Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1-31-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #29 (Tina Weymouth yaks years later with Lauren/La Trix)

Lauren & Tina; Jim Wolcott, L & T (other pic)

A real class act like her sweetheart, husband Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth still has it and is still a great role model. So, thanks again, Tina, for influencing me to fearlessly pick up a Fender Precision electric bass in 1991. . . and for being interviewed by me in 2011 as part of the FINDING BLISS tv show! (for Vimeo TW interview -- click here)

Here are some cool quotes from Ms. Tina:

“I didn’t grow up necessarily thinking I’d be a musician -- although I always loved music and I did music as well as art. I decided I was going to be an artist at the age of two. I remember it distinctly: I remember where I was, and it was very funny because I was so young, but I already had this idea in mind. And my parents knew I was probably going to go in some sort of artistic direction, and they were great, they were very supportive of it.”

“And I had a big family, so I could get all my sisters to work with me on puppet shows and circuses and various little music shows and plays that I would write and then we would put on. And we even had a talking head, which later popped up (smiles) in my future, after I met my husband, Chris Frantz, in college, when I was going to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISDEE).”

“I do blame my brother for introducing me to guitar and Bob Dylan; the rest was just finding great friends in school, especially when I went to art school. There I hit my stride.”

So, how DID the music start for you, Tina? “Well, I learned how to play folk guitar when I was 14, out of books. I was living in Iceland at the time. My life is kinda complicated. Yes, it was very cool, but it was far away from everything, so I had to learn from books. And it was very exciting to find out afterwards, ‘Oh yeah, I did do that song right.’ But I loved sitting in my room playing my guitar, and my sister, Danielle, would always be so studious and do her homework. And I was so bad (shakes head). I did my homework, but not to the sacrifice of my guitar (smiles impishly). I had to do that.”

“But the curious thing that was, while my husband, Chris Frantz, who is also a painter, and I, while we were sharing a studio, we would be listening to the radio while we were painting, and what kept coming back to us all the time was, ‘This music could be a lot better.’ OK, there were some good things on, but mainstream music at the time was kind of driving us crazy (in the early ‘70’s). It seemed to have gotten into a bad state. I mean, David Bowie and Mark Bolan of T-Rex were doing interesting things, and there were interesting things that were starting to brew in Germany. . . “

“But this was all overseas, while in America, the love of country -- nothing wrong with that, because we are big fans of Dolly Parton -- there seemed to be this plethora of blues-based American music. But it was always being pushed into something phoney. There was a phoniness going on which had to do with people wanting to be like and authentic bluesman, like Bob Dylan trying to do something of the authentic genre. I guess we thought--“

“It was really Chris’s idea. He kept saying, ‘I want to have a band. Why don’t you join my band?’ I said, ‘Look, I’ll drive you, I’ll support you -- but I don’t think I really belong in your band.’ First of all, he didn’t really like flutes, and I was playing flute at the time. And I said, ‘You’ve got two guitarists already; I really don’t think a third guitarist would work -- and I’m not a singer. Let me just be supportive of you.’ “

“And it took two years before I joined his band, and it was only by default. By that time, we’d moved to New York. I knew all the great painters at that point were living in NY. I thought, ‘I’ll live with them and I’ll still be a painter--‘” Tina smiles. “I’m still not painting.”

“Our first band was the Artistics -- also known as the Autistics, for good reason. You know, it was a great little band, it only played two or three times. It didn’t have enough momentum but it certainly impressed me that David Byrne is a wonderful guitarist. And, you know, he’ll do anything on a dare.”

“So, when Chris and I dared him (Byrne) to move to NY with us, he said OK. That’s how we started as a trio. I wasn’t in the band at that point, but we lived two blocks from CBGB’s -- that was Chris’s call -- he found the loft we lived in and he pretty much put everything together. David and I were not very practical, but we did have a lot of good ideas, I think.”

So, when did you pick up the bass? “I bought my first bass on my birthday. I’d been putting five dollars down on a Fender Precision on 48th Street (in Manhattan), every week. I had a job at Henry Bendel’s and I was lucky to have the job as long as I did, and it was a great experience, because I got to see what I didn’t want to do. . . “

Who were the bass players that Tina admired and emulated? “Well, the Beach Boys and the Beatles were the only ones I really knew. The bass in both of those bands was fantastic. And I hadn’t realized that I was listening to the bass. I just picked up the bass because they needed a bass.”

“At first I thought, ‘Gee, because it only has four strings, how hard can it be?’ And then I found out how it’s really a whole other challenge than guitar. It took me a while, but Chris was a great teacher just in terms of being committed and sticking with it. You know, it wasn’t easy.”

“I’d been playing bass nearly five months when we did our first show.”

How’d you come up with the name, Talking Heads? “Talking Heads was a name that a friend of ours, an artist who was also from RISDEE, added to a list that we’d been keeping. We had a list of possibilities. I remember one was called, ‘The Vogue Dots.’ Another was ‘The Subway Tones.’ And you know, we kept saying we really need something that doesn’t convey anything like anybody else’s music because we’re trying to move away from 12-bar, blues-based rock, and we’re trying to do something that’s a little different. . .”

For the rest of the fabulous Tina interview, please visit Vimeo & Finding Bliss.

Until next time, your faithful blogger.

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