All four Talking Heads returned to the scene of the crime on Monday, where fifteen years ago, Stop Making Sense, their ground-breaking Jonathan Demme-directed film, was previewed at the San Francisco International Film Festival.| The quartet reassembled not to announce a reunion tour, but to herald the theatrical re-release of the newly re-mastered rock documentary and the forthcoming re-mastered soundtrack, which will include songs that never made the first cut due to technical problems (including “Cities” and “Big Business.”)
Tina Weymouth, who looked at least a decade younger than her forty-eight years in her skin-tight black leather pants, was the most loquacious of the bunch, but skillfully dodged the question about whether the band was inspired to work together again after seeing the new-and-improved film. “Yes,” she said simply. “When we saw it in the studio … we said, ‘Wow! What a great band,'” without elaborating further. Jerry Harrison, now a successful producer with a client list that includes Live, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and the Verve Pipe, avoided that most pressing of questions by throwing up his hands and proclaiming, “I haven’t even seen the movie yet.”
Idiosyncratic head-Head David Byrne, resplendent in pale peach and black, ignored the question altogether, but then you’d expect him to, since it was the quirky frontman who left in 1995 by announcing that he needed to follow his own muse.
The former bandmates seemed to get along tolerably well, and the underlying resentments that have surfaced in the past few years — most notably when Byrne sued Weymouth, Franz and Harrison for making a record without him and touring as the Heads four years ago — were shelved for the occasion. “The last time we were on a stage together was at Jerry’s wedding,” commented Franz, but later, when the group was asked what their favorite movies were, Franz said wryly, “I have a lot more time to see movies now that we’re not touring.”
Not that Franz and Weymouth, his wife of twenty-one years, are on the dole. They still maintain the Tom Tom Club, and had just come from mixing some new tracks. They also occasionally produce other bands. Bryne, who went on to explore world music, start his own label (Luaka Bop) and recently completed a score titled Ultima Vez for a Belgian dance group under the direction of Wim Vandekybus, seems comfortable in his career path, but did not let that diminish the enthusiasm he felt about the film.
“It stands up pretty well,” Byrne said. “It isn’t so Eighties. There are very few moments where you say, ‘Oh that’s so Eighties,’ or feel like you’re taking a trip down memory lane. But now that I look at it, I realize what a funk show [we were], despite that we were labeled new wave. We were really a funk band.”
“My stockings were pretty dated,” chirped in Weymouth, referring to the wildly patterned hose she wore for the film. “But luckily I only wore them once.”