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Chris Frantz on Talking Heads Reunion & More


Stop Making Sense, Jonathan Demme’s concert film chronicling the Talking Heads’ shows at L.A.’s Pantages Theater, was hailed as groundbreaking when it was released in 1984. Rarely had a band been depicted so vividly at the peak of its powers, managing to capture the intimacy of being in the room with the performers and adding a visual flair that could only be evoked by a proper filmmaker.

On the 25th anniversary of the movie – marked this week by its Blu-Ray debut – it still has few equals, as concert spectacles are most often relived via immediate, if lo-fi YouTube clips. Former Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz, 58, talked to about the film’s legacy and his continued frustrations over not being able to get the band back together.

How do you think Stop Making Sense has held up over it’s release 25 years ago?
I think it holds up very well. Wasn’t everybody on stage great? Not only that, weren’t the cameramen great? Wasn’t the direction great? Didn’t the lighting people do a great job? And wasn’t the sound wonderful? Everybody did a great job. From the audio recording to the individuals performing…it’s great. (laughs)

With the release of YouTube videos, the way you can see decent footage that sometimes go up the same night of a show, do you think that diminishes the demand for a big-production concert film like this?
I have no idea what the demand is. All I know is it did well the first time, it did well the second time. This is the third release on DVD, and I confess, I do not have a Blu-ray player, and I should probably get one now that I have my wonderful band on a Blu-ray DVD. (laughs)

But in a more general sense, the experience of watching a concert on a screen has changed.
Yeah, but I don’t care how good your computer monitor is, it’s still not the same as a good home theater, and Stop Making Sense was really meant to be seen in a big theater. When you go through a lot of trouble and expense to make something look great and sound great you hope people are watching it on something other than a laptop.

What are some of your favorite contemporaries in terms of those kinds of rock films?
I can’t think of any. (laughs) I haven’t seen a concert film in a really long time. God bless Sting and the boys in U2, but somehow their movies didn’t rock the ways ours did. In fact, it’s too bad we can’t give the Talking Heads band one more shot. Our singer doesn’t agree with me on that. I think it might be fun to take one more lap around the track.

So, that situation is as hopeless as ever?
It is. The rest of the band would love to do something but our singer doesn’t see it that way. He prefers to play “Burning Down the House” with a Talking Heads cover band while wearing a tutu and then tell us that to go out would make us a parody of ourselves.

Often, bands forget their differences as they get olderget older that goes away. It’s like ‘We used to have our differences but we’re of a certain age now, and if people want to see us we should be honored, not annoyed.’
See, but with Talking Heads there are no differences. We never had any big fights, all that is somebody’s imagination. There are no differences, there’s just one guy who doesn’t want to do it. So, life goes on and we have a nice Blu-ray DVD to watch.

You guys played on the first Gorillaz record, and supposedly there’s another collaboration in the works, is there any update on that?
I’ve heard from Damon Albarn but I haven’t heard anything about that. We did have a nice little rendezvous when the Tom Tom Club [his band with wife/Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth] played in Tokyo and Osaka. We also a nice little sitdown with a band called the Ting Tings. We might do something together with them, but I don’t know if it’d be on one of our records or one of their records. time will tell.

I forgot about how “Genius of Love,” has a star turn in Stop Making Sense, when David’s off getting into his big suit. That song became so influential in terms of sampling-do you feel like you have this continuing relationship with hip-hop?
I used to feel that way. I’m less excited about hip-hop in this point in time, with guys like Kanye West and Jay-Z. They might be selling some records but when I see them on stage with Rihanna, I can’t take my eyes off Rihanna, and I can’t wait until they get out of the picture again. I guess I’m old-school hip-hop. I’m not talking about the music as so much the vocals-when a rapper sounds like somebody giving you directions from a toll booth, they sort of lose me.

You mentioned the Ting Tings. I don’t know how much you get out and check out bands, but I’m curious what other bands have caught your ear.
There’s this band from Denmark called the Asteroid Galaxy Tour. They’re funky and the girl is great-looking.

Actually, you might have a type because they kind of sound like the Ting Tings. And both have women who kinda look like…Tina Weymouth.
(Laughs) Lykke Li, too. I definitely do have a type.

WATCH: The Talking Heads Stop Making Sense Trailer