DFW Music News

No Fear of the Eight-Track: Chris Frantz on Big Bucks and Tom Tom Club's "New" Live Release.

Over the weekend, on his Facebook page, Big Bucks Burnett debuted the new logo for his Eight Track Museum in Deep Ellum -- that's it at right.

And on Wednesday come even more details -- as in, where, exactly, that sucker's being planted.  But until then, let's revisit Burnett's record label -- or, rather, his eight-track-only label, Cloud 8, to which he's "signed" Tom Tom Club. Which is so Big Bucks.

"The eight-track is back in style with great panache," says Chris Frantz, the former Talking Head and, with wife Tina Weymouth, one half of Tom Tom Club. He laughs. But he's not kidding. Excited? Maybe.

As we pointed out a few weeks ago, Frantz and Weymouth are old friends of Bucks's dating back to that fateful afternoon at the Bronco Bowl when he crashed a Talking Heads soundcheck just because, look, he's a fan, all right? And, well, when he asked the couple if he could release their in-concert album, Genius of Live on a cartridge, they said: Sure, sounds good.

"He comes up with a lot of ideas -- most of them good, I would hasten to add," Frantz says. "But this idea? I just loved the whole idea. I love this type of thing where there's nothing other than some kind of weird love for recorded music. I know his intentions are absolutely the best, the finest, so Tina and I are happy to be part of his vision."

Frantz said he discovered Burnett's obsession with the eight-track early on, when Bucks was in the early stages of a documentary on the format -- a film he's still working on all these years later. But he dismisses the notion that Burnett, ex patron saint of 14 Records of Lower Greenville, is a nostalgist.

"I think Big Bucks refers to this as nowstalgia," Frantz says, laughing. "I realize it's a nutty thing, but when he offered us the idea I said, 'Why not?' It's not like everybody's beating down our door for a new eight track. And we're celebrating in the coming year the 30th anniversary of Tom Tom Club, so why not release 30 eight-track cartridges?"

As we noted before Thanksgiving, the couple will indeed come to town early next year for the debut of the eight track -- 30 copies of which will be made, signed by Frantz and Weymouth and auctioned off at the museum. The couple will appear at the release, but not perform -- too hard to bring the whole band, says Frantz.

"It's part of the deal -- we had to agree to make an in-person at the museum," he says. No date has yet been set.

I asked Frantz: Can he recall the last album he played on that was released on eight-track? Probably a Talking Heads album, he says.

"Bucks is looking for The Name of This Band ... on eight-track," Frantz says. "He does have Remain in Light, I know that, and Fear of Music and the first album. I gotta say, I never had any of those on eight-track. We lived in New York, and they were a thing of the past. We didn't think of asking the label for them, and now I regret that because they're going for over $100 a piece."

We spoke for a long time -- about how the how the live album won't fit on the whole cartridge, so it'll need to be truncated; about how Bucks came out to the house years ago to catalog the couple's archives; about how only Bucks could pull off an eight-track museum and label in the year 2010 and beyond. Frantz then said he believed, if nothing else, that the Tom Tom Club eight-track could be "good exposure for us."

I asked: How?

"It's one of those je ne sais quoi," he said, laughing again. "You don't know exactly how it'll work out, but it can't be bad. I am confident the good vibes will work in his favor. To be friends with Big Bucks Burnett has always been a great pleasure for Tina and me. What I love most of all is he gets excited about things, and that enthusiasm is contagious."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky