Heads up

Fifteen years later, the reissue of Stop Making

Sense opens old wounds ... and heals them

Even now, when talking about how glorious it is to see Stop Making Sense in its restored form -- with songs added, colors touched up, sound remixed -- Frantz can't help but mention how it's really Byrne's film, in a way. After all, the film was his concept, from the way the band members stroll out one by one during the opening songs to the oversized suit Byrne wears. He was its star -- the vocalist as Lead Character -- with the other band members as his supporting cast.

Frantz says Demme -- who would go on to direct such films as Married to the Mob and Silence of the Lambs after making Stop Making Sense -- had originally proposed to rerelease the film in 1996. But Frantz, Weymouth, and Harrison were about to release No Talking Just Head and thought the timing might be a little...awkward, at best. Three years later, Chris Blackwell -- the founder of Island Records, which funded Stop Making Sense -- approached the band about touring a restored version of the film, under the auspices of his new company, Palm Pictures. The band members agreed -- surprisingly, none quicker than Byrne.

"Why not?" Frantz says. "The movie makes him look fantastic, and he needs that. Wouldn't you agree? That was the idea, his and Jonathan Demme's, from the very beginning. I'm not knocking David's performance, but it's all directed to make him look good. Still, he's no Ricky Martin..." He trails off, laughing slightly.

The big suit, that small head: This is the publicity photo sent out for the reissue of Stop Making Sense. Who says it was David Byrne's movie?
Hugh Brown
The big suit, that small head: This is the publicity photo sent out for the reissue of Stop Making Sense. Who says it was David Byrne's movie?
Memories can't wait: The Talking Heads, circa 1977
Memories can't wait: The Talking Heads, circa 1977

See -- there he goes again, still holding that grudge. One would think that would all be water under the bridge, if not water long evaporated, by now. After all, Frantz and Weymouth may not have thrived in the post-Heads era, but they haven't suffered, either; indeed, Mariah Carey's use of Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love" in her top-of-the-pops song "Fantasy" has been worth a fistful of nice royalty checks. ("Genius of Love" and its sequel, "Pleasure of Love," rank among the most sampled of songs, appearing in tracks by LL Cool J, Ziggy Marley, and, of course, Puff Daddy.) And Harrison has carved out a rather lucrative career as a producer for such bands as Live, The Verve Pipe, Rusted Root, and even hometowners Billygoat; he also operates his own Web site, www.garageband.com, which is sort of an Internet battle-of-the-bands venue.

But maybe good memories die hard. Maybe it's just impossible sometimes to let go of a brilliant yesterday, when the world was full of possibilities and the music seemed to offer something mysterious and remarkable every time the four of them stepped into a room together. For that, who can blame Chris Frantz? For him, the day the Heads died was the day he lost a little bit of himself.

Yet -- and here is the strange part -- even now he holds out a little bit of hope that, some day, the band will get together one more time. Maybe it will happen at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, he offers; the hall recently called and asked, if so honored, whether the Talking Heads would appear and perform. Frantz and Weymouth said they would love to: "We'll play 'Psycho Killer,' whatever," Frantz says. But on the same day as this interview, Byrne appeared on salon.com quashing such talk. "Once I would probably do it," he said. "But now, I don't think so." Byrne compares a reunion to a couple getting back together only so others can relive their pain.

There is something in Frantz's voice that says he would not mind a little extra hurt. It's better than nothing at all.

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