Whenever a band busts up, the book tour of a less-than-publicly-prominent band member is inevitable. Russel Senior of Pulp fame gave us Freak Out the Squares, Alex Jones surrendered his memories of Blur in his autobiography, A Bit of Blur, and now, Chris Frantz, drummer and one-quarter of Talking Heads, dedicates his life and memories to his debut book, Remain in Love. Looking back with tinted nostalgia at the glory days of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, Frantz’s autobiography doesn’t wish to bury the hatchet with those that have crossed them or vice versa, but looks to recount the life of the Rockstar, and the unexpected marriage that has lasted for over forty years through it all with bass guitarist and fellow Talking Heads member, Tina Weymouth.
Opening by telling us of his early days as a student at Rhode Island School of Design, his first meeting with wife Tina Weymouth and frequent collaborators David Byrne and Jerry Harrison, Remain in Love fixates much of its long-winded opening on these moments. The rise to fame is documented in such vivid detail, but at times drones on for far longer than expected. Detailing every tour with a checklist of every venue they played, and then an unchanging rigmarole of how great the band is. “We played three encores”, “we played two encores”, and so on, and so on. It never changes from that fixed point, and outside of a few interesting anecdotes about The Ramones, XTC, Dire Straits and The B-52s, these moments never offer anything wholly fruitful.
It’s a shame too, since once the book makes its way to the real selling point, the Talking Heads period from Remain in Light to Stop Making Sense and The Tom Tom Club, Frantz’s steam has run out. He talks more about the fancy villas and apartments he and Weymouth rented in the Bahamas than of the recording process. Any anecdotes surrounding the band and its recording process are overwhelmed entirely by a never-fading bitterness towards frontman Byrne. Understandable, to a degree, and Frantz tries his best to balance his seemingly hate-fuelled sentences for Byrne with a ballast of praising his artistic work from time to time. His compliments to his former bandmate are few and far between, but, as he notes, so were those of Byrne’s.
Tension doesn’t so much seep off of the pages as it does slowly trundle its way through a rather predictable set of topics. Frantz’s lack of direction in bringing to life his more interesting stories is a real shame, his energy going into recounting celebrity encounters and naming hotels he stayed at, rather than talking of the Rockstar lifestyle that he eventually sought help for. They’re glanced at momentarily, his cocaine problem left as a mere paragraph towards the end of the book, their time producing Happy Mondays delegated to a meagre five pages. The dedication is there, but it’s in all the wrong places.
A comfortable read for only the most dedicated of Talking Heads fans, Remain in Love is a somewhat jaded recollection of memories, moments and mishaps during the rise and fall of arguably one of the most innovative bands to have ever graced music. Frantz’s writing style is solid, but is mired almost entirely by celebrity name-dropping, glossing over the ghoulish details fans of his work will no doubt be interested in.