Anticipation for the Talking Heads’ arrival backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night was high; reporters hung around waiting until well past midnight. And when David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison and Chris Frantz finally showed, there was only the briefest of silences before the question came up: “How did it feel to play together and are there plans for a reunion?”
“One thing at a time,” Harrison said, diplomatically. “It was great tonight.”
The band addressed the issues that had kept them from performing together for eighteen years, claiming that reports of acrimony were exaggerated. “People perceived us as being angry at each other and to a great extent that was a false perception,” Frantz said. “On the other hand we haven’t played together for a very long time, so it’s wonderful to be back together, and I think we’re all very grateful to have a happy night like this and to have a good vibe. We’re dipped in gold.”
Byrne admitted that the band was in talks with Rhino Records about the possibility of releasing a box set that would likely be larger than their previous retrospective, 1992’s two-CD Sand in the Vaseline.
Earlier in the evening, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers also addressed potentially buried hatchets, as Petty fielded a question about performing with departed members Stan Lynch and Ron Blair. “Like rolling off a log, baby,” Petty said. “It was great.” Petty also fielded questions about his next album (“Man, is this one good. This is one you’re gonna wanna buy personally”), the band’s name (“Well, women really can’t resist us; it’s really been a problem”) and “I Won’t Back Down”‘s role as a patriotic anthem (“The song has also been adopted by nice people for good things too. I just write ’em, I can’t control where it ends up”). Petty, notorious and legendary for criticizing industry practices, softened his rhetoric a bit with regards to the Rock Hall. “It’s very easy to be cynical about the Hall of Fame, if you want to,” he said. “You don’t have to look really far, especially at 2,500 bucks a dinner. On the other hand it’s a very beautiful thing for someone like me, who’s dedicated my entire life to this music from the age of ten. It’s really all I’ve known and the list of people in this is really impressive to me. To be added to that list, I have to thank our audience and our peers.”
Isaac Hayes expressed wonder at being inducted, but suggested he knew he was marked for stardom from an early age. “I always had a dream,” he said. “When I was a kid in Covington, Tennessee, I used to stand in the fields and watch the planes going overhead. And I said, ‘One day I’m gonna be on that plane going somewhere.’ And when I used to cut lawns, for people in these big fine homes, I said, ‘I need one of these one day.’ Or fine cars — ‘That’s what I’m gonna be driving one day.’ I never gave up on the dream. I think if you work hard enough to realize your dream you can have it.”
Dee Dee Ramone took a predictably lighter view of his band’s accomplishments. “I think it means we’re very lucky,” he said of being inducted. “We have like unlimited luck potential. We worked for everything we got, but we still have charmed existences.”