The new wave rockers reunited onstage in Brooklyn for a screening of their groundbreaking 1984 concert film 'Stop Making Sense,' which is getting a re-release this month
Talking Heads were on top of the world with the 1984 release of their groundbreaking concert film Stop Making Sense. But despite critical acclaim and a raucous response from fans, the film also marked the end of an era — the band never toured again.
Now, as the film gets a 40th anniversary re-release by A24, the “Psycho Killer” rockers are reuniting and reflecting on the ways in which their fate as a band played out.
During a film screening and Q&A at BAM Harvey Theater in Brooklyn Wednesday night, bassist Tina Weymouth revealed her "regrets" at not continuing to tour after Stop Making Sense.
“It was really sad to just say, ‘Okay, the movie is gonna tour for us. That’s it,’” she said in a chat moderated by journalist John Heilemann. “I thought we could go on, we could go back to being a quartet. I thought we could do a million things. I thought we had a lot in us and we were so young to be retired at age 32.”
Still, the musician, 72, admitted she’s moved on: “But now that’s in the past and we don’t care anymore.”
Weymouth joined the group in the early 1970s alongside frontman David Byrne, keyboardist and guitarist Jerry Harrison and drummer Chris Frantz, her husband.
The group released eight albums together, rising to fame on the back of hits like “Psycho Killer” and on Byrne’s electrifyingly eccentric stage presence. After 1984, though, they stopped touring, and they were done putting out new music together by 1988; four years later, Frantz told the Los Angeles Times that Byrne had “just decided to leave” without discussion, leaving the other group members shocked and upset.
Harrison, 74, reflected on the band’s demise Wednesday night, saying he felt “there was a lost opportunity that would have been fun for all of us.” He also revealed that he had hopes Talking Heads could have a slot in the legendary 1985 Live Aid benefit concert lineup.
“I love playing live, so sure, I would have liked to have continued that,” he said. “I mean, I was disappointed that we were not a part of Live Aid because… I actually was in London in his office when Bob Geldof was trying to line people up. And so I kind of thought, ‘We should do this.’”
Despite his desire to play the show, Harrison said he knew Byrne had already all but moved on, and was hard at work on Talking Heads’ sixth album Little Creatures and his musical comedy satire film True Stories.
“He was in a different headspace with that,” he said. “But there is an element of, well how do you top this and things like that. So I think there was a little bit of trepidation that everybody felt of, once it’s ben captured in a film like this, we really have to kind of conceive of something new and that might take a little while.”
Byrne opened up to PEOPLE in August about the band’s acrimonious end, and admitted he was “not as pleasant to be around” in his younger years.
“When I was working on some Talking Heads shows, I was more of a little tyrant,” he said. “And then I learned to relax, and I also learned that collaborating with people, both sides get more if there’s a good relationship instead of me telling everybody what to do.”
The musician, who recently brought his musical Here Lies Love to Broadway, conceded that the split “wasn’t handled well,” and that he has “regrets on how that was handled.”
On Wednesday, Heilemann pressed the group — who last played together at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2002 — on whether the enthusiastic fan response to Stop Making Sense could inspire a reunion of sorts. Despite a rousing round of applause and plenty of whoops and hollers, the musicians deflected.
“Speaking personally, I’m just very happy,” said Frantz, 72. “I have a feeling of great gratitude to be here tonight with my bandmates, and to have a fabulous audience watching the movie in a great theater with a great emcee interviewing us. I’m just happy right now in this moment.”
Stop Making Sense, directed by the late Oscar-winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme, was shot over three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, and released the next year.
The setlist is a retrospective of the band up to that point, and also includes solo Byrne tracks and “Genius of Love,” a hit from Weymouth and Frantz’s side project Tom Tom Club.
A remastered version of the film will be released in IMAX on Sept. 22 and hit theaters everywhere on Sept. 29.
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