Byrne After Reading: Advice from a Talking Head
This week, we present "Byrne After Reading," our new advice column by musician/artist (and former Talking Heads frontman) David Byrne.
I am a singer who used to be in a popular and highly influential '80s band until we broke up because we all hated each other. Since then, I have pursued a solo career, but all anyone ever wants to talk about is if I'll get my old band back together. It's driving me crazy. What do I do about this?
Trust me, I know exactly what you mean. It's like people expecting you to get back together with your ex-wife after you've escaped a 15-year mindfuck of a marriage. The key word here is "crazy." Instead of just making boring albums that don't compare to your old band's work, you gotta do a bunch of weird projects so people think you're a batshit nutso "artiste" who's off in your own world, and then they'll leave you alone because they don't understand you. For example, I've recently designed New York City bike racks that look like coffee mugs and ladies' shoes, and chairs that look like file cabinets and dog toys. I've done performance art using PowerPoint, and I rigged a giant building with sound-generating devices and a trigger mechanism to turn the place into one big musical instrument. It also helps if you stare at people a lot without speaking. Or twitch.
Can you suggest any home remedies for amnesia? The other morning I found myself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife, and I just kept asking myself, "How did I get here?"
You know, I used to ask myself the same thing all the time. Not as much lately, though. Anyway, a solid slap to the forehead should take care of it.
My Brooklyn-based indie-rock group with a name that encourages clapping and the saying of "yeah" was one of the first "Pitchfork phenomenon" success stories, and we've gotten a lot of fame and money. Yet I'm tortured by the idea that we got successful by ripping off a famous art-rock band from the '70s and '80s, especially my style of singing. How do I alleviate my guilt?
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but cash is the sincerest form of apology. My advice to you would be to withdraw half the ill-gotten gains from your bank account and send them to this singer you "ripped off." You'll both feel a lot better.
I got pen ink on the sleeve of my favorite big suit. How do I get it out?
A good big suit is very hard to come by, so you need to take good care of it. Spray the ink stain with a good amount of alcohol-based hair spray, then slowly dab — do not rub — with a paper towel until it disappears. If that doesn't work, take the edge of your hand and bring it down in a chopping motion several times along the length of the sleeve, repeating until the stain is gone.
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