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David Byrne Says a Talking Heads Reunion Would Be ‘Steps Backwards’

Larry Busacca, Getty Images
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Once again, David Byrne has shot down the idea of a Talking Heads reunion. In a new interview, he acknowledged that the financial rewards simply aren’t worth the hit it could take to his artistic credibility.

“A Talking Heads reunion might be incredibly successful for a specific generation, or maybe for many generations,” he told The Creative Independent. “It would make me a lot of money and get a lot of attention. It would also probably be quite a number of steps backwards as far as being perceived as someone who does a lot of different things. For that reason, I feel like I have to sacrifice something, whether it’s money or name recognition or whatever, in order to be able to do a little bit more of what I’d want to do. In other words, you can’t have it all.”

The question that prompted his response dealt with whether or not the numerous projects he’s undertaken since Talking Heads’ 1988 breakup — be it world music or art or a musical based on the life of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos — have removed the perception of him as a dilettante. Byrne admitted that it was frustrating to break free from the shadow of his former band, but he’s since come to terms with having that as the main part of his artistic legacy.

“A lot of people are aware that I do different things beyond pop music, or whatever you want to call it. But, yes, there are other people I run into, and all they know are a few Talking Heads hits. There were times when that would’ve annoyed me like, ‘My life is a little bit more than that. I like those songs, too, but my life is more than something I did quite a number of years ago. It’s a little, tiny sliver of what I did.’ But that’s fine, too.”

Among his upcoming projects is Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, a musical retelling of the story of the 15th century French heroine that he wrote. The show will premiere at New York’s Public Theater on Feb. 14 and is scheduled to run through April 2. You can get full details at the Public Theater’s website.

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