David Byrne talks to Sound + Vision programmer Isa Cucinotta. Photo by Julie Cunnah
Thirty years after its release, Jonathan Demme’s groundbreaking Stop Making Sense still rocked the house. For audiences lucky enough to attend the sold-out screening at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater, the film itself was not the only draw: music icon David Byrne dropped in to share some thoughts as he looked back on the making of Demme’s classic and the music behind it.
The concert film was shot over the course of three Talking Heads concerts held at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. The band performed on an all-black stage with basic white lighting while being captured in long takes, thus reducing distraction between the viewer and the musical performances at hand as they rock through Talking Heads classics, including “Girlfriend Knows Better,” for which Byrne wore his famous “big suit.”
“There's the arc of the stage show being created and you see the show being put into action, but I sense there was another [narrative]. There was a psychological narrative, with me starting off as this very twitchy person, alone on a stage… Mr. 'Psycho Killer,'” said Byrne, describring the progression of the film. “Gradually, with help of the music and with the help of all these other people, band members, singers, and everybody else who begin to surround me, this angsty guy lets go and is liberated.”
Byrne discussed his process for creating and performing music in the past and present, having been inspired by cultural traditions around the world. Thirty years later, Byrne still provides a refreshing take on the different ways people consciously and subconsciously interpret the aural and visual narrative experience of Stop Making Sense and other performances alike. Take a look below: