David Byrne: ‘My agent says I’m having a Leonard Cohen moment’

Milan’s most chi-chi restaurant is shut on Monday lunchtimes – unless you’re very special. Observer Food Monthly spends an afternoon in Byrne’s world

Considering he once made an album called More Songs About Buildings and Food – the second Talking Heads record, released in 1978 – it feels fitting to meet David Byrne in an arresting new tower in Milan designed by the acclaimed Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Whenever Byrne arrives in a city, even if it’s only for a few hours before a show, the 66-year-old musician likes to see some culture, grab something interesting to eat and ride his bike. Going to Ristorante Torre, which is sandwiched between six floors of Hirsts, Koons and Höllers belonging to Miuccia Prada and her Prada Foundation, ticks all those boxes.

Byrne arrives on a canary-yellow rental bicycle (his fold-up is on the tour bus en route from Spain). He started cycling in New York in the late 1970s when it was the preserve of “loners, losers, maniacs and nerds”. The other members of Talking Heads used to make fun of him, calling him Pee-wee Herman, after the dorky TV character, but on the current tour he has subsidised a small fleet of fold-ups and many of his band join him on his excursions.

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