“This ain’t a party, this ain’t disco, this ain’t a con,” David Byrne once stated on the Talking Heads’ macabre punk/funk classic “Life During War,” which marked New York night spots Mudd Club and CBGB and was one of the musical numbers featured in the blockbuster musical Heads, Stop thinking. And now, four decades later, it’s all in for Byrne, in the most classy of ways.
just us Stop thinking Getting the deluxe 4K re-release treatment this week (with Byrne set to reunite for the first time since 2002 with fellow estranged Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison for a Q&A session in celebration of the film’s anniversary next month), Byrne brings dystopian disco to the Broadway scene in New York with the immersive musical Here lies love. The musical, written by superstar DJ Fatboy Slim and Explore Evita– Like the rise, fall and decadent life of Imelda Marcos, it is based on another legendary club of the late 70s, Studio 54. Much like Life During War, it mixes politics and partying.
“When I read that Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady of the Philippines, loved going to discos, that she went to Studio 54 and a whole bunch of others, and that she had a mirror ball installed in her New York home… I thought, ‘Oh, that’s someone who lives In this world, perhaps there is some kind of link. Maybe there’s a kind of metaphor for the kind of isolated bubble world of someone as strong as that — that kind of transcendent euphoria you kind of get on the dance floor,” Byrne told Yahoo Entertainment. Whether there is a story that can be told in this way.”
Byrne, who had an idea Here lies love Nearly 20 years ago when he saw footage of Imelda Marcos dancing with Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi under a disco ball in her apartment, he admitted he was freaked out during occasional visits to Studio 54 that day, when controversial figures like Marcos were treated like A-list. Celebrities besides the likes of Bianca Jagger and Grace Jones. “I thought, ‘This is A.’s wife dictator! This is it truly Who do you want to photograph with? Don’t you care? Or is everyone charming, and that’s all that matters? I thought, “No, no, there are implications in the real world.” But the pop art agitator shows that for all its glitz and glamor, Here lies love — for which he visited the Philippines “several times when I was writing” to test materials and make sure “I wasn’t too far off base” — no Glorifying or belittling the epic significance of the Marcos regime.
“If you only watched the first half of the show, you’d think we were celebrating Imelda and her husband. But I felt like we were king To do that. You have to understand what it feels like to be seduced in this way, the way the Filipino people were. Byrne explains… If you’re not tempted, it doesn’t matter that you have a broken heart. “We’re playing on that in the show, for sure. The audience is kind of seduced by all the music and the dancing and everything like that, and they’re pushed down the garden path into a dictatorship. … You, as a member of the audience, are being replaced by the Filipino people. You’re cheering Al Marcos, and clap and dance with them as they get elected and come to power….and then It is important when things go wrong.”
The slow seduction of Here lies love – that converted a rebuilt Broadway theater into a fully immersive space with 900 seats ripped out to create a Studio 54-like club environment – resembling the way Jonathan Demme directed Theatre. Stop thinkingwhich starts on a sporadic stage and then continues to build with each song.
There is a connection with Stop thinking In this. At the time, I started to wonder, why do we always do shows the same way? Maybe we can rethink the way shows are staged, and maybe you don’t have to just assume, “Well, we’ll do it this way, because that’s the way it’s always been done,” Byrne thinks. “Maybe that was the first time I thought. In it, “Let’s rethink what a rock concert could be and how we can organize it and how we can build it up little by little.” Let the audience see how the whole show is put together, how the music is put together, how the stage show is put together, and then kind of click on key and put it all into practice.” (Side note: Byrne redefined what the concert experience could be like with him American Utopia tour and accompany the Broadway rock scene from 2018 to 2022, but he quips that the only way the success of that Grammy-winning musical affected Broadway’s development in Here lies love Did you “help us get support and funding!”)
Love of dance is the thread that runs through Byrne’s work – with heads, with American Utopiawith Disco-tastic Here lies loveeven with his hedonistic personality, the main character of the party “Toe Jam” video With Fatboy Slim’s BPA side project, which he jokes was his “revenge” after he drafted a techno artist to work on the latest musical. “I’m not a trained dancer, but I love to dance. It took me a while to realize my antics were okay,” Byrne admits, crediting pop star Tony Basil, who choreographed the Talking Heads’ iconic “Once in a Lifetime,” To help him realize, “I didn’t have to do what trained dancers did. I could come up with my own[moves].” So, that was very helpful. Stop thinking. We kind of had a similar process to what Tony used to do, where you had kind of jams and moves the way they wanted and what they felt like at a certain point.”
Byrne adds with a chuckle, “Once Talking Heads got past the initial stage of immobility what ever, and then fully embraced the dance, the choreography, the movement, and everything on stage. … But before that, I thought, “Well, I’d rather do nothing than try and fail what everyone else is doing.” The fledgling cable network was then premiered seven months after the release of Once in a Lifetime. “We were lucky that MTV came along, because it gave us a visual outlet that we could grab onto. It was like, ‘Oh, YesWe know how to do it!”
While the aforementioned “Life During War,” which appeared two years earlier on MTV, was misleadingly adopted by rock supporters of the “Disco Sucks” movement of 1979, Byrne recalls the halcyon era, when Talking Heads first arrived on the scene, as “Nice moment there, where he was overlap With rock, dance, hip hop, disco and club music. Everything was possible. You can combine and mix all of these kinds of things. It just felt right.” Regarding the disco backlash that followed, Byrne said, “I would say race (was the cause). Now we are Still We have radio stations called the “rock” station and then we have the “urban” station, which actually means black; It doesn’t just mean people who live in cities. So, radio in the US is still… very isolated. But who knows? Maybe it will fall apart.”
But Byrne clearly didn’t stay down one musical lane, and as he looks back on his half-century career, he chuckles as he recalls the early Talking Heads taken from bemused radio programmers when they first mixed disco and rock. We got a little bit of a pushback. There were some fans who said, ‘Oh, I loved you when you were kind of a younger band and you were more attractive!’ You know, that kind of thing; you always get that. But most of the reactions that way have been From the radio. They felt we were getting too funky for white people! And so, there was resistance to playing some of our music for a while. Then eventually we kind of crossed over, and it was fine.”
And if there’s any better proof of how far Talking Heads crossed over, it’s Fred Armisen and Bill Hader’s latest Stop thinking A parody of IFC Documentary Now! series, in which Armisen played the loosely dressed Lee Smith and very similar to Byrne. Byrne seems to think imitation is the highest form of flattery, says Armisen, Hader, and Maya Rudolph “do a pretty cool job” depicting the fictional big-headed art band’s audition model in Documentary Now! Episode titled “Final Transmission”.
“I was in a club once, a little club here in New York to really see a different act, and Fred got up; he got up and imitated me—not knowing I was in the audience,” Byrne remembers with a laugh. It was great! It was really good. Then he came right after and said, ‘I had no idea you were here. I’m very sorry! Hope that doesn’t bother you. And I thought, no, no, no, no. It was great. “
Watch David Byrne’s extended interview by Yahoo Entertainment below, in which he discusses the groundbreaking production behind it Here lies lovethe chances of it becoming a big-screen musical, and why it resonates more now than it did when he and Fatboy Slim started working on it in 2005.