The Talking Heads never fit neatly into the grimy mid-’70s New York punk scene that bore the Voidoids, the Ramones, and Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers. Transplants from the Rhode Island School of Design, the band’s initial clean-cut aesthetic ran contrary to punk’s bombast. When each subsequent album went deeper into boundary-pushing territory, all were held down by drummer Chris Frantz and his wife, bassist Tina Weymouth’s tight foundation.
In Frantz’s new memoir, Remain in Love, we learn that many of the band’s songs were initiated by Frantz and Weymouth through focused, improvised rhythm sessions they recorded themselves. There’s a transparency to Frantz’s drumming; it’s unadorned and clear, much like the playing of his heroes Clyde Stubblefield of James Brown’s band and Benny Benjamin, Uriel Jones, and Richard “Pistol” Allen from Motown’s house band the Funk Brothers.
The story of the Talking Heads combines massive hit records, tours, and unmitigated fan adoration with an intra-band acrimony that, if Frantz’s memoir is any indication, will not be resolved within the members’ lifetimes. Remain in Love not only catalogs Frantz’s relationships to the Talking Heads, leader David Byrne, and Tina Weymouth, but also includes insights into the idiosyncratic production of the Talking Heads’ albums, including the iconic trio of releases they made with Brian Eno between 1978 and 1980. We spoke with Frantz over the phone from his home in Connecticut, where he was sheltering during the pandemic.