immersive science theatre project. They all actually connect in different ways! In certain ways, this “American Utopia” show, part of it is about identity and asking about who we are and how we relate to the world. The science thing does that to, in a very different way of course. These threads connect into different things even though they seem very different.

With the concert experience American Utopia, which just ended a month of shows in Boston and debuts on Broadway this coming weekend, Byrne continues that trend, including his love of gray. The show features 12 musicians free of cords and wires. No microphone stands, amplifiers, guitar pedals or drum kits clutter the stage. Wireless technology allows the band to sing, play, dance and wander between each other and jump in and out of the groove through a chain-link curtain that boxes in the stage.

Ensconced in the velvety embrace of the Ambassador Lounge at Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre one day last month – for one-on-one press interviews about his upcoming show, David Byrne’s American Utopia” – David Byrne was relaxed.

And it’s tougher in ways that are different than it was when you were coming out. Is that your view? Yeah I would say so. When I was coming up rents were pretty cheap. I was sharing a loft with other band members, but I could pay my share with a little part time job. Which left plenty of time to do other things, like write songs. I think that might be hard to do now.

In 2012, Byrne – a Dumbarton, Scotland, native who was brought up first in Hamilton, Ontario, and later in Arbutus, Md. – had released an album, Love This Giant,” with American singer-songwriter St. Vincent. That collaboration provided further inspiration for his current project.

Wilco’s 11th album, Ode to Joy, doesn’t break out of that mold, though its sound is a bit more pared down. The project grew out of frontman Jeff Tweedy and drummer Glenn Kotche’s close collaboration, with the two forming the basic shape of the songs around the latter’s percussive ideas. The album’s primary sonic thrust is a driving, two-step march meant to evoke the rising tide of global authoritarianism, with current geopolitical climate influencing the album’s lyrical content as well. Tweedy insists that Ode to Joy’s title isn’t meant sardonically: Even in the midst of chaos, the album suggests, humans have a right to feel joy.

As the film progresses, horror and comedy intermingle and performances take on the character of composed paintings. On Life During Wartime,” Byrne’s full collapse and near seizure recalls James Brown’s cape act. But in this instance no band members or backing singers come to rescue him. He just rolls on the floor while they sing along. We make a pretty good team!” the refrain goes, with all the evidence suggesting otherwise. Then he jogs around for two minutes.

Byrne surrounds himself with 11 accomplished musicians, six on percussion, and all dressed in identical gray suits and barefoot. And together they move about a stage surrounded on three sides by curtains of metal chains, creating a series of stage tableaux. Parson’s choreography is a crafty mix of low-impact rhythmic movement and marching band, an effect amplified by the fact that the musicians all tote their own instruments as they move about the stage.

Despite David Byrne’s lack of interest in another album, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, and Jerry Harrison reunited for a one-off album called No Talking, Just Head under the name The Heads in 1996. The album featured a number of vocalists, including Debbie Harry of Blondie , Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde , Andy Partridge of XTC , Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes , Michael Hutchence of INXS , Ed Kowalczyk of Live , Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays , Richard Hell , and Maria McKee 52 The album was accompanied by a tour, which featured Johnette Napolitano as the vocalist. Byrne took legal action against the rest of the band to prevent them using the name “Talking Heads”, something he saw as “a pretty obvious attempt to cash in on the Talking Heads name”. 53 They opted to record and tour as “The Heads”. Likewise, Byrne continued his solo career.


In November, as the tour wrapped up, came the re-release of Byrne’s 1986 film, True Stories , which explores the inner lives and outer quirks of residents of a fictional Texas town and is based on stories from tabloid newspapers. Byrne once described True Stories as like 60 Minutes on acid.” The timing of the film’s re-release was brilliant—but also coincidental, he admits: I hadn’t looked at it in a while. And a lot of it does seem prescient and newly relevant. There’s a lot of stuff that seems oddly like, ‘Oh. I recognize this! It seemed like fiction in the movie, and now it’s fact.’” Byrne recently came by our New York City studio to tape this episode of the Mother Jones Podcast. Listen below, or read on for our edited version of the conversation.

