Exclusive: David Byrne's once in a lifetime interview with Kimbra

by The Listener / 05 October, 2018
David Byrne and Kimbra backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

David Byrne and Kimbra backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

RelatedArticlesModule - David Byrne interview Kimbra

The former Talking Head is quizzed by the Grammy-winning Kiwi ahead of their New Zealand shows together.

They performed together in a David Bowie tribute, they will be sharing a stage again in New Zealand and now David Byrne and Kimbra are a double-act in the pages of The Listener.

Byrne, who was the frontman of influential 1980s art-pop group Talking Heads, is interviewed in the new issue by the Grammy-winning Kiwi singer, who will be his opening act on his three NZ dates in November.

Says Listener Books and Culture editor, Russell Baillie: “We were told David Byrne wasn’t doing any New Zealand interviews. I remembered the Kimbra connection went beyond just being the support act. We asked her people to ask his people and, after many emails, everyone’s people said yes. I suggested some ideas for questions but Kimbra and her very big music brain had plenty of things she was curious about. It’s a good read.”   

The pair converse about the state of music today, Byrne’s life in New York, his post-Heads career which has included founding World Music label Luaka Bop, work in theatre, opera and film, writing of books and being an advocate for urban cycling.

Byrne says he can’t remember much about the shows by his old band in 1979 and at their commercial height they headlined the Sweetwaters festival 1984. Though on more recent visits, Byrne tells Kimbra he recalls feeing “fairly terrified” when he was caught in a rip while swimming at a beach near Auckland but enjoyed visiting Rotorua and walking the Tongariro Crossing.

The pair sang together at a tribute to the late David Bowie at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2016. As well as sharing a producer in Brian Eno, Byrne says he had tried to emulate the other David in his pre-Talking Heads years.

“I remember hanging around art school in the early 70s dressing as best I could on a limited budget as a glam-rock star. I made my own leather trousers as new ones were way too expensive – I knew how to sew! – but didn’t factor in that leather stretches to fit the, um, body. So there were what we’d call knee pooches and such. It was pretty sad.

“I realised early on I’d never make a convincing glam-rock star, and I wasn’t even sure I’d have a musical career, but DB certainly liberated our thinking back in the day.”

The new issue of the Listener goes on sale on Monday.

David Byrne’s American Utopia tour (supported by Kimbra) is at TSB Arena, Wellington (sold out) November 13; Horncastle Arena, Christchurch, November 15; Spark Arena Auckland, November 17.

Latest

Doctor Who is not like your grandmother's Doctor Who
97888 2018-10-22 00:00:00Z Television

Doctor Who is not like your grandmother's Doctor W…

by Diana Wichtel

Jodie Whittaker packs a Tardis-full of do-gooders to preach intergalactic tolerance in the new Doctor Who.

Read more
The escalating crypto-war in Australia and what it means for us
97959 2018-10-22 00:00:00Z Tech

The escalating crypto-war in Australia and what it…

by Peter Griffin

Australia is pushing ahead with plans to make it mandatory for tech companies to help law enforcement agencies when required. But what are the risks?

Read more
Shedding new light on New Zealand's first arrivals
97569 2018-10-21 00:00:00Z History

Shedding new light on New Zealand's first arrivals…

by Sally Blundell

Artefacts support the case for a planned settlement in New Zealand from East Polynesia.

Read more
Where New Zealand's next big earthquake is going to strike
97729 2018-10-21 00:00:00Z Science

Where New Zealand's next big earthquake is going t…

by Sally Blundell

The country is about due for a big quake, and it may not be along the Alpine Fault.

Read more
Lady Gaga steals the show in A Star Is Born
97892 2018-10-21 00:00:00Z Movies

Lady Gaga steals the show in A Star Is Born

by Fiona Rae

Lady Gaga's trajectory as an actor is in no doubt in Bradley Cooper’s take on a classic showbiz tale.

Read more
Into the wild: The photographer who captures the most remote parts of NZ
97391 2018-10-21 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Into the wild: The photographer who captures the m…

by Joanna Wane

Photographer Stephan Romer doesn't do "pretty", a word that’s far too flimsy to describe the vastness of his panoramic landscapes. He does "drama".

Read more
Zealandia: The story of the hidden continent beneath New Zealand
97549 2018-10-20 00:00:00Z History

Zealandia: The story of the hidden continent benea…

by Sally Blundell

The maps are wrong. Or, at least, incomplete. New Zealand is not a chain of islands strung along the coast of Australia.

Read more
The myth of New Zealand's predator-free history
97556 2018-10-20 00:00:00Z Science

The myth of New Zealand's predator-free history

by Sally Blundell

Early New Zealand echoed to the sound of birds, secure from the furry predators of other continents, until recently. Right? Wrong.

Read more