Talking Heads used life savings for classic film

Thirty years after their influential concert film Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz reveals the band had to plunder their life savings in order to pay for the film.

Directed by Jonathan Demme, who later won an Oscar for The Silence Of The Lambs, the film concentrated on using dramatic lighting, lingering close-ups and very little in the way of audience footage. But that innovation came at a cost, as Frantz explains to Rolling Stone.

“One thing nobody every mentions is the fact the band paid for the movie,” he says. “Yes, we got a loan from Warner Bros, but it was against our royalties so the four of us coughed up the money.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of savings, so we were basically putting our life savings into the movie. I’m glad we did, because not only did we get it back, but we have a great film.”

Frantz, along with vocalist David Byrne, guitarist/keyboardists Jerry Harrison and bassist Tina Weymouth were on tour in support of their Speaking In Tongues album and the drummer says the idea for the lack of audience shots in the film was to give the viewer the best seat in the house.

“We didn’t want the cliches – we didn’t want close-ups of people’s fingers while they’re doing a guitar solo,” he says. “We wanted the camera to linger, so you could get to know the musicians a little bit.

“The idea was to have the movie presented to the viewer as if the viewer had the best seat in the house – and that doesn’t involve looking at the audience. We thought it would be like seeing the concert the way we in the band would like to see it.”

Frantz is married to Weymouth and they’re still recording in the Tom Tom Club. The drummer says they are well into the process of writing material for a new album, which will be the follow up to 2012’s Downtown Rockers.

“We have about half a dozen basic tracks recorded,” he says. “We’ve been talking about starting a project called Chris und Tina, like German style. The music will be totally electronic and kind of Germanic as opposed to rock and roll or funk. It’s inspired by Kraftwerk.”

The 30th anniversary edition of Stop Making Sense was released last month, while the film is also being re-released across the US this year.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.