How Not To Join A Famous Band.
in 1980 I received a call asking me to come to new york city to rehearse for four days in order to learn the Talking Heads record remain in light. only months before I had recorded the record all in one day with the heads and brian eno. talking heads had the idea to expand their normal quartet to a thumping funky 10-piece band with two bass players, two keyboard players, two guitar players, two female back-up singers, one drummer and one percussionist. and we were going to learn the very layered studio monster remain in light in four days and then play two shows! somehow we did it, we learned the record and several songs from other records. but just barely. and just in time to board a plane for our first show in toronto. only then did we see the whole enchilada. our first show was a festival of 70,000 people! they flew us to the vast backstage area in helicopters. looking down at the sea of tiny flesh baffles, I was nervous enough to jump out in mid-air. it seemed like all the hip bands of the moment were present. the B-52's, the pretenders, elvis costello, the clash. it was called the heatwave festival, billed as the first "new wave" festival, and was actually in a place called mosport park.
dave edmunds and nick lowe played. the pretenders played. the B 52's played. minutes before we were set to play I opened the door to our backstage trailer to discover most of the band snorting lines of coke from the backs of guitars. they quickly shooed me away, knowing I didn't partake.
the timing of our performance was fortuitous; just as the sun was setting. I joined the original four heads to play psycho killer, then the full band was brought onstage. we launched right into the new material. no one in the audience even knew the remain in light record as yet but it didn't matter. the band was smoking! halfway through our set we played a song from fear of music called I zimbra. on the recorded version robert had played a fast running guitar line. as soon as we started that song I could tell the coke had kicked in. we played it twice as fast as it was on the record! my fingers had a hard time keeping up and I was worried our 45-minute set might be over in 20. but it all worked out. the band was an instant success.
for our second show we played in central park but only 125,000 people showed up! at the time you couldn't go into a bookstore, bar, record shop, or restaurant without hearing talking heads music in the background. (kind of like rascal flatts in mt. juliet nowadays.) it was an exciting time to be in the band. david, chris, tina, and jerry decided to keep the 10-piece funk machine rolling for a whole world tour including japan and europe. it was a wacky cast of characters to live with and we had loads of fun.
we flew to london to begin the european leg of the tour. the night we arrived after an exhausting transatlantic flight, the whole bunch of us went to a fancy russian restaurant. we were a large party of course and they kept us happily waiting in the upstairs lounge by bringing around trays of flaming shots of flavored vodkas. the waiting area was rather crowded with us and other patrons all standing tightly together. another tray of flaming vodkas swept past and I noticed the lady standing beside me began to smoke. her hair had caught on fire! I tried to put her out without being offensive to a complete stranger but it wasn't easy. that was just the beginning of the madness. a lot of trays were emptied before we were ever seated. I was not used to drinking hard and hot liquor. I do recall a food fight broke out with perogies and caviar flying everywhere. but I can't say what the food tasted like. I can't remember.
the next morning my hotel room phone rang an unfamiliar shrill. it was 9 in the morning. robert fripp (who I barely knew) was calling, "hello adrian, I know you're not one to go raving so I figured it was safe to call you early. did I wake you up?" "no no, that's okay, I had to get up to answer the phone anyway", I muttered. my head felt like it was peeling apart like scalded wallpaper. "well look, bill bruford and I want to start a band with you." wow! two of my all-time favorite legendary players wanted to start a band with me. now my head was throbbing in the stratosphere. too much information.
"okay.."I said feebly.
"but could you..call me back in a..few...hours?"