This Must Be the Band
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This Must Be the Band

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"This Must Be the Band"

For me, the most difficult aspect of being a music journalist is staying relatively objective in the face of my own entrenched opinions. After a lifetime of listening to music across a wide spectrum of genres, it becomes tricky to approach new bands, new songs and new styles without a preconceived notion of how any of the above should sound. During my formative years as a critical listener, I had no problem absorbing the music buffeting my ears. I could get lost in a song, fully focusing on the moment. Not anymore. New music garners comparisons to older songs, often getting tangled in a giant web of "it's been done before." I find myself yearning for something completely different, if only to be able to lose myself again.

With this attitude in mind, it is little surprise that I've often held cover bands in low esteem. Cover bands take the stage when a venue fails to find a real act. They imitate other groups because they lack the talent to write compelling music of their own. Cover bands amount to little more than glorified karaoke...or so I had come to believe.

So when This Must Be the Band invited me to their performance in Chicago, I was more than a tad skeptical. Chicago is a long way to go to hear dated music. What's worse, I knew virtually nothing about the Talking Heads, the focus of the group's efforts. As I rode into Chicago with a few friends, I resigned to the fact that I probably wouldn't enjoy the music, and vowed to drink myself into a more complacent state of mind.

What ensued was nothing short of amazing. This Must Be the Band took the stage at Martyr's Nightclub, and proceeded to thoroughly dominate a two-hour set. Their look was unique (and I would later learn, quite representative of an original Talking Heads show), and their live sound breathed new life into a catalogue of songs over 20 years old. Perhaps it was my unfamiliarity with the Talking Heads, or perhaps it was the energy of their onstage performance, but This Must Be the Band managed to sell me on the idea of cover bands. Still, shaking off the idea that cover bands are inferior to an original band would be difficult. I was determined to address these feelings as I interviewed Charlie Otto, singer for This Must Be the Band.


First off, why the Talking Heads as opposed to any other band out there?

At one point, I remember sitting here at Martyr's (because I work here), and watching a tribute band. I thought, "Wow, that looks like a lot of fun," and was thinking of bands that I like, and this one is the only one that I could do.

Dozens of bands cite Talking Heads as an influence, and many of these bands play covers of their songs. Do you find yourself compared not only to the Talking Heads, but also to cover songs they may be famous for in a different sense? When you approach a song, do you find yourself thinking not only of the original, but also about a cover someone else has done?

Yeah. Our drummer especially keeps bringing up that we have to do stuff more like Phish does it, and I tell him that's a horrible idea....well, Phish is a bad example because they do horrible covers of Talking Heads. There are also good versions of things, and I really like them. Honestly, I work at this place and I see three bands a night, and Talking Heads are covered more than anybody else by far.

I was told that Talking Heads incorporated elements of multimedia into their performances. Do you have plans to do this in the future if you continue with This Must Be the Band?

We started doing that tonight, not multimedia, but bringing other musicians onto the stage later in the show, which is one thing the Talking Heads did. As soon as we can, we're going to try and do anything that they put together.

Give me your thoughts on the lyrics, because Talking Heads are known for their abstract lyrics.

[David Byrne] said this himself, but he's not very good at writing traditional songs, and this is the way it came out for him. He's just weird enough that normal people are all about it. He just says anything that sounds good. It's not about what it means but more about what it sounds like. I don't know why. As far as his lyrics go, he's like Beck. Beck is much more of an eloquent version of him.

My friends and I were talking about this on the way up. He would make random sounds with his voice and found words that sounded like the random sounds. Do you think that happens for a lot of their songs?

I have no idea. I don't need more words to define what he's saying. I just feel the way I feel and that's good enough.

Where do you see this going in the future? To be honest, I don't know where it would go because (I would think) a cover band's ambitions tend to be limited to the band that they cover. You can learn every song by a particular band but you can't play new songs.

I'm going to get sick of it at one point because of that music, but right now it's so much fun. Think of it this way: In the past mo - Playback STL

"This Must Be the Band!"

A local Chicago band, This Must Be The Band is a Talking Heads Tribute Band and plays songs exclusively from the Heads' huge catalog of music. I was lucky enough to attend their sold out show at Martyr's in Chicago on November 1st and it was not something I'll forget anytime soon. This Must Be The Band took on the huge undertaking of recreating the classic concert movie Stop Making Sense nearly shot for shot and in my opinion it was an incredible success.

This Must Be The Band

Charlie Otto as David Byrne
Cover bands are mostly hit or miss- usually put together to play songs that everyone already knows and can sing along to in order to make a few bucks and get the audience into a good mood to buy more alcohol.

Tribute bands are another thing entirely. While they still play music that is not their own, there is often a passion there for the song that is simply not present in your run-of-the-mill band. Although This Must Be The Band has only been together since May of 2007, when they got into a good groove on stage they looked just as tight as any band I've ever seen. Obviously the members of the band have a genuine affection for the material that they are performing, and that feeling didn't take long to translate into an excited, energetic audience that only made the whole experience better.

