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Email A Rock Star!

Chris Frantz

Special Guest for July 2007

Interview by Bucks Burnett

"(Saving rock and roll) is in the hands of the kids. They're going to have
to step away from the TV and the video games if they really want to rock."

BB: In September 1982, I snuck backstage at a Talking Heads concert in Dallas, and asked you for an interview. You said yes, and we spoke for half an hour the next night in Oklahoma City. It was my first experience interviewing a rock star, so it's nice, 25 years later, to come full circle and have you be the first interview for E mail A Rock Star! When I met you in 1982, I had no idea that we were beginning a remarkable friendship of 25 years. So my first question, Chris Frantz, is, what are you wearing?

CF: Well, I'm getting ready to go to the gym so I'm wearing this really chic little Adidas work out number in Navy Blue with white stripes down the pants legs. My shoes are New Balance in bright green suede. My socks are offwhite Smart Wool. Topping it off is my classic black CBGB t-shirt. I'm ready for action.

BB: Tell me about your computer, and what sites you like to visit.

CF: I have a 17" Mac Book Pro laptop model. My most visited sites are:

BB: Your home recording studio is fabulous. Does it have a name or zodiac sign?

CF: The name of our studio is The Clubhouse. We built it in 1990 so she is just seventeen.

BB: 99% of musicians who attempt to become rock stars fail, a similar concept to that of our friend, The Sperm. What's it like to be in the One Percent Club?

CF: I don't really think of myself as a rockstar, although I definitely have rocked. I do realize how fortunate I have been and I'm always thankful for that.

BB: Things happened very well fairly quickly for the Talking Heads. Was there a pivotal moment you can recall where you realized that your rock dream was coming true?

CF: James Wolcott wrote an article called "The Conservative Impulse of the New Rock Underground" for the Village Voice in, I think, 1975 after CGBG's two week Festival Of Unsigned Bands. I don't know how conservative we really were, but the Voice put our picture on the cover and when you live in New York, that's a big deal.

Also in the spring of 1977, exactly thirty years ago, we did a tour of Europe opening for the Ramones. That was and still is my idea of living the rock and roll life.

BB: In addition to becoming a rock star, you also married Tina Weymouth. Is there a reason god loves you more than anybody else?

CF: I don't know why...I've been a very naughty boy! But then, Tina likes it like that.

BB: You helped design the Remain In Light cover. What is your favorite Talking Heads album cover?

CF: Ahh, there are so many favorites to chose from. I do love the Long Box Set ( Once In A Lifetime) and The Brick ( - the 8 CD Talking Heads studio albums collection - BB) . Still, I have to say my fave is RIL.

BB: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of your first album, Talking Heads:77, an occasion worth noting. Any special plans to observe the occasion?

CF: Oh, if only.........

It's also my 30th anniversary of marriage to Tina on June 18th. Now, that will be a night to remember!

BB: Rhino Records have done a fabulous job of preserving and even recreating your legacy with all the box sets and reissues. The new Dual Discs have added new life to the studio albums. With everything so perfectly preserved, what's left for the Talking Heads? Maybe a DVD collection of concert footage and interviews? Bubblegum cards? I would favor Chris, Tina, David and Jerry Halloween masks. Very Beatles.

CF: The DVD collection is a very cool idea. I also like the Halloween mask idea, but that might be too scary for the kids of today.

BB: Most people don't realize (or believe) that when the Tom Tom Club first started, that album was outselling the Talking Heads. That's rather astonishing in retrospect, a forgotten fact. It was great seeing the Toms open for the Heads. Any chance of a Rhino Tom Tom anthology?

CF: We have been talking about it, but then recently all those people at Rhino got fired! Sheesh. Thank you Edgar Bronfman Jr.

BB: Yeah! Even their genius designer, Hugh Brown, was laid off. Somebody has Playdough for brains! As I understand it, the Tom Tom Club is on hold for now. Are there any current or future projects you can tell us about?

CF: At the moment, we are just living our lives and life is good!

