The term New Wave was created in 1977 for a little band from New York City. The name of that band is Talking Heads.
Three distinct personalities made up Talking Heads. The debonair lead singer David Byrne, the musical craftsmanship of guitarist Jerry Harrison and the creative rhythmic team of Tina Weymouth (bass) and Chris Frantz (drums).
Chris and Tina went even further than their band relationship, they married. This year clock up 25 years (more on that later). They are still the most musically active of the foursome with their creative outlet Tom Tom Club.
2002 is a benchmark year for the career of Talking Heads, both collectively and as individuals. For Talking Heads, they are to be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Paul Cashmere spoke to Tina Weymouth.
Paul Cashmere : Tina, it is a very interesting time to catch up with you again with your Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction and performance about to happen.
Tina Weymouth : Thanks
PC: Some people such as Ozzy Osbourne tend to disregard the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it is a tremendous industry acknowledgement of your career.
TW: I think it’s really a great compliment to the people we worked with. It really is an industry reward to all those people who helped break our little band and got us to where we ended up. We are very proud of them all.
PC: That’s interesting wording, referring to the “little band”. Is that your perception of The Talking Heads career?
TW: It was a little band and then we grew. In the 80s we got to be a big band for about three years there.
Paul Cashmere: And the big news is you have you wayward lead singer (David Byrne) back for at least two songs.
Tina Weymouth: That should be fun. We are all delighted and thrilled. I think he was having a good time (down in Australia in fact). He was performing down there and we said to him “hey they want us to do two songs” and everybody wanted to do it.
PC: The two songs are a mystery still.
TW. Yeah, even two us.
PC: If I could take a bet I’d go for “Life During Wartime” as one, as that is the one song you with The Heads and Tom Tom Club, Jerry with his band and David have all done outside Talking Heads.
TW: That would make sense but we don’t always make sense. That was always a favourite of ours because of the line “this ain’t no mud club, no CBGB’s, this ain’t no fooling around”
PC: Is this the possible start for renewed Talking Heads activity or one step at a time?
TW: Everyone has there own thing going. I don’t foresee that. But you never know in life what can happen. We say never say never. Everyone is committed to what they are doing outside the band. Jerry is doing a lot of production which he is enjoying immensely. David has his band and Luka Bop records, which has a lot of multitasking. Chris and I are very busy with Tom Tom Club. It would be very hard to drop all those things at this moment. We never know what the future will bring.
PC: Well, Tom Tom Club are very good, bad and funky right now.
TW: We are having a great time right now. We have been aligning ourself with bands that are off the radio radar, in fact off any kind of radar. It is a beautiful scene that we like a lot of. It thrives.
PC: Tom Tom Club were innovative. You were pre-electronica.
TW: We were very much inspired by Kraftwerk, but equally by B52s. It had something to do with electronica, something to do with hip hop, something to do with reggae. Starting in 1981 there was something in the air going on and we beamed into it just by luck.
PC: Tom Tom Club has been very consistent. I love the song on the new album “Happiness Can’t Buy Money”. It sounds like a song title just waiting to have a song wrapped around it. Is that how it happened?
TW: I think so. It was something my father-in-law used to say. He used to tease us because we said we were going to be musicians and artists. We would say “money isn’t everything, happiness is more important” and he would tease us. He was very supportive of us doing music, but he would tease us and say “Happiness Can’t Money”.
PC: You and Chris (Frantz) must be a success story for a husband and wife team in the music industry. How long have you been married now?
TW: It’s going to be 25 years in June. It doesn’t seem like that. It seems like much shorter. You add it up and you think “this is incredible”. I hope there is going to be another 25 years because I tell you, my man never bores me. He is forever young for me.
PC: And it’s good to see you having two 25 year anniversaries this year, one with the marriage and the other for Talking Heads.
TW: Yeah ’77 was a very big year for us.
PC: That must have been around the time Donna Summer brought out “Love To Love You Baby” and you recently covered that song with Tom Tom Club. Why that song?
