David Byrne Regrets Talking Heads’ Split: ‘I Was a Little Tyrant’

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The forthcoming re-release of the Talking Heads’ 1984 classic “Stop Making Sense” — which is universally regarded as one of the greatest concert films ever made — has put the long-defunct group more in the spotlight than they’ve been in decades. A day after it was announced that the four members will be onstage together for the first time since 2002 for a Q&A at the Toronto Film Festival, frontman/songwriter David Byrne has expressed some regret over the group’s contentious split in the late 1980s.

“As a younger person, I was not as pleasant to be around. When I was working on some Talking Heads shows, I was more of a little tyrant,” he told People magazine in an interview published Thursday. “And then I learned to relax, and I also learned that collaborating with people, both sides get more if there’s a good relationship instead of me telling everybody what to do.

 “I think [the end] wasn’t handled well,” he concluded. “It was kind of ugly.”

The other members of the group — cofounders Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth (who are married) and keyboardist-guitarist Jerry Harrison — have spoken out often about Byrne’s behavior; Frantz in particular took several shots at him in the 2020 memoir “Remain in Love.” He has long said that he read in a newspaper that Byrne had decided to leave the band, after nearly 20 years and eight albums.

Byrne says now, “I have regrets on how that was handled. I don’t think I did it in the best way, but I think it was kind of inevitable that would happen anyway,” he says. “We have a cordial relationship now. We’re sort of in touch, but we don’t hang out together.”

Reps for the group did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment on Thursday, but presumably Byrne’s comments will be addressed at the film festival.

The singer, who has steadfastly looked ahead for most of his post-Talking Heads career, reflected on the film as its 40 th anniversary approaches. The remastered version is released in IMAX on Sept. 22, and goes wide on Sept. 29 via A24.

“My voice is still in good shape, but there’s one backwards jump that I do, and I go, ‘How in the world did you do that?’” he said. “[But] I’m curious. I’m hopeful that a wider, kind of younger audience will get to see this and see what we’ve done. I’m optimistic that it’s going to reach a different audience that wasn’t aware of a lot of this stuff.”

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