BB: I took you and Tina to see a Jimmy Page and Robert Plant show in Boston in 1995. Tell me your Zeppelin story! Favorite album? Song? Did you ever see them in the 70's? What's your take on Bonham?

CF: Hah! I just knew you would find a way to get to the ZEP! I saw them perform at Ohio Universty in, I think, 1970. They were the loudest thing I had ever heard. I seem to remember they were in black leather, too. Fave album is Led Zeppelin II and favorite song is "Whole Lotta Love." Regarding John Bohnham, he was the essence of awesome. I only wish he had taken better care of himself.

BB: If I am correct, you had a brief encounter with Ringo Starr on an elevator?

CF: Yes, Talking Heads were doing a big stadium show with The Police, Peter Tosh, and Stevie Ray Vaughn in Montreal. We were staying in a suitably posh hotel. I was waiting in the lobby for for the elevator and when the doors opened there was Ringo Starr! I said "Good morning, Ringo." He looked at his watch and said "Morning? It's not morning, it's afternoon." Then he walked on by.

BB: With regard to Ringo, you have to give him credit; the man knows his time zones. Moving on to other celebrities, I want to ask you about Bob Dylan. We're both huge fans of his, and I believe you attended that legendary 5 hour concert at a club called Toad's in Connecticut in the 90's. What was your experience of the show, and have you ever met him?

CF: I did see the concert at Toad's. It was cool but way too long. You know, I feel the same way about other artists who play for more than an hour or so. Enough, already!

Yes, I have met Bob Dylan....but I'm saving that tale for my own book.

BB: We've never talked about Andy Warhol. I have to assume you met him at some point, would love any details you could share. I met him a few months before he died and consider it a highlight of my life, unbelievable in retrospect.

CF: Yes, Andy came to see us play at CBGB a couple of times. Very early on he invited us to lunch at The Factory. This was great, a dream come true, and we had our picture taken together by the painter Duncan Hannah. Lance Loud (of "An American Family" and his band The Mumps) was instrumental is setting this up and wrote a profile of us in Andy Warhol's Interview. Andy advised me to cut down on my drinking or it would make me fat. Boy...he was right.

BB: Last on the celebrity list; ever met David Bowie?

CF: Yes, the first time I was onstage at Radio City Music Hall playing my ass off, when I looked over stage right and standing in the wings was David Bowie all by himself. I grinned and he laughed and waved. He was clearly digging the band.

The second time was in Montreux, Switzerland at the jazz festval when we played there with Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club in 1982. He came backstage to hang with us. He had a home nearby.

BB: When we saw Page and Plant in Boston in '95, Jimmy called and spoke with you and Tina on the phone the day after the show. I have to say it was a surreal experience for me to watch that go down. I kept hoping you and Tina might join Jimmy and Robert as Head Zeppelin. Might you remember a highlight of the conversation?

CF: There really was no highlight. He simply apologized for not being more sociable and said he had gotten his arm stuck in an elevator door the night before and had to rest. (!) I do remember that two of his crew were former Talkng Heads crew members. One of them, Clive Brinkworth aka Binky is working with The Who lately. What a trooper!

BB: The music business seems a bit more Titanic than Love Boat these days. What can be done to save our ship?

CF: Dang. If I knew the answer to that question I could make a lot of people I know very happy.

Honestly, I have to leave this problem in the hands of the kids. They have to step away from the TV and the video games if they really want to rock. Did you see that movie IDIOCRACY? It's my worst nightmare and it's happening right here in the USA.

BB: I love that movie! What a chilling documentary. I think you raise a very important point; it really IS up to the kids; Id never thought of it like that. By the way, I've been meaning to ask you for 25 years; what the hell is a polyrhythm and is there an over the counter treatment for it? Id never heard of that word until I read Talking heads reviews. Now critics use it all the time and I bet they dont even understand it.

CF: Well, there's and easy way to explain polyrhythm. Have one of your friends clap his hands four times and another friend simutaneously clap her hands six times. The resulting sound is a polyrythm, dude.

BB: No ones here with me, so Im just gonna clap ten times by myself and see what happens. Thank you for being our special guest for July, Christopher Frantz.

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