It’s appropriate that the first song to assemble the full company onstage is also the first classic Heads track, “Don’t Worry About the Government,” and while the electricity bouncing off the performers and coursing through the audience is a constant throughout the show, it peaks every time they dip into that superlative vintage catalog. Byrne’s typically quirky, clever lyrics also are a good thematic fit, about an Everyman relishing the security of family, home and job. The satirical hint behind the admiration expressed by the song’s narrator for “the laws made in Washington, D.C.” also jibes with the show’s bigger picture.

Time hasn’t exactly mellowed these songs. But they now sound oddly hopeful in their bewilderment. When Byrne and company perform the 1985 hit Road to Nowhere” as an encore, there’s the jubilant reassurance that if the journey still has no destination, at least we’re all in it together.

While fans may be disappointed by Byrne’s answer, the singer is next planning to debut a new Joan of Arc musical on Broadway this spring. American Utopia, the theatrical concert event from former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne , officially opens on Broadway October 20 following previews that began October 4 at the Hudson Theatre.

I’ve done shows before where musicians can move around. I did a tour with St. Vincent a few years ago and all the brass players could move around, which is not that uncommon. And then I did another one before that where we had some dancers and singers that could move around, and there was always all this other stuff on stage. All the gear and the players, they were kind of locked in place. And this time I thought if I could get everybody to move, if everybody was free, then we wouldn’t need to have anything on stage except us. And that is going to help tell the story.

Aside from a handful of interiors filmed in a studio, everything in True Stories was shot around North Texas. And although Byrne was based in New York and a handful of the production team and its topline actors lived elsewhere, the film is populated with Texans who gravitated to the set to act, appear as extras, fill out the musical score, or just observe the surreal spectacle.

Byrne’s new album, American Utopia (out March 9 on Nonesuch Records), falls right in line with his discography. It’s a record that effortlessly moves through his signature harmonies and floating songwriting. At times, he sings from the perspective of a dog in paradise (Dog’s Mind”); others, he’s musing on whether something should be considered this” or that” (This Is That”), whatever the hell that means. Initially created in tandem over email with Brian Eno, who provided him some electronic drum tracks made by an algorithm (of course), Byrne wrote his lyrics quickly,” and soon the project morphed into his own.

Juice B Crypts occasionally threatens to collapse beneath the weight of its overstuffed songs. But even when it’s too maximalist for its own good, Battles’s music is still compelling. That’s thanks in large part to Stainer’s mind-meltingly good drum work, which culls from an impressive array of influences, from breakneck-style jazz playing in the vein of Buddy Rich to polyrhythmic adventurism like that of Chris Frantz to post-punk thudding reminiscent of Stephen Morris. He remains Battles’s stabilizing force.

DB: Oh, yeah. I can imagine a lot of bands, they’re gonna say, Oh, no. It’s not about money.” Yeah, it sure is about money! That really became something we had to deal with. As you’re implying, it was never approached directly. It was approached obliquely. The other thing is, sometimes musical interests really did take me to places that were not appropriate to execute with the band I was with.

Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is bringing ‘David Byrne’s American Utopia’ to Broadway with a run in Boston coming ahead of the New York City performances. Celebrate David Byrne’s birthday with a collection of Talking Heads’ music videos from 1981 – 1988.

David Byrne – the visionary front man and multi-disciplinary artist behind the seminal band the Talking Heads, hits the road with the release of his first solo album in 12 years – American Utopia. Byrne will perform songs from his solo career and Talking Heads hits accompanied by a 12-piece untethered band.

Fans of Byrne will recognize this device of an empty stage being gradually populated and animated by the arrival of music makers from the great 1984 Jonathan Demme concert film Stop Making Sense.” There’s a difference, though.

A cofounder of the musical group Talking Heads, David Byrne has also released several solo albums in addition to collaborating with such noted artists as Twyla Tharp, Robert Wilson, and Brian Eno. His art includes photography and installation works and has been published in five books. He lives in New York and he recently added some new bike racks of his own design around town, thanks to the Department of Transportation.


Talking Heads frontman and noted solo artist David Byrne has announced a new editorial venture called Reasons to be Cheerful. The online magazine, which follows an eclectic collection of recent solo ventures including the Broadway adaptation his 2018 album American Utopia , is dedicated to covering solutions found to the many problems facing our tumultuous world.

