In conversation: Chad Smith with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth

Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Chad Smith, photographed at Barbetta, New York City, July 2013
Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Chad Smith, photographed at Barbetta, New York City, July 2013 (Image credit: Joe Bosso)

On most summer nights, the garden of New York City's Barbetta restaurant offers patrons a tranquil and enchanted al fresco dining experience. But all week long, the Northeast has been wilting under a punishing 95-degree-and-above heat wave, so all of the action at the Theater District eatery, said to be the oldest such establishment in Manhattan, has moved inside to the air-conditioned, dimly lit environs of the main room.

And that's where we find a couple of Downtown Rockers, Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth. Seated at a primo corner table, the husband-and-wife Rock And Rock Hall Of Famers (for Talking Heads), who for over 30 years have led their own band Tom Tom Club, look cool and crisp in matching white. Just two days ago, they returned from a month-long tour of Europe, and while normally after such a trek they'd still be unpacking, going through the mail and getting reacquainted with their beloved purebred beagle, Poppy, tonight's dinner date has been long planned, and their expected companion - their host, in fact - has just arrived.

Chad Smith has never met Frantz and Weymouth before this evening, but he greets them with the same kind of affectionate warmth that he extends to old friends. Within minutes, he establishes a gentle and easy rapport with the legendary rhythm section, who, like himself, have done much to spread the waters of funk and rock and their myriad subgenres.

Over the course of two hours, while sampling some of Barbetta's exquisite Northern Italian fare, the three musicians talk engagingly, swapping vivid stories about art, touring, CBGBs, the Ramones, eating like a pope, drumming, family life and even prostate health.

Special thanks to Laura Glass and Suzanna Gardijan.

In Conversation: Chad Smith with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth will be presented in two installments. Part One begins below:

Edited transcript:

Chad Smith: So you guys lived in New York. [to the Waiter] "Grande."

Tina Weymouth: No, we left 27 years ago. We live 50 miles northeast on The Sound in Connecticut.

Chad Smith: Oh, you're Connecticut people?

Chris Frantz: Yeah, we have been for a while.

Tina Weymouth: I think they call them "Connecticutters." But I always wanted it to be Connecticutions.

Chad Smith: Yeah, that's better.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: That sounds less cutting. Mean.

Tina Weymouth: But I learned that that's where the term "Yankee" comes from. Because when the Dutch first came to New York and Connecticut, the British would teasingly call them "Yan Cheese."

Chad Smith: Yan Cheese?

Tina Weymouth: They were all named Yan and they all would sell cheese.

Chad Smith: Is that right?

Tina Wemouth: So they called them Yan Cheese. "Oh, he's Yan Cheese." And that became "Yankee."

Chris Frantz: But we've lived in New York for a long time before we made the move up to Connecticut, even though that was a long time ago, too. But this is where we got our, you know, this is where our musical roots are, you know?

Chad Smith: Yeah. But meeting, you guys met up at the arts school in Rhode Island, right?

Chris Frantz: Yeah, Rhode Island School Of Design.

Chad Smith: I'll drink out of that one. I'll mix it - I'll go crazy.

Tina Weymouth: A very good year, this one.

Chad Smith: Yes, yes, the best! Only the finest. So you guys met - you met up, and I know that you're a painter and a sculptor. Were you doing that then?

Chris Frantz: Well, I didn't do too much sculpture, but painting, yes. That's what we were studying. In fact, we have degrees in painting.

Chad Smith: Are you painting degrees?

Chris Frantz: Yes, a Bachelor of Fine Arts, they call it. You can get one of those for sculpture also - or print making or whatever. But yeah, it was a great place. RISD they call it. That's where we met; we met David Burn there. We met a lot of cool people there who are still our friends.

Chad Smith: Art school - man, there's something about it. Some of my favorite English bands…

Chris Frantz: Did any of you guys go to art school?

Chad Smith: No, no. We barely got through high school. [Chris laughs]

Tina Weymouth: Did you grow up in LA?

Chad Smith: I did not. I grew up in Michigan, outside of Detroit.

© Joe Bosso

Chris Frantz: Good for you.

Tina Weymouth: That's a cool place for artists today.

Chad Smith: Good artist town, good music town.

Chris Frantz: It's rough there, though, in Detroit.

Tina Mouth: It's rough, but the rent is doable for an artist.

Chris Frantz: Yeah, it's good for people on a low budget, but I mean, I've never seen so many boarded up places than the last time we were there which was a little over a year ago. It was horrifying, actually.

Chad Smith: Because Detroit was such a great city.

Tina Weymouth: It's such a cool place.

Chad Smith: Such an important and industrial city.

Tina Weymouth: That's the fault of the politicians.

