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Talking Heads, Happy Mondays and the Tom Tom Club

Author: Skruff
Sunday, May 13, 2001
Ex Talking Heads and veteran new wave producers Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth spoke to Mezz last week about the return of their seminal pop electro side project Tom Tom Club, 9 years after they last released a record. The pair were in London recently for a celebrity packed live gig at Camden's soon-to-be-shut-down Electric Ballroom where they mixed up their greatest hits from the past (Wordy Rappinghood and Genius of Love) with new material. "Tom Tom Club is our main priority right now," drummer Chris Frantz told Mezz's Benedetta Ferraro after the show. "In some respects, we should have made it our priority sooner, but we were in a sense hoping that Talking Heads would eventually get back together. It didn't happen, so we're concentrating on this band and we're really having a ball." Also contributing to the interview was Chris's wife and fellow ex Talking Head/Tom Tom Clubber Tina Weymouth, looking a good 20 years younger than her 52.

Mezz: 9 Years have passed since Tom Tom Club's last release, was there a stage when you thought the band was over-
Tom Tom Club (Chris Frantz): "There was definitely a period when we were giving priority to other projects, but I don't think there was ever a time when we thought Tom Tom Club would never happen again. During the '90's grunge was very big, and with popular music one of the key factors is timing, and it didn't seem like the right time for Tom Tom Club to re-surface. As the 90s ended, people seemed to shift more towards dance music. We realised that many artists were using samples from our old tracks and that's when we thought it would have been a good idea to put out a new album. Bear in mind, though, that the world wasn't beating at our door for a 'comeback', it was just something that we as artists wanted to do."

Mezz: It's 20 years since the Tom Tom Club formed, were you surprised by the rise of electronic music-
Tom Tom Club (Chris): "For a long time we've been convinced that some of the most interesting work goes on in the areas of dance music and also hip hop. I guess I should separate the two genres, but they seem to have so many areas in common. To be honest we don't really listen to much rock music anymore. I mean we still do a little but not as much as we used to…"

Mezz: Is there a core Tom Tom Club vibe; a criterion by which you've chosen the rest of the musicians-
Tom Tom Club (Tina Weymouth): "Put it this way, they're all people we have known for more than five years, who we know from other bands. We started by putting together all the different elements one by one, first the rhythmic section, the keyboards, and so on. One of the interesting things when putting different elements together is to see how the chemistry between the musicians forms. We haven't put any control over the rest of the band. However we didn't want to work with difficult people, because we feel that their art is not worth that much to us. Quality of life is everything, and we're only interested to work with people who are gifted and have a gift for life."

Mezz: Has performing on stage kept its appeal to you-
Tom Tom Club (Tina): "Definitely. It is an intense experience for sure, you know it's like those famous rock stars that talk about the intensity of sexual feeling when they're performing, well it's like that on all levels. It's like being a sensitive instrument. You're picking up a flow of current of energy from the band, from the audience, from the music that you're playing. I think it is an unexplored phenomenon. It's emotional and not something you can learn from books."

Mezz: Does fear ever come into play-
Tom Tom Club (Tina): "We've had to deal with fear, it goes without saying. Most artists have to subsist. Just in the US, there are 50,000 CDs released each year, and only one per cent of those are reviewed, with maybe only one hundredth of that percentage being bought. The majority of artists live th