Tuesday, December 21, 2004

"Psycho Killer": Where Alice Cooper and Pete Townshend Meet

There is an interesting article about "Psycho Killer" in my new favorite magazine, mix. Here are some good bits:

Byrne noted many years ago, “‘Psycho Killer’ was written as an exercise with someone else's approach in mind. I had been listening to Alice Cooper — Billion Dollar Babies, I think — and I thought it was really funny stuff. I thought, ‘Hey, I can do this!’ It was sort of an experiment to see if I could write something.

“I thought I would write a song about a very dramatic subject the way [Alice Cooper] does, but from inside the person, playing down the drama. Rather than making it theatrical the way Alice Cooper would, I'd go for what's going on inside the killer's mind, what I imagined he might be thinking. [I have hesitated in the past to include Alice Cooper on this site, but I think he deserves to be here. He might not be truly Advanced, but I think he's close. He has influenced a lot of artists, and he was pretty unique. -JH]

Their reputation spread by word-of-mouth around New York City, and by the middle of 1976, they'd made demo tapes for Beserkley Records, Columbia Records and, at the suggestion of Lou Reed, RCA Records. [I didn't know that. -JH]

“Originally, the ending went on and didn't really do anything — there was none of the feedback; it needed more excitement. So I suggested putting the power chords on, and then I remember saying to David, ‘Just do a wild thing, like the solo in “I Can See For Miles.”’ And he went, ‘Huh? What's that?’ He didn't know The Who or Pete Townshend. I'm saying, ‘Let's get some feedback and go crazy on the end!’ So that was inspired by me telling David to imitate a solo he'd never heard. I probably even picked up a guitar and demonstrated it. David was mostly using a Gibson then, but I think there's some Strat on there as well. Tina was definitely using her Mustang bass.”
Interesting that David Byrne went from a guy who hadn't heard of Pete Townshend to a guy who covers Whitney Houston. That's what becoming Advanced is all about, of course.

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