Last week, Byrne announced the release of “American Utopia” during a presentation of Reasons To Be Cheerful,” an ongoing series he curates of hopeful writings, photos, music and lectures. The presentation was given at New York’s New School to a live audience and also was streamed via his Facebook page. He also released the first track from the album, Everybody’s Coming To My House”— co-written with Brian Eno, featuring contributions from TTY, Happa, Isaiah Barr Leader of the Onyx Collective, Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never), Mercury Prize winner Sampha, and others. The song’s visual companion piece can be seen here. Everybody’s Coming To My House” is available to download instantly with pre-orders of “American Utopia” on iTunes and at Nonesuch Store pre-orders also include an exclusive print facsimile of an early handwritten lyric sheet to the song.

David Byrne: I don’t know what the final straw was. But it was probably two, maybe three years ago now that I started collecting things that gave me a little bit of hope. I thought, Oh look, maybe things aren’t totally going to hell?” There are counter-things that are being created across the world and are succeeding. Maybe as a kind of self-therapy, I thought Okay, I have to remember that.” Because reading all of the headlines is going to get me really depressed and turn me into a cynical cranky person. I thought, I don’t want that to happen. Let’s start putting things out because maybe other people need to hear this stuff, too. They’re probably feeling the same way that I am.

Not to hone too far in on the toilet paper as a metaphor, but I can’t think of a better representation of Byrne’s approach to art and life. Here’s a man who not only created some of the most influential music that’s ever existed, but did so with a knowing wink, kind of like an esoteric uncle who always uses Thanksgiving dinner to make a weirdly coherent argument for why we should use bicycles to power our televisions. His career, which began in 1975 with the Talking Heads before launching into solo and collaborative work in 1991, is one that’s built upon exploring the world with genuine curiosity, while also shamelessly laughing at it.

Juice B Crypts biggest drawback is that, with so much going on, some of these songs get lost in the album’s frenetic whiplash pacing. A Loop So Nice…” is a fleeting piece of crystalline glitch-pop that suffers from its placement alongside its superior companion piece, They Played It Twice,” which features a vocal part from Xenia Rubinos that attains almost religious levels of ecstasy. Last Supper on Shasta, Pt. 1” gets some mileage from Merrill Garbus’s typically wild vocals, but Pt. 2” buries her singing under a mountain of noise.

Continuing that theme, the musicians return for an encore of the Talking Heads’ 1985 hit Road to Nowhere” — a fittingly paradoxical close to a stunning show from an artist whose much-vaunted quirkiness masks his intensely focused and disciplined creativity. While Byrne’s more recent solo recordings may not always approach the brilliance of his earlier work — really, not many creators’ work does — particularly in concert, he remains a vital, compelling and deeply relevant artist who, at 67, continues to challenge his audience and himself.

She is remembering all this in the SoHo production studio of David Byrne, her childhood idol turned frequent creative collaborator, four months before their latest project, American Utopia, arrives on Broadway. It’s a hot summer day, and the Talking Heads founder is walking Parson through his gorgeous archive of tapes, files, and art, to the office in the back, where they are working on the show’s transition from stage to stage—in this case, from concert venue to Broadway theater. They speak like old friends, which, at this point, they are.

WHEN ANNIE-B PARSON was a kid growing up in Chicago in the ’70s , her father didn’t take her to see musicals; he took her to the ballet. This turned out to be a relevant education for the cofounder of Big Dance Theater, the experimental company that injects dance into theater and theater into dance. It was at home that she watched the midcentury classics. I did love them,” she says. Those old dances, I know them by heart”—and not just the dances but everything about them. I was kind of addicted to them, until I totally rejected them and got into Talking Heads,” she says, laughing.

Byrne’s Broadway stand — his show is here through Jan. 19 — follows in a path carved out successfully by Bruce Springsteen , who, two autumns ago, turned a deeply autobiographical concert into a hit theater event. Byrne himself is no stranger to musical theater; his lyrics and music, the latter with Fatboy Slim, enlivened the unique off-Broadway musical Here Lies Love,” about the rapacious onetime Philippines first couple, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. American Utopia” unites Byrne with Parson and Here Lies Love” director Alex Timbers, credited here as a consultant. The blending of their brains once again provides a splendid theatrical alchemy.

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