Huffpost Canada Music ca

Talking Heads: David Byrne + Arcade Fire's Win Butler On Career Suicide, Fashion and Not Becoming Fat Elvis

Posted: Updated:

The Pop Montreal Music Festival hosted a conversation between David Byrne and Arcade Fire's Win Butler to discuss Byrne's newest book, How Music Works.

The event, which took place at the Ukrainian Federation, was mediated by Said the Gramophone's Sean Michaels and dove into the two musicians' personal experiences performing and making music. Among the topics discussed, in relation to Byrne's musings in his latest book, Byrne and Butler talked about the relationship between performer and audience, picking the right attire to wear onstage and Byrne's Latin, Afro-Cuban turn on his 1989 debut solo album, Rei Momo; something the ex-Talking Heads musician recalled as a "career suicide."

"Right after Talking Heads parted ways, I went out with a large Latin band and lots of people were curious to hear what I was doing," said Byrne. "So I was booked at a lot of rock festivals and Soundgarden would be playing just before us and then I'd go on with this Latin band...and then it would be Pearl Jam.

"I felt like I've either made a huge mistake or my booking agent made a huge mistake! The audience was just not going for it; it was career suicide."

Another bump in Byrne's career, he admits, was his fashion choice; more specifically his attempt to work jumpsuits in as a uniform for his band. Having grown fond of a particular designer one-piece he owned, he had the piece of clothing remade and replicated for every member of his band because they were a "sort of uniform but kind of contemporary-looking," but realized the problem once they all put them on.

"It ended up that everybody looked like they were wearing onesies, getting ready for bed," he tells the audience, before Butler chimed in. "Here's daddy David, going to tuck you in...enjoy Pearl Jam!"

Butler's band also boasts a distinct style onstage. As he describes it, he was looking for the "least cool thing you can wear," and settled on the style of Sunday school clothes. "It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was very hot."

Don't ever expect Butler to jump on the jumpsuit trend, though. "You kind of have to be a skinny dude to pull off a jumpsuit," explains Butler. I tried one on before and it was just, fat Elvis. There's a fine line between hot Elvis and fat Elvis."

Admittedly, fashion is a considered part of a performance and when Byrne first began to think about his outfits, anonymity was a huge factor. He added, "I thought I should be as normal onstage as I could possibly be so my clothing doesn't say anything and it would let the music do the speaking. I try to be as anonymous as possible."

Especially in today's culture, as Byrne points out, the emphasis of a performance is placed on the one person or band on a stage as opposed to everyone being part of this whole experience.

"We're really all playing together, everybody becomes one," said Byrne. "Sometimes just for a couple of seconds, but maybe that's enough."

Around the Web

Arcade Fire's Win Butler and David Byrne to Discuss Byrne's New ...

David Byrne + Win Butler :: How Music Works | POP Montréal

David Byrne & Win Butler: "How Music Works" - Ukrainian - Exclaim!

DAVID BYRNE IN CONVERSATION WITH WIN BUTLER

Pop Montreal 2012 to feature Win Butler and David Byrne in ...

If you want to piss off Win Butler at an Arcade Fire gig you should ...

David Byrne and Win Butler to discuss How Music Works | Quillblog ...

David Byrne Announces How Music Works Book Tour Featuring Special Guests ...

Filed by Joshua Ostroff