Tag Archive | "Tom Tom Club"

Same as it Ever Was: 30 Years of the Genius of Love

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By Annette Hinkle

When you think about it, there aren’t a lot of bands that manage to stick around for 30 years. Changes in artistic direction, ego clashes and the public’s fickle tastes are just a few factors that can, and often do, lead to the demise of truly great bands.

But those that survive tend to have a sound that transcends pop-culture and politics. Often the longevity of a successful group can be traced to the fact it strikes a chord with successive generations through music that settles into the psyche and stays there.

That’s certainly something Chris Frantz understands.

In March 1981, Frantz, a drummer, and his wife, bass player Tina Weymouth, flew down to the Bahamas to record under the name of a new group, Tom Tom Club. Their first, self titled disc included the songs “Genius of Love” and “Wordy Rappinghood,” both of which took on a life of their own that continues to this day.

“It’s kind of a miracle,” says Frantz. “Who knew that 30 years later we’d still be grooving to ‘Genius of love?’”

Frantz and Weymouth and the rest of the Tom Tom Club (Victoria Clamp Bruce Martin, Pablo Martin and Kid Ginseng) will be among the performers taking the stage at the MTK: Music to Know Festival at East Hampton Airport on August 13 and 14. While many of the bands on the bill are likely to be unfamilar to the “over 40” crowd, Tom Tom Club is one of those groups whose fans truly span the generations.

“A lot of young fans have heard our stuff in their parents record collections — and we have parents bringing their kids to concerts,” says Frantz. “It’s clear when we play ‘Genius of Love’ and ‘Wordy Rappinghood,’ the kids know these songs. They’ve heard them — whether it’s on MTV, VH1 or local radio.”

Part of what’s kept Tom Tom Club in the forefront of popular music all these years is the fact their songs have been sampled widely by other artists. “Genius of Love” has been used in no fewer than 47 songs — starting with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “It’s Nasty (Genius of Love),” a replay which came out soon after the original. Though Tom Tom Club continues to write and record new music to this day, it’s their earliest songs that have defined their career.

“I thought it was really cool – they’re stealing our stuff,” says Frantz. “They did it through the proper channels and as long as they do it the proper way we have no problem. In 30 years, there’s only one song we turned down a sample request for — it was during the gansta era and was too vulgar.”

Ironcially, for Frantz and Weymouth Tom Tom Club was meant to be a break from their “other” gig — as members of the Talking Heads, the mega-band of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Frantz, Weymouth and Talking Heads front man, David Byrne, met in the early 1970s when all three were students at Rhode Island School of Design. The trio moved to New York, founded Talking Heads in 1975 and cut their teeth at small venues like CBGB, the legendary club in the Bowery.

But by the early ‘80s, after five years, four albums and countless tours, the band was huge. Encouraged by Byrne and the band’s fourth member, guitarist Jerry Harrison, Weymouth and Frantz set off during a break in the schedule to record in the same Bahamian studio where the Talking Heads’ fourth album, “Remain in Light” had been recorded.

Franz recalls the goals for that first recording session were specific, if modest.

“When we did the first Tom Tom Club record, we wanted to do something that would be good for dance clubs,” explains Frantz. “We wanted the singles to be the kind that would be played in clubs and people would actually dance to them. We deliberately set out to do something different from Talking Heads – with Tina being the singer — that would be a whole different sound.”

Frantz credits then 22-year-old engineer Steven Stanley, who also recorded Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” with helping to develop the flavor the Tom Tom Club was looking for.

“Basically it’s a reggae mix, but not reggae music,” says Frantz. “It has a heavy bottom end and bright highs and not so much in the mid-range.”

“We were sort of flying by the seat of our pants,” he adds. “We recorded much the way we did ‘Remain in Light,’ which was to go in, create grooves and gradually add layers of melody and vocals.”

Though Talking Heads officially split up in 1991 when Byrne went solo, with their reggae beat and catchy repeating riffs, Tom Tom Club caught a wave it has continued to ride to this day. It may have started as a side project, but Frantz and Weymouth’s music managed to cross a racial and cultural divide by giving a nod to the emeriging rap genre while embracing the fun of the early ‘80s club scene.

“We thought Tom Tom Club would be a one shot thing,” admits Frantz. “We had no idea it would be so successful. Talking Heads is like our first child — your first is always special. It was a fantastic band with an amazing sound and such great chemistry. Who knew Tom Tom Club would last longer than Talking Heads?”

To this day, the group continues to connect with audiences of all ages. Frantz says he partiuclarly enjoys seeing young faces in the crowd when they perform.

“That’s why we like the MTK lineup — we’re delighted to get in front of more young people,” he says. “We’re mature now and our audiences tend to be mature people. So we love an all ages crowd.”

And as husband and wife, Frantz and Weymouth have staying power not unlike their music. The couple has two grown sons, Robin and Egan, and on June 18, they celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary. So for Frantz, how difficult has it been to survive all these years not only as life partners and parents, but bandmates as well?

“It’s a challenge,’ he concedes. “We’ve been through a few changes in our lives, our up and downs.”

“But I still think of Tina as my girlfriend – I think she still thinks of me as her boyfriend. It’s a romantic thing you just can’t beat.”

And that truly is the genius of love.

