It’s sometimes difficult as a writer to conjure words that serve justice to how important and influential certain bands are to our music scene, and really, to our society as a whole. The Talking Heads may just be the epitome of those bands. Forming in NYC in 1975, The Talking Heads were such a crucial part in the 70’s and 80’s music scene of NYC. Though they no longer play, we are lucky to have the devoted tribute group, Start Making Sense, to keep the spirit of their music and live performance alive.
In anticipation for their upcoming show at Irving Plaza with Pink Talking Fish on Saturday, October 21st we got to talk to Jon from Start Making Sense about the upcoming show, with full interlocking sets from the two bands.
CEG: Hey Jon, To kick things off, you’re performing in New York CIty with
your band Start Making Sense: A Talking Heads Tribute, at Irving Plaza
on October 21st. Could you tell us a bit about your history performing
in the city, and what it’s like playing in the hometown of the Talking
Jon: Well it’s always an honor to be playing at Irving Plaza. It’s
such a legendary venue. Most of the band was born and raised in the
NYC/NJ/PA area, so growing up we were very lucky to be able to see
countless amazing shows at Irving Plaza. We pinch ourselves every time
we step on stage there! Quite a few of us also played at CBGB’s, the
Wetlands, the Continental etc in our youth. So our personal
performance history in NYC runs very deep. Start Making Sense
actually played our first NYC show at Sullivan Hall/The Lions Den
(speaking of defunct clubs from long ago!). Howie at CEG was very
kind in giving us an opportunity early on when we didn’t have a very
large draw and we are super thankful that he took a chance on us.
Playing in NYC has always been an honor. It’s the best city in the world
right?! So when you add to it that it is also the hometown of Talking
Heads, it just makes the shows that much more special. As much as
NYC has changed over the years there is still a very specific feel to
this city that was obviously a huge influence on Talking Heads. You
can still feel a lot of those things, even now in NYC. So we try to
hone in on that feeling and present it to the audience as best we can.
CEG: How are your plans and setlists coming along for playing with Pink
Talking Fish? What can we expect to see with both bands playing full,
Jon: The sets are coming along great! Eric Gould from Pink Talking
Fish and I are actually finishing up the sets tomorrow. We’ve been
working on them for quite some time. The idea is that there will be
non stop music all night. Each band is playing 2 sets but the music
won’t stop in b/w sets. One band will be coming on as the other is
going off mid-song, or at the beginning/end of a song. We’ll have
both bands set up next to each other basically. We will be sticking
to the Talking Heads material for the most part. But both bands will be playing
together on some songs and sitting in with each other as
well. It’s going to be a really special event. We’ve spent a lot of
time going back and forth with ideas on how to transition from set to
set. And how to make the night flow musically between both bands.
Making sure that every night of this 3-day run we’re doing is
different. Not only will the sets for both bands be different every
night, but the transitions and transition songs between the sets will
be different every night too! It’s been a lot of work but I really
enjoy working with Eric on this type of thing. He’s obviously quite
adept at melding a bunch of different ideas together!
CEG: What can you share with us about any new (old) Talking Heads songs you
may be incorporating into your catalog? With such an immense catalog,
there have to be some Talking Heads songs Start Making Sense has yet
to perform live, right?
Jon: Of course! For being a band that was only recording for about
10 years, Talking Heads really do have quite a large catalog. 8 studio
albums plus a ton of unreleased, b sides, and live versions. I do
have a list of the songs we haven’t done yet. There really aren’t as
many lefts as I thought! We also throw in some David Byrne solo songs
and other random things from time to time. Some of the later material
gets more difficult to perform live because we don’t have a horn or
string section. So that has kept us from diving into quite a few
things on the Naked album. But a few songs that ARE on the list for
us to start putting in the rotation are
Sugar on My Tongue, Big Country, Popsicle and Perfect World. We’re
trying to get those into the sets before the end of the year!
CEG: Start Making Sense has a lot of shows booked for this fall, anything
special we can expect for the upcoming shows?
Jon: Well we are all really excited for these 3 shows with Pink
Talking Fish. These are going to be unique shows for both bands.
We’ve never done anything like this before. Then we have 2 shows the
weekend of Halloween which is always fun. As a band, we take Halloween
very seriously. Last year we were the cast of the Big Lebowski.
We’ll be doing our annual X-mas to New Year’s Eve run this year which
is always amazing because we bring out a slightly larger band on those
shows than our normal touring band. There are also some international
shows in the works right now for 2018 so hopefully, those can happen.
And next summer we’re going to be doing our 2nd recreation of the
entire Stop Making Sense film. We did it in our hometown of Bethlehem
PA last year. But this time it will be in the NYC area !! So keep an
eye out for that!
It’s obvious this show is not going to be something to miss, tickets are still available here! Show on Saturday, October 21st, don’t miss out!