Still feelin’ it

30 years later, the geniuses of new-wave funk band Tom Tom Club are more dynamic than ever.

Tom Tom Club still have the heart and James Brown soul.

Photo Courtesy:Tom Tom Club

Tom Tom Club still have the heart and James Brown soul.

by Sally Hedberg

WHAT: Tom Tom Club with Psychedelic Furs

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 8, 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: First Ave, 701 First Ave N.

     COST: $23

Amid a musical movement centered on synthesizers, punchy hooks and sounding British (New Wave), the Talking Heads garnered a unique distinction as pop conduits of funk, soul, world music and, most memorably, unparalleled live performance.

But like most bewildering breakups, the dissolution of the band lacked any sense of closure. David ByrneâÄôs reluctance to continue remains largely unexplained. While his diva antics and avoidance of a reunion may tragically rob the world of new Talking Heads material, fellow pioneering bandmates Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz have continued their famed side project and extension of the band Tom Tom Club. Though not the Talking Heads, with a recently released live album and global tour these seminal rockers are certainly still turning heads.

âÄúRight now we have an excellent band,âÄù drummer Chris Frantz said. âÄúThey love to play and we love to play and weâÄôve got a head full of steam and decided that we were gonna go out and do a tour.âÄù

And at the root of it all, this tour is a celebration of their 2010 live album âÄúGenius of Live,âÄù of the thirty-year anniversary ofthe bandâÄôs existence (nearly double the life of the Talking Heads) and of their intriguing popularity amongst modern pop and hip-hop artists.

Dozens of artists spanning from Grandmaster Flash to Mariah Carey to Common have sampled the unmistakable beats of Tom Tom Club hits, like âÄúGenius of LoveâÄù and âÄúWordy Rappinghood.âÄù

Coming from a group that lived, played and grew throughout the height of rock âÄônâÄô roll, itâÄôs tempting to presume that theyâÄôd feel miffed by the modern reinterpretation. However, thatâÄôs not the reality in the slightest.

âÄúIt doesnâÄôt bother us at all, in fact we love it,âÄù Frantz said. âÄúThereâÄôs only one sampling request out of many, many requests that we turned down. It was way back in the âÄô90s in the heyday of gangsta rap, and there was some song about shooting somebody and stuffing them in the trunk. We thought, âÄômaybe not this one.âÄôâÄù

It makes sense. In 2011, there isnâÄôt much room for a band like Tom Tom Club to maintain relevance through what initially made them famous. But through all of the sampling their music endures and theyâÄôre able to keep financing the projects they really care about.

âÄúItâÄôs more of a challenge than ever today to make a living as a musician,âÄù Frantz said. âÄúWe feel very fortunate to have lived in the golden age of rock âÄônâÄô roll. In those days a person could really have a good time, so weâÄôre just continuing despite all of the changes in the music industry. WeâÄôre attempting to rise to the occasion.âÄù

Rising to the occasion for Tom Tom Club really just means pushing onward. They have no desire to adjust their style or outlook to accommodate the modern era. The only thing theyâÄôre accommodating is their love of performance and they have no plans to stop creating music. Of course they get nostalgic for selling out amphitheatres and after-partying with the Ramones, but theyâÄôre content to function in the present and theyâÄôve eased into the role of influencinga younger generation of musicians both nationally (YACHT) and globally (Lola Dutronic).

âÄúWe have many children,âÄù Frantz said. âÄúJust like James Brown had many children and Smokey Robinson had many children and Prince, you know, we do too and itâÄôs a great feeling.âÄù

If children are indeed a product of their raising, then itâÄôs a hopeful bet that the mark of such an important band will not soon be lost and, for the love of running in place, thatâÄôs a good thing.