Chad Smith: Oh, my God, they've destroyed -

Tina Weymouth: But the community is doing its own thing now, I think.

Chad Smith: Yeah, I think so. I think you're right. I hope somebody can turn it around. [to the Waiter] Hi. Can I have the menus, and I'll have one, too? [to Chris and Tina] Have you guys eaten here before?

Tina Weymouth: No.

Chris Frantz: No.

Chad Smith: I didn't pick this place.

Tina Weymouth: Completely amazing. Ooh, I can eat like a pope here!

Chad Smith: [Laughs] How does the Pope eat?

Tina Weymouth: It says so. "It has been widely reported by the Italian press that Bagna Cauda is a favorite of Pope Francis."

Chris Frantz: "Eat like a pope" - that's wh­at it says!

Chad Smith: Let's eat like a pope? Oh, I see it.

Tina Weymouth: "Bagna Cauda is a classic dish of Piemonte…

Chris Frantz: The Pope of Montauk.

Chad Smith: [Laughs] Pope of Montauk.

Tina Weymouth: See, I thought he was from Argentina.

Chris Frantz: The new pope is, yes.

Tina Weymouth: And they say that the new pope's family still resides in -

Chris Frantz: You know, we were just in Italy.

Tina Weymouth: Oh, it is Pope Francis.

Chris Frantz: You know, in Europe, the gas stations are really great. And they have, you could take a shower there; you could buy any number of cookies or candies or ice creams, magazines, novels, or you can get a giant gift package that has all things related to the Pope. His autobiography [they laugh], an autographed poster, a hat…

Chad Smith: Really? They got it all.

Chris Frantz: A hat that says, like Francesco on it, Papa Francesco. And it's so great. I love the gas stations of Europe for that.

Chad Smith: Yeah, they're not the greasy… you know.

Chris Frantz: Yeah. You know, in Germany, I was tempted to buy, we stopped at a truck stop. I was actually tempted to buy one of those fluorescent green, like, guys who work on the highway jackets. It was very well tailored and sharp-looking, in their bright fluorescent green. I managed to hold off. [Chad laughs]

Tina Weymouth: Well, you know, they're required, for your car, you're required to have one of those in your car as part of your emergency kits.

Chris Frantz: Ohhhh. In case you have a flat tire on the Autobahn.

Tina Weymouth: You're supposed to wear it, or anywhere in Europe. We have one in the Clio.

Chris Frantz: Oh, do we?

Tina Weymouth: My dad got one for the Clio. We have a really old little Renault Clio. Runs like a little Singer sewing machine.

Chad Smith: Two hundred thousand miles on it.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, but they operate at faster RPMs than American cars. That's why they drive so fast. You can't slow down in those cars. That's why they have those roundabouts, you know? They don't have stops. You've just gotta keep going. It's not gonna idle at a slow pace. It's gotta keep going.

Chad Smith: I'm learning stuff. I didn't know any of this. This is great.

Chris Frantz: You guys have toured Europe, though.

Chad Smith: We've toured Europe many times.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, but you probably tour it very differently from the way we do it.

Chad Smith: Well, you know…

Tina Weymouth: You probably tour it all weeks, with a double-decker bus, and -

Chad Smith: Well, no. For the last…

Tina Weymouth: You probably each have your own bus.

Chad Smith: No, we fly.

Tina Weymouth: And do you have in-ears? And do you each have your own little in-ear setup like Live has on his stage? Each one is his own monitor man.

Chad Smith: Who's that? Live?

Tina Weymouth: The band Live. They each have that.

Chris Frantz: I think they've reformed. They're making a new record with a new lead singer. Because the lead singer flew the coup, and I think they waited, like, 10 years for him to come back, and they decided to continue without him. But anyway, what were we talking about?

Tina Weymouth: We were talking about in-ear monitors. No, how they tour.

Chris Frantz: You guys fly. You guys have a private jet.

Chad Smith: Well, we've been very fortunate that, you know, probably since '95 or '97, that the easiest and best way around all of them, and the most cost-effective, is to hire a charter airplane and fly...

Tina Weymouth: But you guys could do that. Because you worked really hard to get to that spot, and so you can do that, because you have worked huge amount of hours. They have no idea, and just the amount of videos alone that you have done, I have to say.

Chad Smith: Videos take a long time to make.

Tina Weymouth: They are so many hours.

Chad Smith: They see a four-minute clip, and they say "Oh, that must've taken a couple hours to put together."

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, people have no idea.

Chris Frantz: Well, we remember when video budgets were really high. Now, it's not like that anymore. Certain artists, yes, like Beyonce or Macklemore. Seems like they have a pretty high budget. But our last video, we practically made for free.

