Talking Heads - How Did I Get Here?

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

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I was working for a sound equipment company in London when the boss barged in: "Frank, get your arse in gear, and drive to Switzerland to meet two American punk bands flying in to kick off a European tour."

With a head full of speed and a truck filled with gear, two of us sped across Europe arriving on the day of the show. I knew of the Ramones but had never heard of Talking Heads. It was April 1977 and Punk was up.

The Volkshaus in Zurich was a 1200-seater built in an Art Nouveau style. Talking Heads arrived. They didn’t look anything like the Ramones. No leather jackets or matching haircuts. I didn’t know what to make of their look. I’d never seen people like this. They looked like they had no style at all. Why were they playing with a New York rock and roll punk band? Wasn’t punk about outrage and image? 

They had no sound person with them. We set up the rig and the band plugged in. I shouted at each one of them, "Drummer. Bass. Guitar. Singer." to get the signal. That was it, maybe half a song. I stood at the board waiting to hear what this strange bunch of Americans was about to deliver. 

Up came the throbbing bass line, and the jagged guitar, and then the pounding drums - Psycho Killer. The hairs shot up on my neck. From the sound booth, I watched faces stare in wonderment. And the crowd danced. This was something else, a unique sound. After the show, I hurried backstage, and told the drummer, "I don't know what the fuck this is, but I want in." I became Talking Heads soundman right then and there.

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