In this time of social and political unrest in the world, David Byrne would rather look at what's making the world a better place.
On his new album, American Utopia, Byrne says he portrays the state of the country today. But the album isn't a political one, the message is positive and Byrne adds that he started writing most of the songs before the 2016 election—not that the result of that changed his thinking much.
"The country was already in a pretty divisive state—not just this country, but other countries around the world," Byrne tell Q104.3 New York's "Out of the Box" with Jonathan Clarke of the time in which he began writing American Utopia. "I viewed the Trump election and the Trump phenomena as kind of a symptom of other trends and concerns and worries and anxieties that are being manifested in this country and in other countries all over the world."
Byrne says the new album is about the concerns of the present and his hopes for the future. While the future may seem bleak, the former Talking Heads frontman says he stays optimistic, in part because the present reminds him so much of something he lived through.
"I was in high school during the height of Vietnam protests and stuff like that—this would be in the late-'60s," Byrne tells the show. "It was very divisive in a different way because it was a war that was dividing everyone. It was kind of like the government versus the people in some ways. Kids were not speaking to their parents, schools were being divided. It was really the country very much divided in two."
The singer says the future looked bleak in the '60s too, but America persevered and ultimately became a better place that it was.
"You wondered, How is this ever going to heal?'" Byrne recalls. "Well, eventually, it kind of did. And so this too shall pass."
Byrne hasn't only been spreading his message of hopefulness in his new music. He also performed a lecture last year called "Reasons to Be Cheerful," where he offered good news and told stories of people who shunned partisanship and other vices for the greater good.
"I started collecting things that I found encouraging and positive and [that] we could possibly look for as successful examples of 'Look! Here's an initiative that somebody tried out and it actually worked!'" Byrne said of the lecture.
Listen to the full interview above.
Get all the American Utopia World Tour dates here.
Check out the official video for the lead single from American Utopia, "Everybody's Coming to My House," below: