Same as he ever was

By MICHAEL ATCHISON  |  November 26, 2008

MY GUESS IS THAT IF HE HAD BEEN GIVEN THE DISC WITHOUT YOUR NAME ON IT, HE WOULDN'T HAVE MADE THE CONNECTION.
[laughs] That's probably true. Maybe he was looking for an angle for his story.

YOU HAVE FREQUENTLY CREATED MUSIC THAT HAS BEEN USED AS PART OF SOME BROADER PROJECT, LIKETHE CATHERINE WHEEL [A TWYLA THARP DANCE PRODUCTION] ORTRUE STORIES [BYRNE'S OWN FILM]. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT THAT PROCESS?
When it works, with something that has a visual element, be it dance or TV show or movie, it's one of those things where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The music benefits in a way that it couldn't if you just had it by itself. You get this whole mood and connection and story, movement, space. You get all that to work, and it's really great. And you get thrown all these little challenges. There's the puzzle-solving aspect of scoring that's kind of fun. Someone else is telling you, "I need it to be this long, and to have this mood, and for something to happen here."

EnoByrne1_dannyclinch.jpg
DYNAMIC DUO: “I really respect the stuff that he does,” Byrne says of Eno. “I’m a fan.”

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE TOUR, BUT FIRST I SHOULD NOTE THAT YOU'VE RECENTLY BECOME NEW YORK CITY'S MOST PROMINENT DESIGNER OF BICYCLE RACKS. [laughs] Yeah, okay.

I'VE SEEN THEM, AND I'M SURE IT'S AN IDEA THAT HAS MADE A LOT OF PEOPLE SLAP THEIR HEADS, LIKE, "OF COURSE. WHYCOULDN'T YOU MAKE THOSE THINGS BOTH FUNCTIONAL AND WHIMSICAL?" WHAT HAS THE REACTION BEEN?
It's been like that, people going, "Oh, this is such a great thing for you to do." The sad part is that mine are sort of "one-off" things because of the complicated shapes that some of them are, and they're for specific neighborhoods. And they're expensive to make. They don't solve the specific problem of having enough bike racks in enough places in the city.

THEY WORK AS PIECES OF ART.
Yeah, and they also do what you said. They kind of say, "Look, this doesn't have to be boring and serious." It can reflect the excitement and wackiness and unexpectedness of life in this city. Civic stuff doesn't have to put you to sleep.

OK, THE TOUR. ONE QUESTION EVERYONE ASKS: WHY COULDN'T BRIAN ENO BE COAXED OUT ON THE ROAD?
I don't know. You'd have to ask him.

HE'S SORT OF NOTORIOUSLY RETICENT.
I've heard that he's stage shy, but I also can see all the reasons. He can make a lot more money working with U2 or Coldplay, and put a lot less effort in. It's a lot of work going on the road. And there's not going to be much to see. You're going to see a bald guy sitting behind some gear, twiddling knobs and shit. That's about it.

I SAW THE SHOW A FEW WEEKS BACK. I NOTED BEFORE HOW DIFFERENT THE NEW ALBUM SOUNDS THAN YOUR PREVIOUS COLLABORATIONS, AND YOU PLAY MOST OF THE NEW SONGS IN THE SHOW. STILL THEY SEEM TO FIT PERFECTLY WITH SONGS THAT ARE MORE THAN 25 YEARS OLD NOW. WAS IT HARD TO MAKE IT SO SEAMLESS?
No. I'm lucky I have quite a backlog of material to draw from. I could kind of rewrite my own history every time I go out, and say, "If I do this song and this song and this song, it's gonna fit with the current stuff." And if I do "The Great Curve" or some of these other songs, the singers that I have to do the new stuff, they're going to sound incredible doing the old stuff.

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