Drum and bass

The party rages on for Talk­ing Heads off­shoot Tom Tom Club (so long as Happy Mon­days aren’t in­vited), who are bring­ing their deliri­ous sun­shine funk this way. They have a mes­sage for David Byrne too, as Jim Car­roll finds out

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

ONE CLAS­SIC BAND with oo­dles of hits is usu­ally suf­fi­cient for most mu­si­cians. Get­ting to the top of the pop tree once, af­ter all, is hard enough to do. In the case of Chris Frantz and Tina Wey­mouth, they first hit the jack­pot with Talk­ing Heads and then again with Tom Tom Club.

The first act may have been more cel­e­brated, but the Club have al­ways brought good times, great tunes and funky shows with them. From the re­lease of de­but sin­gle Wordy Rap­ping­hood in 1981, it was full-steam ahead for the cou­ple and their band­mates.

Thirty years on, the party is still in full swing and the band visit Dublin’s Vicar Street next week, their first visit to the city since a eu­phoric show at the old McGona­gles’ venue on South Anne Street in 1988.

“The band sound great in re­hearsals,” says Frantz. “We’ve a new gui­tarist from Ar­gentina called Pablo Martin. We’ve also got the peo­ple we’ve been work­ing with for 20 years like Bruce Martin and Vic­to­ria Clamp, and they’re won­der­ful play­ers and singers. It’s a smok­ing hot show, with a lot of en­ergy and great tunes.”

Tom Tom Club’s deliri­ous sun­shine funk came about be­cause of a de­sire to do some­thing dif­fer­ent to the main gig. The duo had just come off Talk­ing Heads Re­main In Light tour in 1981 and, with the other Heads off do­ing other pur­suits, Frantz and Wey­mouth de­cided to fol­low suit. They got in touch with Is­land Records boss Chris Black­well, headed to the Com­pass Point stu­dios in the Ba­hamas, where they’d pre­vi­ously recorded two Talk­ing Heads’ al­bums, and started to work.

“Orig­i­nally, we were sup­posed to just do the Wordy Rap­ping­hood sin­gle, but it quickly be­came an al­bum. Chris Black­well re­alised that a drum­mer and bass player could drive a band and a hit song.

“A lot of peo­ple think it’s the gui­tarist or lead singer, but Chris un­der­stood the value of a good rhythm sec­tion from his work with jazz and reg­gae mu­si­cians.” The self-ti­tled de­but al­bum was a chance for the pair to show a dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal side, as they im­mersed them­selves in sounds that had noth­ing to do with the art-rock in­flu­ences of the CBGB set.

“We were en­joy­ing great suc­cess with Talk­ing Heads but that was its own thing and we didn’t want to try to ride on those coat-tails”, says Frantz. “We loved reg­gae and Amer­i­can r’n’b and dance mu­sic with a good beat and the early hip-hop which was com­ing out of the South Bronx, so we used that as our source of inspiration.” Their self-ti­tled de­but al­bum still sounds thrilling.

“There is a joy­ous sound to that record,” Frantz agrees. “It’s fair to say that we were in a fairly elated state when we made that record. It was a mag­i­cal time for us, when it seemed that we could do just about any­thing. We weren’t overly am­bi­tious to have suc­cess, but we wanted to do some­thing that would be re­mem­bered in the fu­ture and have a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence. Who knew that 30 years later we’d still be per­form­ing those songs?”

Just as Talk­ing Heads had a great record la­bel man in Sey­mour Stein to steer them, Tom Tom Club were for­tu­nate to have Chris Black­well in their cor­ner. “Sey­mour gave Talk­ing Heads its first shot and we owe a lot to Sey­mour and we still see him and will al­ways be grate­ful for his en­thu­si­asm. But Chris was the one who did that for Tom Tom Club. He had the fore­sight to see that a rhythm sec­tion like us was ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a re­ally cool al­bum and just let us get on with it. Like Sey­mour, he was a great record man.”

The tours that fol­lowed were mem­o­rable. “We were for­tu­nate with our tim­ing be­cause Talk­ing Heads were all over MTV and the ra­dio so the clubs we played in were packed with happy peo­ple. I re­mem­ber The Edge com­ing to that McGona­gles show in Dublin,

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