Top: Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth (Egan Frantz photo)

Remember the Video? See it here:

Tom Tom Club – \”Genius of Love\” 1981


FAA Approves Music to Know Music Festival at the East Hampton Airport as Producers Announce Talent

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web MTK site

Just a day after Sag Harbor residents Chris Jones and Bill Collage announced the musical lineup for this summer’s MTK: Music to Know Music Festival, they received word from the Federal Aviation Administration that the festival was approved to take place at the East Hampton Airport. That was the final hurdle producers had to jump to ensure the music festival they have been planning for over a year will go on.

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“We are all systems go,” said Jones on Tuesday afternoon, just minutes after receiving confirmation from the FAA.

Having already received a commercial mass gathering permit from East Hampton Town to move the festival from an Amagansett farm to the East Hampton Airport, FAA approval was the last step before Jones could be assured the concert would go on.

“Now the fun part begins,” he said.

The fun part actually began on Monday night at Townline BBQ in Sagaponack, where Jones and Collage, surrounded by over two dozen supporters, announced the musical lineup for the two-day music festival, slated for August 13 and 14.

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Vampire Weekend, an American indie rock band out of New York City, will headline the festival on Saturday night. According to Collage, the band has turned down a number of major festivals and choosing to come to the MTK Music Festival is a testament both to what the festival hopes to accomplish, and also the market on the East End of Long Island.

“We are pleased to say on Saturday night to headline we have one of the brightest and the best new bands emerging for one of their only U.S. gigs,” said Jones.

“It’s a testament, not just to us, but really to this market,” added Collage. “They specifically wanted to work here, with us. They wanted to be a part of the Hamptons in the summer because of the people that are here. We couldn’t be more thrilled and we see them as a perfect fit for what we think is Music To Know right now.”

The second headlining act, which will close the festival, is the Nebraska-based indie rock band Bright Eyes led by Conor Oberst.

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Oberst, touted as “the new Dylan” in 2005 after the release of “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning,” and the rest of Bright Eyes recently performed as headliners at the popular Coachella Music and Art Festival. They also sold out two shows to acclaim in March at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and are opening for Coldplay at Lollapalooza in Chicago the weekend before MTK Music Festival opens.

“Frankly, they are just incredible,” said Jones on Monday night.

Vampire Weekend and Bright Eyes will be joined by 16 other acts over the course of the weekend, including The Limousines, a San Jose, California-based electro-pop band, who Jones said sound like “a combination of Peter Gabriel meets Depeche Mode.” They are known primarily for their song “Internet Killed the Video Star.”

Francis and The Lights, a New York City-based soul and electronic band led by Francis Farewell Starlite is also slated to perform, as is Portland folk musician M. Ward, whose 2009 album “Hold Time” featured guest performances by Lucinda Williams and Zooey Deschanel. The New Zealand electronic ensemble The Naked and Famous are also on the roster, as is indie rock band We Are Scientists.

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Tom Tom Club, led by Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads, will also perform in the festival, as will the California based folk-rock group Dawes, and the indie-rock, chamber-pop group Ra Ra Riot, a New York based band that incorporates a small string section into their music. Chromeo, a two-member electro-funk group, Canadian pop group Young Empires, Nicos Gun, Brooklyn-duo Matt & Kim, the folk-inspired Tame Impala and the Motown-inspired Fitz & The Tantrums are also slated to perform.

“The Cold War Kids are a real exclamation point in our lineup,” said Jones on Monday night of the indie rock band out of Long Beach, California.

Lastly, MTK Music Festival will feature SUDDYN, a rock band boasting a piano-ballad based sound with influences felt from groups like Radiohead, U2, the Beatles and Muse. The group found acclaim across the pond in Ireland a few years back, scoring three hit singles and quickly becoming one of the most popular unsigned acts in the country.

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What makes that band’s appearance at MTK Music Festival poignant, noted Jones, is that it originally formed in Montauk, where two of its members — vocalist and piano player Alan Steil and his brother Jarrett, also a vocalist and guitar player — grew up, attending high school mere miles from the concert site.

“We are trying to expose them through the festival,” said Jones on Monday night.

On Tuesday, Jarrett said not only was the band, which is rounded out by drummer Brendan Connolly, honored to be playing the festival, but also appreciated what it brings to the table in terms of talent.

“Usually we have a great classic like Billy Joel or Paul Simon out there,” he said in a phone interview from Los Angeles where the band has recently relocated. “But this is a festival of up-and-coming artists and we are really proud to be a part of that.”

The MTK Music Festival will sell 9,500 tickets in total for the two-day music festival, which in addition to music will feature local cuisine, wine and beer, retail booths and an area designed for children.

The cost for the festival is $195 for general admission to the two-days. However, locals will have a chance for a reduced price $175 ticket through May 23. Those tickets are available at Sylvester & Co. in Sag Harbor, Indian Wells Tavern in Amagansett, Khanh Sports in East Hampton Village, and 668 Gig Shack in Montauk.

According to Jones, VIP tickets, which are on sale for $645, already had begun to sell quickly on the first day of sales.

In addition to access to a VIP tent, with a special viewing deck of the stage, preferred parking at the site, and a unique menu of food and spirits, VIP access will also include small performances by guest artists that have yet to be announced as well as fashion shows.

“And we will reveal more of what we have up our sleeve as we get closer to August,” said Jones.

For information, videos and music visit http://www.musictoknow.com.