Watch Talking Heads reunite for the first time in 20 years

Watch Talking Heads reunite for the first time in 20 years

Talking Heads reunited for a Q&A at the Toronto International Film Festival last night (September 11) – check out the footage below.

The band – comprising frontman David Byrne, bassist Tina Weymouth, drummer Chris Frantz and guitarist Jerry Harrison – made their first public appearance together in over 20 years at the event.

As announced last month, the long-awaited reunion was staged in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Talking Heads’ legendary concert film, Stop Making Sense (1984).

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The band members were joined by moderator Spike Lee (who produced and directed Byrne’s American Uptopia) for a brief Q&A following the debut screening of A24’s 4K restoration of the movie.

“It’s so good to be here with my bandmates tonight,” said Frantz, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It’s been a long time.” The publication reports that all four members sat in separate rows to watch the screening, but claimed no “tensions were on display”.

Despite prior speculation, Talking Heads did not perform acoustically or mention their tumultuous break-up. They instead spoke mainly about Stop Making Sense, which Lee described as “the greatest concert film ever”.

Byrne explained: “When I was watching this just now, I was thinking, ‘This is why we come to the movie theatres’. This is different than watching it on my laptop – this is really different.”

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Later, Harrison touched on “the lasting power of the film” and how Talking Heads were “having so much fun onstage” while recording the show. “[There is] love and fun, and the audience is brought right into it,” he said. “Every time anybody watches it, it brings back that wonderful emotion.”

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Byrne at one point explained his decision to don his now-iconic oversized suit for Stop Making Sense. “The origin of that was… we were in between tours, and I was thinking, ‘What are we gonna do next? Maybe I should rethink what we wear onstage’,” he recalled.

“I was having dinner in Japan after we finished the tour, and this designer there said, ‘Well, David. In the theatre, everything is bigger than [in] real life’. He’s referring to like gestures… you sing louder and all that.”

He added: “I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my suit should be bigger too.”

Harrison then remembered how the chosen outfit was one of two suits that had been designed for the performance.

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“Actually, the one that [Byrne] used… [it] was a friend of mine who made it,” he said. “Because the second one had sort of plastic. [It] was lighter, but it didn’t move with your body the same. This one reacted with you.”

Towards the end of the conversation, Harrison – who had previously been a member of The Modern Lovers – talked about how Talking Heads’ music “felt new”. “When I joined the band, I went, ‘There’s nothing – nothing – going on like this’,” he said.

“‘I don’t know how big an audience we’re going to get, but I know that we are going to be treading new ground’. And I think we did, and that’s why [the group’s music] is timeless.”

You can watch Talking Heads’ full Q&A at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival in the video above. Find upcoming cinema screenings of Stop Making Sense here.

The TIFF session marked the former bandmates’ first public appearance together since their 2002 Rock ’N’ Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony.

Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, David Byrne, and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads pose for publicity shots in December 1977 in Hollywood, California. Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, David Byrne, and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads pose for publicity shots in December 1977 in Hollywood, California. CREDIT: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Last month, Harrison said working on the re-release of Stop Making Sense acted as somewhat of a “healing experience” for Talking Heads.

Byrne also recently explained that he regrets the way the band split, and confessed that he was a “little tyrant” at the time. The singer has since elaborated on the members’ current relationship, likening their break-up to a “divorce”.

“We get along OK. It’s all very cordial and whatever,” he said. “It’s not like we’re all best friends. But everybody’s very happy to see this film coming back out.

“We’re all united in the fact that we really love what we did here. So that kind of helps us talk to one another and get along.”

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