Same as he ever was

By MICHAEL ATCHISON  |  November 26, 2008

YOU'LL BE PLAYING IN NEW BEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS, JUST OUTSIDE OF PROVIDENCE. PEOPLE NORMALLY ASSOCIATE YOU WITH NEW YORK, BUT FOLKS IN AND AROUND PROVIDENCE HAVE A PROVINCIAL FEELING ABOUT YOU. ENROLLING AT RISD WAS AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH TO ROCK AND ROLL IMMORTALITY. DOES IT FEEL AT ALL DIFFERENT TO GO TO A PLACE YOU'RE CONNECTED TO SO DEEPLY IN YOUR PAST?
I'm aware that there's that perception that I have that connection there, and I did live there for a couple of years at least. I kind of know the town from that time, and it's changed a lot. The town has opened up a lot. It was a really weird place then. The river was pretty much completely paved over. There were a couple of little spots in the concrete where you could look, little slots, and go, "There's the river down there. That's the river. That's the reason for this town's existence. There it is, down there." Now they've opened it up. Lots of cities are having hard times, but at least they're trying.

I'VE SAVED THIS QUESTION FOR LAST, BUT I AM COMPELLED TO ASK. IT IS DEEPLY ROOTED IN LOCAL LORE THAT THE FOREARM-CHOPPING MOVEMENT IMMORTALIZED IN THE "ONCE IN A LIFETIME" VIDEO IS, IN FACT, A NOD TO YOUR DAYS WORKING IN A PROVIDENCE WIENER JOINT.
[laughs] Well, I did work in a wiener joint, but if you look at the video, the source of the movement is right there in the video. It's from Yoyogi Park in Tokyo. They had all these street dancers — they still have street dancers — in the park, and I videotaped some of them. And there's a whole group that does kind of rockabilly stuff, and there's other ones that do this kind of weird, spacey stuff, and that's what I gravitated to. And some of them were doing that movement and other movements, and I just thought, "Where the hell did that come from? What is that? That's completely unrelated to any kind of movement that I've seen before." But yeah, I did work in a hot dog place where you'd put hot dogs up your arm. You'd kind of extend your arm and stack, like, eight hot dogs up. And then drip hot chili sauce all over them. Pretty disgusting.

DAVID BYRNE | Zeiterion Theatre, 684 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA | November 30 at 8 pm | $65 + $55 | 508.994.2900 | zeiterion.org + Fox Theatre at Foxwoods, 39 Norwich-Westerly Rd, Mashantucket, CT | December 5 at 9 pm | $55 | ticketmaster.com

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