Tina Weymouth: Well, thanks to our -

Chris Frantz: Thanks to our director who contributed his service.

Tina Weymouth: Who was incredibly generous.

Chris Frantz: There's no way that MTV or whatever is gonna play it, so it ends up on YouTube, which is great, because that's what all the kids wanna see anyway.

Tina Weymouth: YouTube is the place.

Chad Smith: Yes, it is.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: Definitely. It's the most happening place. Everything is there. I can watch videos about a 16-year-old Japanese squirrel named Hyuta - and your kids would love it. Hyuta is 16.

© Joe Bosso

Chad Smith: Now is that old for squirrels?

Tina Weymouth: Oh, for sure.

Chad Smith: That's an old squirrel?

Tina Weymouth: That's an old squirrel.

Chad Smith: Japanese?

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, he's living in Japan, and he went through the earthquakes and tsunami and everything. And it's just fantastic that on YouTube, you can go and you can watch hedgehogs having a bath, taking a bath - that's awesome.

Chris Frantz: I love a hedgehog!

Chad Smith: Check this out!

Tina Weymouth: Exactly!

Chad Smith: And then the other things link to the things that you like.

Chris Frantz: A good hedgehog will do very interesting things in your bathtub. [Chad laughs]

Tina Weymouth: But those are the kinds of things that calm me down. I mean, there are other ones that are like "How to skin a squirrel" and one, you know, people who shoot squirrels and skin them. You can see those YouTube videos if that's your…

Chad Smith: It has everything - it really does. It's the medium for whatever you're interested in seeing. "Blank blank blank" and there's like… it all comes out.

Tina Weymouth: And how to play the ukulele, and -

Chris Frantz: Have you had a chance to look?

Tina Weymouth: Oh, yes.

Chad Smith: Are you gonna eat like the Pope? Who's gonna eat like the Pope? Chris?

Tina Weymouth: I definitely want a pasta.

Chad Smith: Now, when were you guys in Italy?

Tina Weymouth: We just came back.

Chris Frantz: We came back a day before yesterday.

Chad Smith: You're kidding!

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: No.

Chad Smith: Oh, my God!

Tina Weymouth: It was so wonderful.

Chris Frantz: We did a tour of the UK, we played the Glastonbury Festival -

Chad Smith: Oh, with The Rolling Stones?

Chris Frantz: The day before the Stones.

Tina: We were with Chic.

Chris Frantz: But let tell you who we played with. We shared the stage with Chic.

Chad Smith: Awesome - Nile Rodgers!

Tina Weymouth: Yes!

Chris Frantz: Nile was fabulous.

Tina Weymouth: Nile lives near us.

Chad Smith: He's a nice guy. I like him.

Tina Weymouth: He is, he is. Super talented.

Chris Frantz: He lives near us; he's a neighbor of ours in Connecticut. Great guy. I'm very happy for him because he's had a rough period with cancer.

Tina Weymouth: Losing Bernard, too.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: I mean, that was rough.

Chris Frantz: Losing friends. Bernard died. Tony, the drummer, died.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chris Frantz: He lost a lot of friends.

Tina Weymouth: And he himself had that.

Chris Frantz: He himself had a serious battle with cancer, and he seemed fine when he stayed.

© Joe Bosso

Tina Weymouth: Oh, he's beaten it. He's gone AA and everything. He's great.

Chris Frantz: But, we did that. We did… He has that huge hit with Daft Punk.

Chad Smith: Oh, my word.

Tina Weymouth: Oh, my God.

Chris Frantz: Which you can't go anywhere in the world and not hear that song.

Chad Smith: It's everywhere?

Chris Frantz: Yeah, it's everywhere.

Tina Weymouth: That's his guitar sound.

Chad Smith: Totally.

Tina Weymouth: I mean, when he plays his guitar on stage, you say, "Oh, my God, that's it!"

Chad Smith: "That's him!" That's the greatest… any, whether it's on record or live or whatever, you go see somebody, and it doesn't really matter what they're playing, but the sound of them playing.

Tina Weymouth: You know it's him!

Chad Smith: And your eyes are closed, and you know who it is.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: It's so distinctive.

Chad Smith: So distinctive, but it's a rare thing.

Tina Weymouth: Oh, I'll bet you have it.

Chad Smith: No, I don't think so, but except my wife's, and she's not super musically inclined, which is great. She's an architect.

Tina Weymouth: Oh, no way!

Chris Frantz: Cool, cool.

Chad Smith: Very artistic, but not in the music sort of thing. But she says, "I can tell…" Like, I'll play a record, like the last thing I did here with Joe was with a group called The Avett Brothers from North Carolina.

Chris Frantz: Oh yeah, yeah.