TW: I think we started doing it as a different prject entirely and we really liked it so we decided to include it in our own repertoire. It was a song we had originally done to celebrate 20 years of the Pro-choice movement for women who wanted to bring children lovingly and responsibly into this world. All the songs that we selected as songs were done with or by women. Afterwards, we thought we should really include this. Donna Summer was force in herself. She was managing to get through the music business in a time where women were the puppets of the music business. She was great because she entertained us but she bought herself into a man’s world but did it her own way.
PC: Back then musically, with what Donna was doing with disco and what you were doing in Talking Heads as new wave were at opposite ends of the industry.
TW: Yeah, because what Donna was doing was very accessible and it was hit. We could never do anything as good as those people, so we went for an audience that was interested in what we did and what was different from what other people were doing. We expected it would be a small audience, so we looked for a small label that would be happy with selling a small number of records. As it turned out, things took a slightly different course. We were with this record company called Warner Brothers which was big but was it had people who knew music and loved music and had room for all kinds of music. They could have someone like Rod Stewart, but also someone like Talking Heads or B52s. They were not only excited but supportive. It was like family then. This award is for those people. We are just the people on display.
Paul Cashmere: You mentioned B52s. You go back a long way with them, but you also go back a short way with them because you were partying with them this week in New York City.
Tina Weymouth: That is correct, Paul. We first saw them when we went to Georgia in 1977. We met them at a party. It was after a show. It was Elvis Costello supporting Talking Heads. There were some kids at the show who asked us to come and party and introduced us to some of their friends and that’s how we met B52s. We told them when they came to New York, they had to play CBGB’s and they did. It took two shows when Chris Blackwell saw them and signed them. Their very first record went gold. In 1984, the B52s were invited to play at Rock In Rio and they wanted Chris to play drums, so I said take me along for the ride and they did. We came out and did the second half of their set together. We had a really good time. They got together on valentines Day 1977. We were celebrating 25 years with them this week. We had a good time, the show was electric and it was as fresh as it had ever been.
PC: I recall John Lennon saying the reason he made a comeback with Double Fantasy was because he heard the B52s and they sounded like Yoko. And there was Yoko this week, partying with you and B52s.
TW: She came out and sang Rock Lobster and she sounded great. This was the backup band that she needed. John was right because with pop music, everything is about timing. Sometimes you have to lay off because the message is not clicking with people. We did that with Tom Tom Club. We stopped for years because during the whole grunge period there was a lull. We had to wait until the times had changed and people were ready for us again.
PC: One person that did listen to you in the 90s was Mariah Carey. She had some great success with Tom Tom Club.
TW: That’s right, with “Fantasy”. She sampled the song and sang a verse and then she embroided her own “fantasy” lyrics on top. It came out really well I thought. I really loved the remix with Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
PC: And it’s still happening for you with that song “Genius Of Love”. The X-ecutioners are using it now.
TW: We cut the 24 track parts over again and printed it on vinyl so they could recreate it again with the use of turntables. They would have the individual instruments and make their own mixes. They function as an orchestra but there is really only four of them. They are radical the way jazz was 100 years ago.
PC: One of the things you did that was really interesting was The Heads project in ’96. That was obviously a one off.
TW: The record company that we would have done more with got taken over and deconstructed from the bottom to the top. And as you know Paul, it is the bottom that does the work. Things fell apart and artists had to look elsewhere.
PC: And next is the live album.
TW: We are shopping a deal right now and we are hoping it will be midyear. The band is hot right now. I’m sorry we can’t jump on a magic carpet and play in Australia. I’m sure there are a bunch of little clubs that would have us. We could rock the house. We have to do our thing here for the time being until the moment arrives when a promoter can send us an airline ticket to come over.
PC: When were you here last?
TW: February ’84. We did an amazing tour that time. It was at the end of the Speaking In Tongues tour that was filmed as Stop Making Sense. We had a lot of other great bands playing on the same bill. There as Eurythmics, INXS, The Pretenders and Simple Minds. It was excellent. I’ll never forget it.
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