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Ex-Heads Say They Got Byrned : Split Still Miffs Frantz, Weymouth, Even Though Tom Tom Club Keeps Them Busy

September 10, 1992|MIKE BOEHM

For evidence that Byrne still figures largely in Weymouth's thoughts, one need only pop in the new Tom Tom Club CD and listen to the first track, "Love Wave." It's a dreamy, moody number about finding a place of mental refuge from unpleasant realities. In the third verse, the unpleasantness concerns a nameless fellow who sounds a lot like a certain rocker who was once trumpeted on the cover of Time Magazine as "Rock 'n' Roll's Renaissance Man:"

I played guitar with a media star,

The entire event took place in a bar.

Where'd the kid go? Is he in a funk?

(It's not your fault they filled your head with junk).

"It's not (a portrait) of David," Weymouth said at first, not too convincingly. "It's not an accusation of David. It's more of an attitude, what we think of a lot of rock people we meet. It's not meant to be cruel or mean in any way. It's a reflection more of the world and how the media changes people sometimes if they actually believe it."

But a breath later, Weymouth said that she did have Byrne in mind--fondly--when she wrote the line, "Where'd the kid go?"

"I love the kid in David, and I'd love to see that come back," she said. "That's what I remember of him back in college, is kid Dave."

As for the verse's last line, Weymouth said she thinks the way the Talking Heads breakup was played in the press has made it harder for lines of communication to be re-established.

"We don't want to be accused of being whiners," she said, alluding to the Pop Eye item reporting Byrne's defection, and the column writer's assertion that the other Heads had "whined" about Byrne's absence in a GQ Magazine article that came out in June, 1991.

"We were very, very shocked by that, and he hasn't even spoken to us yet," Weymouth said. "A lot of what happened could be caused by the press. That's what that line was about: 'fill your head with junk.' I feel terrible about any kind of ugliness that has happened. I love everybody I've been working with, and I love what Talking Heads did and will continue to do."

Continue? A band where the players and the ex-singer apparently haven't spoken to each other in months or more?

"Putting it back together in the future (is what) we probably will do," Weymouth predicted. "It's a thought, because we're still the same people we always were, and life is full of very surprising twists and turns."

The most surprising turn in rock 'n' roll over the past year or two has been the ascendancy of alternative rock, epitomized by the sold-out Lollapalooza tours of the past two summers. The former Talking Heads can make a certain claim as old-guard antecedents of newer bands that are succeeding with music that sits outside established hit-pop formulas. What Patti Smith and the Clash achieved for brief moments--a burst into the mainstream by a left-field rock band--the Heads were the first to sustain on a continuing basis. In its 10-album career, from 1977's "Talking Heads 77" to "Naked," released in 1988, the band produced such album-rock standards as "Psycho Killer," "Life During Wartime," "Once in a Lifetime" and "Burning Down the House," as well as the landmark concert film "Stop Making Sense."

Nowadays, other alternative rockers are reaping Lollapalooza riches in big amphitheaters. Tom Tom Club, whose members helped build a foundation for that success back when alternative rock wasn't nearly as big as it is now, are again plying the clubs. (Weymouth said that touring plans call for a brief, six-show headlining stint, followed by a longer tour opening for the Soup Dragons.)

"Yeah, that drives me crazy," Frantz said, with a broad laugh. "On the one hand, we're very lucky. We got a lot of mileage out of (Talking Heads), an extremely good run. But we're disappointed. We felt, 'Jesus, we're just sort of starting to get major,' " then Byrne left. "But it was never just about finances. I try to treat it philosophically."

Weymouth applauds the current wave of alternative bands that has risen to success mainly with loud, angry guitar-rock that's a far cry from Tom Tom Club's approach--a percolating, airy style with roots in '70s funk and disco, as well as rock.

"I love everything that's punk. I understand the anger and frustration, all of it," she said. "But we have never been able to afford the luxury of being that anarchic. We have to be Dada. To us, you can't offer just anger--it will just eat you up from the inside. You've got to have a sense of humor."

* Tom Tom Club and Chanting Madly play tonight at 8 at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. $19.50. (714) 496-8930.

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