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May 13, 1988 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1988-05-13

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dered through most of the funky "Rev It Up," and
now they don't know how to end it. After jamming
in place for about a minute, the players stop
abruptly and compare notes. "Let's do it again,"
says Harrison. "I would like to know how to get out
of there." The guitarist, Alex Weir, scat-sings a
suggestion. The band tries again, and, toward the
end, Harrison abruptly switches from synthesizer
to guitar for a fiery solo to conclude the song. Only
the band doesn't know he's finished until he an-
nounces, "That's the end." Four days from now,
Casual Gods starts its tour.
Ten days after the lunch, David Byrne sits by
himself in a room in Los Angeles. On the wall next
to him are 60 index cards, arranged into eight
columns. Videotapes, books, scripts and records
take up the shelves in the room. At the desk, he
writes out scenes for "The Forest," a movie that
will transplant the Epic of Gilgamesh from pre-
historic Mesopotamia to 19th-century Germany.
(The movie "True Stories" was the first feature-
length film he directed.) The same story will be
told on the stage by avant-garde theater director
Robert Wilson. Byrne has been writing out ideas
in longhand for the past few days. Now he gets up
and rearranges the cards on the wall.
Two weeks after the lunch, Tina Weymouth and
Chris Frantz watch an electric violinist, Heidi
Berg, in the control room of a Manhattan record-
ing studio. She's attempting a solo for bridge No. 6
of a Tom Tom Club song called "Little Eva." After
she plays along with the intense, brooding prere-
corded track (drums, bass, keyboards and guitar),
Weymouth and Frantz decide that her dancing
riffs don't fit the tune. The violinist asks, "So you
want it more Indianish, more weird?" "Yeah,"
says Weymouth, "because it's going to be fea-
tured." Frantz adds, "I think it would be nice if we
did it spacey." It's the end of their studio time, so a
two-track cassette of the song is made to be listened
to overnight. They arrange for the violinist to
return the next morning at the beginning of re-
cording, 11 a.m.
As furiously creative people, the Heads have
naturally looked beyond the group for artistic sat-
isfaction. Says Byrne: "The group doesn't take my

spend a lot of time creating the way we're going to
work. Thinking about that first. We know that
the way we choose to record an album has a great
effect on how it turns out in the end." The quartet
started with 10 days of jamming in New York last
May. Says Frantz: "We started with a figure, like
a beat or a bass part or something, and then
people would add to it, and then we would turn on
this little cassette player, and then play it until it
fell apart, and then stop the cassette recorder.
And then repeat the process again. Then we'd
listen to all those things and choose the most
promising bits." These edited jams were the basis
for nearly everything that was recorded for the
next six weeks in Paris.
The vocals developed in a similar way. While in
Paris, Byrne would sit down with a tape recorder
and improvise vocally along with a fairly finished
instrumental track. What came out of his mouth
was something between gibberish and real lan-
guage. "Sometimes words come out, but usually it
sounds almost like words," says Byrne. "For me,
they could stay that way. The emotion and feeling
are all there. It's just putting those damned words
in there." Byrne began to develop the lyrics first in
Paris and then later in London and New York. "I
listen to the music we've done and think of the
various subjects I've been thinking about or con-
cerned about and see if any of them fit with the
mood of the music. In some cases I would write
words to the music without an attempt to get any
meaning out of them. Then I would look at them,
and keep the two things that had a meaning for me
and throw out the rest of them. I go through that
process about three times."
Work in progress
One week after the lunch, Jerry Harrison re-
hearses with the Casual Gods (keyboardist, drum-
mer, bassist, guitarist, two backup singers) in a
Manhattan studio. They have successfully thun-

ri1wmrn~ vn~

Tom Tom Club: Frantz
and Weymouth at the
studio control board

MAY 1988

NEWSWEEK ON CAMPUS 11

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