This Week: A Talking Heads Cover Band Worth Talking About

July 7, 2014

This Week: A Talking Heads Cover Band Worth Talking About

by Stacey A.

Arcata-based Naive Melodies is hands down my favorite cover band of all time. For brief moments during their shows (and occasionally after a few drinks), I convince myself I am actually watching Talking Heads play live. I've seen them play three times, and I cannot wait for my fourth Naive Melodies show this Friday at the Crystal Bay Club. They go on at 10 p.m. in the Crown Room, and it's free! I caught up with the band this week for a quick interview. 

When did the band form, and how has it evolved?
The band formed in early 2011, mostly just as what seemed like a fun idea to try.  We started off learning a lot of the earlier material, enjoying its edgy, upbeat quirkiness, along with other songs we happened to like.  Much like it actually was for Talking Heads, being a 3-piece posed some limitations, so we'd play songs that fit our musical arrangement, often based on how authentically we could reproduce it.  From the start, there was an overwhelmingly awesome response from the audience, inspiring us to keep pushing the envelope, adding synthesizers, samplers, special guests and more.  This has allowed us to continue delving deeper into the Heads catalog, working out songs with more complex arrangements/sounds that came about as the band evolved.  

Why Talking Heads? Are there any other bands you like covering?
Talking Heads have an uncanny number of incredible hits (known and unknown), and many of the songs have parts that loop continuously, keeping you dancing the whole time.  Often, fans come to a show thinking they'll hear just the 1 or 2 songs that they know, only to find they recognize the majority of the music being played.  Generally, as Naive Melodies, we stick to Talking Heads' catalog, but there are many other bands we enjoy covering, and will break out at a show when the moment calls for it.   Some additional bands we enjoy covering are the Doors, Soulive, the Meters, Beastie Boys, Booker T and the MG's, and other funky sounds of that nature.

What's difficult about being a cover band?
When you're writing your own music, you play the parts you want to play with the sounds you want to hear.  When you're learning someone else's music, you often have to learn new patterns/techniques that you might not normally use, find the sounds that best match the original (using different equipment), and most importantly, have to meet the expectations of the audience, based on their familiarity and love for the original material.  The upside of having learned so many covers is that it forces you to expand your abilities, enhances your musical palette, and strengthens versatility when working in unfamiliar territory.

How do you keep some originality in your music?
Because the music is so well and widely known, we do our absolute best to reproduce the Talking Heads with the highest possible level of authenticity, which is a challenge in itself.  The fun, original elements tend to come in the form of segues/jams we have between the songs, making the set sound like a DJ spinning records from one song to the next, keeping the music going for the whole set.

Have you seen Talking Heads perform live? 
Unfortunately, none of us have had the pleasure of seeing even just David Byrne perform solo, let alone with Talking Heads.  The interesting thing is how much the music and David Byrne's tastes have evolved since the band's inception in the 70's.  I imagine it'd have been pretty awesome to see them at any point, and even more so to have caught them a few times, to see how the sounds and arrangements changed over the years.

What's the most bizarre or interesting experience you've had while touring?
Too many to tell, though there was this one time that we... well, we'll have to tell you in person.

I'm going to hold them to it.


B-12 Happy Hour: Natura Med in Kings Beach, Tuesday 4-5:30 p.m., $20 
Yoga Squaw'd: First Street in the Squaw Valley Village, Wednesday 5 p.m., Free
Acupuncture Happy Hour: Elemental Back and Body Truckee, Friday 4-6 p.m., $20
Truckee Tahoe Air Show & Family Festival: Truckee Tahoe Airport, Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (aerial events starting at 11:30 a.m.), Free 


Our intern, Stacey Alonzo, is an outdoor enthusiast, yoga instructor, aspiring journalist, Burner, and lover of food, drinks, live music, and travel.