INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Wired APRIL 5, 2009 - by Bruce Sterling
POP MUSIC IS LIKE THE DAILY PAPER
I'm afraid that Brian Eno may be quite correct here - pop music "really is" like the daily paper, with all that implies.
"When I finish something I want it out that day," says Eno later, in a phone conversation. "Pop music is like the daily paper. Its got to be there then, not six months later. So we decided to release on our websites first, then put it on the commercial websites, then as a CD, then with different packaging. It's just trying to see what works. The business is an exciting mess at the moment." ("new world chaos")
But utilising technology was not an end in itself; the heart of the album was Byrne and Eno's desire to make music that was communal and inclusive, something exemplified when Eno invited Byrne to join a meeting of his local Maida Vale singing group. "He invites a group of friends round," Byrne says. "It's an a cappella type of thing with wine and cheese. They sing a Hank Williams or an Everly Brothers songs - easy songs to sing. No one takes the lead. Everyone finds their place."
"We had been working in parallel, and found ourselves drawn to music of the people - gospel music, for example - music designed to include people," says Eno. "I would say it's an embrace of a certain kind of emotionalism over a literary or intellectual approach. [The music] is not exclusive. It's not clever music. It's music that's evolved to allow people to take part. David and I talked about music as form of surrender, so you stop being 'me' and start being 'us'. The social aspect to music has always interested me. It's the possibility of losing yourself."
The opposite of what they are doing, says Eno, would be the work of Frank Zappa. "Zappa was very technical and impressed by things that were musically challenging - weird time signatures, strange keys, awkward chord sequences. Zappa was important to me as an example of everything I didn't want to do. I'm very grateful to him, actually." (I must say here that I have always admired Eno's intelligence. He's just plain not bothered by other people's oxymoronic limitations. Zappa was quite smart, but Eno is really intelligent.)
"It was a lot more intellectualised before," Byrne says, trying to outline the differences between the pair's first collaborations and this latest one. "Now this feels like I am drawing on an old kind of emotional song. I find the new songs like My Big Nurse a lot more moving. A lot of the new songs are about hope in the face of fear, paranoia, terror or whatever." ("new world whatever")