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Talking Heads’ David Byrne says he felt “removed” re-watching himself in ‘Stop Making Sense’

Talking Heads star David Byrne has opened up about the experience of re-watching himself in the iconic concert film, Stop Making Sense.

  • READ MORE: The NME Big Read – David Byrne: “I have a little bit of hope. Not every day, but some days”

The iconic band reunited for a Q&A back in September at the Toronto International Film Festival. Comprising Byrne, bassist Tina Weymouth, drummer Chris Frantz and guitarist Jerry Harrison, the band made their first public appearance together in over 20 years at the event.

As announced in August, the long-awaited reunion was staged in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Talking Heads’ legendary concert film, Stop Making Sense (1984).

Now, in a new interview with the New York Times, Byrne opened up about his appearance in the film, saying watching himself on screen and looking back felt like he is now “removed” from the experience.

He explained: “It’s almost as if I’m watching a character. I’m a little removed. I retain elements of that person but not all of him. It’s like, ‘Oh, what is the connection between me and that being that I’m looking at?’”

When asked if it was a difficult to describe how he felt watching the film, Byrne replied: “Yeah, and that applies to all of us, not just me. Lots of other people, scientists and philosophers, think about this more than I have: Where is the difference between yourself here and here and here? Is there any continuous self?

“You could say you’ve retained memories from various parts of your life, but memories are very malleable. We reshape them every time we remember them. They’re not fixed. Every self you go through, you dredge something up and make it apply to whoever you are at that moment. It’s a hard thing for us to intuitively accept the idea of “self is an illusion.” It’s very Buddhist, but it’s also increasingly more scientific. It’s not just a spiritual concept. It’s also a kind of neural concept.”

While he added that he didn’t feel any nostalgia for that time, he did reflect on how he felt seeing young and old fans respond to the re-release of the film so positively recently.

“I think some older Talking Heads fans who have gone to see Stop Making Sense — this new print — will have come with a certain sense of nostalgia. They remember when they saw that tour or when they first heard the band. So there’s that, which is very nice, but what’s unusual is now you have kids in their 20s and 30s and younger going to see it and finding their own meaning in it. It’s not like, ‘Oh, this is dad’s music’.

“When I was doing press with the band recently, I think Jerry Harrisson [Talking Heads guitarist] might have pointed out that that might be partly to do with the fact that a lot of the things we did are very analog. The lighting: Most of it is nothing you couldn’t have done in 1930. There’s nothing technically that speaks of the ’80s. It’s not rooted in a particular musical era.”

Back in the summer, Harrison said working on the re-release of Stop Making Sense acted as somewhat of a “healing experience” for Talking Heads.

Byrne also recently explained that he regrets the way the band split, and confessed that he was a “little tyrant” at the time. The singer has since elaborated on the members’ current relationship, likening their break-up to a “divorce”.

“We get along OK. It’s all very cordial and whatever,” he said. “It’s not like we’re all best friends. But everybody’s very happy to see this film coming back out.

“We’re all united in the fact that we really love what we did here. So that kind of helps us talk to one another and get along.”

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