NEW NEW YORK: CHRIS FRANTZ AND TINA WEYMOUTH, DOWNTOWN ROCKERS

By Jessica Glick

I stepped off the train and saw him standing there. He directed me to his car, I entered on the passenger’s side, and he began to navigate his way through the winding suburban streets. He finally stopped in front of a pebbled road and turned. To the right, there was a large pond, behind a line of trees, his house. He would later refer to it as the “volcano,” which was fitting; the dark and rough exterior encased the gelatinous creativity oozing inside. He parked the car and we walked through the side door of the large wooden structure.

We entered into a room filled with instruments, records, and posters. Passing the winding staircase near the far right corner, we were suddenly inside the kitchen. Moments later, she arrived and we said our hellos. He reminded her that we first met at a music venue in Fairfield, Connecticut. It was Halloween night and they were performing with a friend and fellow Tom Tom Club band member. As we sat down in their backyard, we easily found ourselves discussing the aforementioned bands new EP. He told me that they are only releasing the album digitally and on 12” vinyl. They’ve found that nowadays people prefer to download music directly to their iPods instead of buying CDs. Released on their label, Tip Top Records, the five new songs were partially inspired by a film about the Stax’s band. Booker T and The MGs, Sam & Dave, and Wilson Pickett, were just some of the groups that played a seminal role in their adolescents. Along with these bands, their voyage through the CBGBs scene and a stint in the jam band circuit facilitated in the development of who they would become. Their current classic Americana sound was influenced by the basic quartet of their predecessors, which was keys, guitar, bass, and drums.

Using this simplistic musical genus allowed them to return to their roots before forging into new areas. It was also a return to what formed their previous band, The Talking Heads. This approach has a lot of space, or what they refer to as “air,” the opposite of Phil Spector’s “The Wall of Sound,” which she believes to be, in some ways, more beautiful. She stopped speaking for a moment to gather her thoughts. I quickly glanced at him as if he knew what she wanted to say. I heard her speak again and looked back in her direction. She finished her thought by saying it was important for them to go back especially because today’s music seems to fill every empty space. Although she appreciates the evolution of sound, she thinks the silence is important. She says that a song is like a canvas in which you apply your paint and it’s important not to fill it all up. Her usage of the metaphor seemed appropriate as we began to discuss their time at Rhode Island School of Design, where they first met.

They both were studying painting. He had dreams of being in a band, and she had already fallen in love with him and had a passion for music as well, so they began to play together. She found that music fulfilled a lot of the same things as painting did. They consider themselves artists first and then musicians second, however, they both found that the cold life they experienced as painters was not one they wanted to live. She veered slightly off topic as she began to discuss rumors I may have heard about rock n’ roll and painting being dead. Things, she said, come along and refresh everything. She believes that the point is whether your painting or making music, you should challenge yourself because the true enjoyment is in the process…

…Afterwards, I followed them inside. She walked into another room as he directed me to their studio, which was hidden in the back of their house. We went up the stairs and on to the porch. I heard the distant sound of water as I looked at the tree branches bending down from above. There was an ominous silver tint in the sky; we wondered if it would rain. He looked at the time and realized I might miss my train and so, we got in the car and headed to the station. Once there, we said our goodbyes. As he drove away, I found myself contemplating what she had said. I realized that it is difficult to be present in the process if you’re perpetually anticipating the end result

-Jessica Glick

Jessica Glick is a photographer, writer, and music lover. She developed an interest in photography while working at various Lower East Side music venues. Jessica started photographing local musician and has now expanded her work to include fine art and fashion. In addition to photography, Jessica has been writing since she was a child. Attempting to combine her writings with her photo work, she created an ongoing portrait/story series called VAGABOND.