What do you do when the person you are going to interview is about to release a double-disco-concept album about the former First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, created in collaboration with Fatboy Slim and twenty different singers?
That is what David Byrne did in 2010. And the album in question was Here Lies Love.
There was only one thing to do: Study.
Every interview should be preceded by a significant amount of research, ensuring that the interviewee is not presented with questions he or she has been asked a million times before.
But in this case, it was simply not enough to study up on David Byrne. It was necessary to learn all about Imelda Marcos. To try and grasp why he had been drawn so much to her that he wanted to make a massive concept album about her story. And, also, to be able to relay the story of Imelda and president Ferdinand Marcos in a few short paragraphs, if the readers were to make any sense of the ensuing interview.
As it happened, Byrne seemed delighted at the effort to study up on the Marcoses, proving to be a most enthusiastic and frequently laughing interview subject.
Before the interview, which took place at some fancy London hotel, some colleagues from Belgium had eagerly asked: “So, are you going to ask him about a Talking Heads reunion?” It was never even considered. But maybe there was only one interviewer that day who didn’t ask such a question.