Talking Heads percussionist Chris Frántz on his new book, ‘Remain In Love’

REMAIN IN LOVE: Photo courtesy St. Martin’s Press.

Chris Frántz is best known as a songwriter, producer, and founding member of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club. His sprawling and stylish drumming played a key role in pushing post-punk and new wave inflections beyond the commonly held notions of what constitutes rock ‘n’ roll, while always remaining at least three steps ahead of his contemporaries.

In a new memoir titled Remain In Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, and Tina (St. Martin’s Press), Frántz offers a look inside his storied life, recalling tales of meeting Talking Heads singer and guitarist David Byrne while studying at Rhode Island School of Design in the ‘70s, and shaping new facets of creativity in popular music alongside his wife and bass player Tina Weymouth.

On Wednesday, July 22 at 8 p.m. (Eastern), A Cappella Books hosts Frántz in a Zoom conversation with yours truly. We’ll discuss everything from reconciling art and live music on stage and scoring hits with Talking Heads songs such as “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down the House” and Tom Tom Club’s “Genius Of Love” and “Wordy Rappinghood” to life in the modern world.

Our interview will be followed by an online Q&A session with everyone who tunes in. Tickets are limited to 100 guests. Pre-order a signed copy of Remain in Love via A Cappella Books to receive your private invitation via email. Signed copies of the book will arrive via shipping or local delivery (where applicable) shortly after the interview.

Head over to A Cappella Books to pre-order Remain In Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina.

Chris Frántz. Photo by James Swaffiield.

PHOTOS: Wire at Variety Playhouse Saturday, March 7

Wire photo by Mike White of Deadly Designs.

Before Atlanta shut down over the COVID-19 pandemic, Wire played a show at Variety Playhouse on March 7, 2020. It was a Saturday night, and it was the last show I was lucky enough to catch before statewide shelter-in-place orders became too urgent to ignore.

It had been a few years since the British post-punk legends last made an appearance in Little 5 Points. For this show, co-founding members singer and bass player Colin Newman, guitarist and vocalist Graham Lewis, and drummer Robert Grey, along with guitarist Matthew Simms—the latter of whom has been a member of Wire since 2010—were playing shows on the heels of releasing their most recent album at the time, Mind Hive.

Striking a balance between intimacy and intellect—punk reflexes and avant-garde instincts—lies at the core of Wire’s singularly introspective brand of art rock in the post-aughts. There’s a tactile energy between Newman and Lewis’ words and the drawn-out musical atmosphere that billows around them. Channeling this for the Variety Playhouse’s mostly full 1,000-seat room is no simple feat. But on March 7, Wire reached deep with a 19-song set underscoring the strengths of Mind Hive, while breathing new life into a handful of classic numbers as well.

Perhaps one of the most stunning moments of the night’s performance—aside from “Oklahoma” being an absolute barnburner—was the spacious reinvention of “Over Theirs.” The song, which originally appeared on Wire’s 1987 LP The Ideal Copy, is a barbed and paranoid lurker, cut from the digital textures and sparse rhythms of an era when synthesizers were still a new thing for a foundational British punk band to push forward. At Variety Playhouse, “Over Theirs” went to a dark, muscular, and more cavernous place than its Reagan/Thatcher-era origins, showing off wholly new depth and nuance in the song’s menacing nature. When placed alongside both older and newer numbers such as “Be Like Them,” “German Shepherds,” and “Ex-Lion Tamer” the song unfolded like a cautionary anthem for the darkness that still lies ahead.

Mind Hive has been a solid contender for album of the year, at least in my book. That is, until yet another Wire album arrived in June, titled 10:20. The new album is a collection of upgraded rarities, distilling Wire’s post-2010s stylistic growth into an exquisite and wholly new offering that’s bursting with self-references that reach all the way back to 1978’s Chairs Missing LP. More on that later, but sure enough, the freshly reinvented “Over Theirs” appears on the B-side in all of its ominous glory.

Photographer Mike White of Deadly Designs was there, too, and captured these images from the show.

Setlist
“The Offer”
“Be Like Them”
“1st Fast”
“Cactused”
“Morning Bell”
“Question of Degree”
“Over Theirs”
“German Shepherds”
“I Should Have Known Better”
“Patterns of Behaviour”
“Primed and Ready”
“Ex Lion Tamer”
“It’s a Boy”
“French Film Blurred”
“Oklahoma”
“Hung”

Encore:
“Outdoor Miner”
“Former Airline”
“A Touching Display”

Wire at Variety Playhouse Saturday, March 7

Photo courtesy Wire

Wire + Wire DJs (a different member of Wire DJing each night). $25-$40. 7 p.m. (doors). Sat., March 7 @ Variety Playhouse | Buy tickets

Wire is signing copies of Mind Hive across the street at Criminal Records (1154 Euclid Ave. N.E. A) between 4:30 and 5 p.m. To participate, arrive early and purchase Hive Mind on CD or LP at the shop on the day of show to get a wristband at the cash register. Criminal will have a limited quantity of alternative titles for those who have already bought the new album at the store.

Rad/ATL’s Hidden Hand podcast: An interview with Thom Fuhrmann of Savage Republic

Savage Republic was born amid the Los Angeles punk scene of the early 1980s, when former UCLA students guitarist Bruce Licher and drummer Mark Erskine formed the band Afrika Corps. Before releasing their 1982 debut LP Tragic Figures, the group’s name changed and a menacing post-industrial clatter took shape around Middle Eastern imagery and surf rock ambiance. Savage Republic’s sound was contemptuous, noisy and politically-charged, settling in with song titles such as “Kill the Fascists!,” “Mobilization,” and “Attempted Coup: Madagascar.” They shared the stage with groups such as Sonic Youth, Public Image Ltd., Swans, Fugazi, and more.

Amid lineup changes, songwriter and guitarist Thom Fuhrmann joined Savage Republic in 1983, and first appeared playing keyboards on the song “Trek” from the group’s 1985 EP, titled Trudge (Play It Again Sam Records).

Over the decades, Fuhrmann has assumed a leadership role in Savage Republic. In 2019, he fronts the group, standing alongside drummer Alan Waddington, bass player Kerry Dowling, and long-standing guitarist and percussionist Ethan Port.

In 2014, the group released a full-length LP, titled Aegean, with songs such as “Arab Spring,” “Victory,” “27 Days,” and “Peloponesia” placing Savage Republic’s original aesthetic into a modern context. A 2018 7-inch single featuring the songs “God & Guns” and “Tranquilo” further sharpen the group’s stance against right-wing influences gaining a stranglehold on modern America.

After wrapping up a late summer Midwestern tour en route to record new material with Steve Albini at Chicago’s Electrical Audio, Fuhrmann made his way to Atlanta where we caught up over breakfast.

For this second part of my breakfast conversation with Savage Republic’s guitarist and frontman Thom Fuhrmann, we talk about the origins, evolutions, and tragic circumstances surrounding the work he’s recorded under the name Autumnfair, and more about what the future holds in store for Savage Republic.

To learn more about Savage Republic and Autumnfair look online at www.mobilization.com.