Charlie Otto (lead singer, guitar) as David Byrne was a revelation- besides the music itself, The Talking Heads were famous for the pure energy channeled by David Byrne in concert and it's unlikely that they will ever play together again as a band. "We did have a lot of bad blood go down. That's one reason, and another is that musically we're just miles apart," said Byrne. Otto brought a youthful, renewed spirit to old Heads' songs that I hadn't really heard in person before. Otto had a few small problems with the lower register of Byrne's vocals, but overall his voice was very smooth and pulled all of the instruments together in the mix in a way that most established bands can only hope for.

Kasey Foster and Leah Karabenick (backing vocals) surprised me as well- it's not often that you hear such great voices from a local band. Designating their performance as "backing vocals" though is probably far undercutting their actual role in the night's production. If everyone on stage was having fun, these girls were off-the-wall insane! I can't imagine having seen the concert without the sheer excitement that was dripping off of them and into the audience.

Other highlights of the show include Pat Sweeney's (percussion) performance- running back and forth from behind his instruments to the other side of the stage every few minutes must have been a little exhausting, but he surely didn't show any signs of slowing down and I think everyone was surprised when he didn't collapse into a heap on the stage after the concert had ended!

The Big Suit, an extra large version of a business suit created by David Byrne to wear on stage, was also recreated for this concert and went a long way toward being faithful to the original concert movie. This Must Be The Band had encouraged their fans to dress up in clothes from the 80's, and at points during the evening (a few drinks may have helped) I felt as though I was at the original filming of Stop Making Sense.

There's much more to write, but no reason to keep you here when you could already be listening to some classic Talking Heads tunes via This Must Be The Band on their MySpace page or going to one of their shows in and around the Chicago area.. - Buzz News

"Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense comes to life This Must Be the Band follows the cover act routine at Canopy Club"

It's a bit hard to review a cover band. After all, what are you reviewing—the band's originality, or their ability to perfectly mimic the band they are covering?

Even as I write this review, I'm not sure how to answer that, but This Must Be The Band, a Talking Heads cover band, did a really good job of being a cover band on Saturday night at The Canopy Club.

The group did their best to replicate the Talking Heads' 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, and for the most part it was accurate, even down to the statements the band yells out between songs and testing the drums for sound.

The show started out, just like the movie, with David Byrne (played by Charlie Otto) coming out with just an acoustic guitar, playing the song "Psycho Killer" with an electronic drum beat. As the show wears on, more and more band members come on stage, culminating as a band five songs into the set.

The running order was the same ("Psycho Killer" to "Crosseyed and Painless"), and a lot of times, it was easy to get lost in the music. The band did such a spot-on impression of the Talking Heads (complete with Byrne's spastic stage presence and the backup singer's dancing), that the music felt like it wasn't being covered note-for-note—it felt organic, like this was a unique performance, but of course it wasn't, and that's to their credit.

Still, the band struggled with any material that didn't require the full nine-piece band. Songs like "Found a Job" and "This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)" have a more delicate sound, and instead This Must Be the Band tried to make them sound larger. It didn't work, and two of the best songs from the movie got swallowed up.

Still, on rave-ups like "Take Me to the River" and "Life During Wartime," the band was spot-on. The confidence was there, perhaps knowing that any mistakes made could be covered up by any of the eight other members.

After the band completed Stop Making Sense, the band returned for a set of non-movie songs. Again, the cover band steered more towards the big-band sound, taking most songs from the 1980 album Remain in Light ("Cities" and "Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)" were great covers), and occasionally veering into later-era material ("(Nothing But) Flowers" was a definite highlight). And the same as the main set, the band struggled with early, sparser material like "New Feeling."

The band closed with "And She Was," and while it wasn't the best way to go out, it was great to see the songs performed live. David Byrne has long shown disdain for pulling the original Talking Heads back together, so fans will have to settle for the occasional cover band (or Byrne solo tours). That's not always such a bad thing, even if it will never replace the original. - the217


Go to for more songs and videos from the last "Stop Making Sense" show.



This Must Be the Band is the Midwest's premiere Talking Heads Tribute. With a rapidly expanding repertoire from the Talking Heads' catalog of countless hits, TMBTB highlights the best of the Talking Heads, equipped with their very own Bernie Worrell, Adrian Belew, Lynn Mabry, and Ednah Holt.
TMBTB carries with it the spirit of the Talking Heads, with plenty of improvisation and experimentation in its live performance. In this way, they are very different from most tribute bands, and every show is unique. However, on November 1st, 2008, they performed the famous concert film “Stop Making Sense” to a sold out crowd at Martyrs’ Pub, showing that it could also recreate a performance note for note. Everything was the same, from the boombox to the big suit.
TMBTB is available for any gathering where people need to dance: parties, corporate events, weddings, bars, etc.