KCRW Rewind — David Byrne & Host Tom Schnabel

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Photo by Steve Laufer

The first time David Byrne came to MBE in the early 1980s, he wasn’t very talkative.

I think it was around the time the “Knee Plays album came out in 1985, an album Byrne composed for Robert Wilson’s opera the CIVIL warS.

He seemed diffident and awkward, and the sentences he uttered didn’t come out very smoothly.

It wasn’t easy. Maybe part of the reason was that theKnee Plays was a very different animal from his other solo albums and his wildly popular Talking Heads records.

The next time he came was in 1991, when the Brazilian album “Rei Momo” (Carnaval King) came out.

I was doing a night time show and he came in to master control, out of breath, late, and worried about his car, which was illegally parked near the West Entrance. I told him I’d move the car because I knew where I could park it.

He told me “nobody knows how to drive my car!”

I asked him what kind of a car it was. He said, “It’s a Citroën”. I told him I owned a 1963 DS 19 and knew all about the car, including how to drive it.

He smiled and I took care of the car. From that moment of car-bonding, we were friends and the interview went great.

citroen
Citroen

Editor’s Note: For those unaware, Tom was KCRW’s first Music Director and is still an important part of the station, hosting Rhythm Planet.

KCRW has been based in the basement of the Santa Monica College campus for decades and there are many funny stories that revolve around the awkwardness of the location in the center of campus, with no parking nearby.