The always interesting David Byrne spoke with Pitchfork about the democratization of recording technologies and what goes into a good performance. Read the excerpts below, then check out the trailer from a DVD of his recent tour.
Pfork: It is interesting how the conventions of the rock show are pretty established and conservative: band comes out, plays their songs, comes back for an encore, and that’s it. Do you ever find yourself bored by some of those conventions?
David Byrne: Sometimes– it’s the whole shoegazer and laptop thing where the band doesn’t give the audience very much. At some point, you’re like, “I love what this person is doing, but I think I’ll just put the record on at home next time.”
On the [Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno] tour, one of the dancers gave me a DVD of an R. Kelly show that had been shot in Oakland, and I watched it and thought, “Oh, my god.” Insane stuff, just insane: a six-minute monologue about girls moaning [laughs] and then he did Trapped in the Closet with almost all the different voices. I thought, “Wow, here’s where some of the most innovative musical staging is happening– it’s not happening in the rock world.”
Pfork: Is the technology at a place where you could do everything you wanted without having that money to go into a studio? Did you feel any limitations?
DB: Well, with that record, we had a guy mix it in a real studio. And there were studio days recording drums and brass and some other things that you definitely can’t do on a laptop. But we would do those [recordings] as one-offs. I’m always surprised now when I see a band park themselves at a real recording studio for two or three weeks. I think, “How are you gonna pay this back?” But I do have friends who will go out of town and find a place where the rates are a tenth of what they are in New York. They’ll record there, and it makes perfect sense. (More here)