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 Home is where I want to be
Home is where I want to be
Tina Weymouth Bio PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 01 June 2008 14:36
Tina Weymouth
Born in California to an American father and a French mother, Martina Weymouth was frequently relocated to different parts of the world during her childhood as a result of her father's duties in the Navy. Her life as a musician was launched at the age of twelve when she became a member of a medieval-themed touring handbell ensemble, with whom she performed at churches, schools and -- on one occasion -- at the New York World's Fair. At the age of fourteen she taught herself to play folk music on the acoustic guitar, but this direction was abandoned later in her high school years, and more than a decade would pass before playing music once again became a major part of her life. In the early 1970s Weymouth enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design, and it was here that she became entangled with fellow student Chris Frantz -- another lapsed musician who was about to take up his drumsticks once again in The Artistics with singer/guitarist David Byrne. Weymouth was a dedicated fan of the noisy ensemble, attending every performance and assisting in the composition of one of their few original numbers, an early version of the song Psycho Killer.

The Artistics dissolved in mid-1974, after which Byrne moved to New York City to concentrate on songwriting; upon receiving their RISD degrees a month later, Weymouth and Frantz followed him there, the three taking up residence together in a loft on the city's Lower East Side. Byrne and Frantz eventually resumed their musical collaboration -- joined shortly afterwards by Weymouth, who took up bass playing duties simply because no one else could be convinced to join. After six months of rehearsal this line-up, under the name of Talking Heads, made an auspicious public debut opening for The Ramones at the Bowery's CBGB club. The fortunes of the band took off quickly enough that all three could dedicate themselves to their music full-time within a year of this first performance, and had secured a record contract with New York-based label Sire Records by the end of 1976. A bit of internal tension was generated when Byrne then insisted that Weymouth audition in order to justify her continued membership, but, with the addition of fourth member Jerry Harrison, the band's popularity continued to surge forward with the subsequent release of their first album Talking Heads: 77 and the single Psycho Killer.

In the remainder of the decade, Talking Heads expanded upon their reputation for audio innovation with the Brian Eno produced albums More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978), Fear of Music (1979), and Remain in Light (1980). During a short break after the release of this last record, Weymouth and Frantz (who had married in 1977) founded the dance-oriented side project Tom Tom Club, issuing a self-titled debut at the end of 1981. Unexpectedly, the single Genius of Love shot to the top of the disco and R&B charts a few months later, pushing the sales of the full-length well beyond what any Talking Heads releases had yet achieved. Work with the full band (and without Eno) continued in 1982, resulting in one of the band's most popular albums Speaking in Tongues (released in 1983); a second Tom Tom Club offering Close to the Bone also materialized that same year (a 3 track EP Under the Boardwalk having surfaced in the interim) but did not manage to repeat the breakaway success of its predecessor.

After three more well-received studio albums (and two films) the dissolution of Talking Heads arrived in 1991; by this time Weymouth and Frantz had already resumed activity as Tom Tom Club, the third and fourth releases -- Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom (1988) and Dark Sneak Love Action (1991) -- being completed before the official announcement concerning the end of their other band had been made. In the early-to-mid 1990s the pair temporarily shifted their partnership away from their own projects and concentrated instead on producing sessions for other performers such as Angelfish, Happy Mondays and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. An attempt at a Talking Heads reunion in 1996 -- scuttled by David Byrne's refusal to participate -- resulted in the short-lived project The Heads, whose sole release found Weymouth, Frantz and Harrison replacing Byrne with a roster of vocalists ranging from Blondie's Debbie Harry to XTC's Andy Partridge. The abbreviated name prompted Byrne to file a lawsuit against his former bandmates, but ultimately an out-of-court settlement was reached allowing for its continued use.

The story of Talking Heads ultimately concluded on a positive note when the band was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, an event that allowed the four members (joined by past expanded line-up members Steve Scales and Bernie Worrell) to reconcile their differences and present one final public performance. With the arrival of the 00s, Weymouth and Frantz once again resumed work as the Tom Tom Club and released a fifth album titled The Good, The Bad and The Funky (2000). The pair also welcomed the decade by branching out into new territory, adding their talents to the collective of musicians behind the animated-cartoon hip-hop crew Gorillaz.

"It makes a big difference in what you know you can do in life if experience has taught you you can live anywhere", Tina said in a 1984 interview in Guitar Player.  When she was twelve, Tina was a member of Mrs. Tufts' English Handbell Ringing Group, which was based in Washington, D.C., but toured around the Northeast. "We played in churces and schools in places like Pennsylvania, New ENgland, and the World's Fair in New York," Tina recalls. "Our repertoire was old English folk songs and medieval melodies, and we all wore Elizabethan costumes".

"I taught myself to play guitar when I was fourteen, but I didn't stick with it. No discipline. It was one of those things you'd do alone in your room to get away from your family when you're an adolescent and feel different from everybody else. I became captain of the cherleaders, but it didn't make me any happier. I still always felt really left out and different. Everybody hated highschool".

"I'm a self-taught musician. I was listening to the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary - a lot of folk, in fact. I learned a folk finger-picking style from one of those Pete Seeger books with little diagrams with numbers for the fingers". So although she had played musical instruments for several years and shared the Artistics' (pre-Talking Heads, see the early days) excitement over rock and roll music, Tina didn't think about playing in a band at that point. She was an Artistics fan from the downbeat, though. "I was at every performance and every rehearsal. It was very, very loud. You couldn't stand closer than fifty feet because it was so loud and abusive". Maybe the decibels had something to do with the frequent distortion of the band's name into The Autistics.
 
In 2006 Tina contributed a dark-electro track called "Incognito" to the Chicks on Speed project "Girl Monster". The track was recorded by Chris and Tina as one of the tracks for their yet unsurfaced project The Afterparty People. For "Girl Monster", the song was released under Tina's own name. 

Collaborations:

  • Producer (with Chris Frantz) for Ziggy Marley's album "Conscious Party" 
  • Producer (with Chris Frantz) for Ziggy Marley's album "One Bright Day" 
  • Producer (with Chris Frantz) for Happy Monday's album "...Yes, Please !" 
  • Producer (with Chris Frantz) for Los Fabulosos Cadillacs's album "Rey Azucar" 
  • Producer (with Chris Frantz) for Angelfish' album "Angelfish" 
  • Producer (with Chris Frantz) of several unreleased Ofra Haza songs 
  • Background vocals on Nona Hendrix' "Design For Living" 
  • Background vocals on Ian Dury's "Spasticus (Autisticus)" (album "Lord Upminster") 
  • Background vocals on The Rosenberg's album "Mission: You" 
  • Remixer (with Chris Frantz) of Zita Swoon's "Bananaqueen"
  • Sampled vocalist on Chicks on Speed's cover of Tom Tom Club's "Wordy Rappinghood"
  • Sampled vocalist on Kid Ginseng's song "Wild at Heart"
 

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