Chad Smith: I played on their record, but I didn't play on all the records, about four parts. So I said, "Here's… These guys are playing the show with us." And I played the record for her. "No, that's not you. Oh, yeah! That one's you."

Tina Weymouth: She can tell.

Chad Smith: She can tell. She says, "There's some kind of space." I'm like, "That's interesting."

Tina Weymouth: I can always tell Chris. It's because he has that really rock steady kick and snare -

Chad Smith: Yes, he does.

Tina Weymouth: But then, his hi-hat is all swing. It's so cool, and I always know it's musical. I mean, even before I have to come up with a part, it's already music. Makes it easy.

Chad Smith: Ohhh, how about that?

Chris Frantz: That's a nice compliment.

Chad Smith: That's a nice thing to say.

Chris Frantz: You know, the famous Lisa Kristal - not Lisa Kristal.

Tina Weymouth: Karen Kristal.

Chris Frantz: Karen Kristal.

Tina Weymouth: Oh, she was so sweet.

Chris Frantz: Hilly Kristal, the owner of CBGBs.

Tina Weymouth: She was a curmudgeon most of the time, but she was so sweet to us.

Chris Frantz: She loved the Talking Heads. She hated every other band there, but she used to say… When we were doing our soundcheck, she would always be in there, making sure that… I don't know what exactly she was checking up on, but she was always checking up in the late afternoon, making sure everything was OK.

Chad Smith: What was it? Was she the…

Tina Weymouth: She was co-owner.

Chris Frantz: She was Hilly's wife.

Chad Smith: OK.

Chris Frantz: Ex-wife.

Chad Smith: OK.

Chris Frantz: But she was the co-owner.

Chad Smith: Oh.

Tina Weymouth: She was making sure…

Chris Frantz: They had this kind of… symbiotic relationship.

Tina Weymouth: They weren't leaking funds.

Chad Smith: Keeping an eye on the place.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: She was!

Chris Frantz: But she would always compliment me. We would be doing our soundcheck, and she'd say "When you play, it sounds like music."

© Joe Bosso

Chad Smith: See, that's the best! You know, not a jazz drummer, a more of a rock drummer, we're not known for our, you know…

Chris Frantz: Musicality.

Chad Smith: Or melodic sound, or whatever.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Chad Smith: Or, you know, rhythm or…

Tina Weymouth: But it has to be tonal.

Chad Smith: I think so, I think…

Tina Weymouth: There has to be that.

Chris Frantz: Karen Kristal had a reputation for being a tremendous curmudgeon. That's a good term for it.

Tina Weymouth: Well that's -

Chad Smith: Are you being nice?

Tina Weymouth: No, no, no, She was actually super-nice to us. She had this other reputation, but we never saw it.

Chad Smith: Never saw that side of her?

Tina Weymouth: Never saw it. She was just always absolutely delightful to us.

Chris Frantz: But if you could ask Johnny Ramone about her, he would -

Tina Weymouth: Oh, but Johnny, Johnny hated everybody.

Chris Frantz: She and Johnny butted heads.

Tina Weymouth: Johnny hated me until he realized I was a big Ramones fan. I mean, it took him forever to realize. I only did him so many favors, and he had no idea. He was, like, clueless about who were his friends, and one day, he got hit on the head by another curmudgeon. He got hit on the head with a pipe and was sent to the hospital, which was horrible - with a coma. And he came out of it with a cracked skull and had to shave all his beautiful hair off.

Chad Smith: Was it at a gig, at a show?

Chris Frantz: No, it was on the street in New York.

Tina Weymouth: No, it was one of those punk things. And he, I remember, we were going down Sixth Avenue, and somebody was saying, "Hey, Chris and Tina!" and it was Johnny running after me and Chris, saying, "Hey!" And he grabbed us, so I thought, "Oh, OK, here it comes. He's gonna slug me now." [Laughs]

Chad Smith: "How come you hate me so much?"

Tina Weymouth: No, I was never afraid of him, but Tommy Ramone used to be really afraid that I was going to get it, because I was a girl and everything. But I always stood up to him, but I liked him. I was on his side. And so he said, "Chris and Tina, I understand you like me!" And I said, "Yes, of course. We've always loved the Ramones!"

Chad Smith: "I understand!"

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, and it was like, "Wow, eureka! You're on my side. You're not the enemy." And from then on, we were buddies.

Chad Smith: Yeah, we're bros. You like me, OK. We're good now.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah. "You like the Ramones. You love the Ramones?" Yeah, of course!

Chad Smith: Did you guys play with them or not?

Tina Weymouth: Oh, all the time.

Chris Frantz: Our first show ever was opening for the Ramones at CBGBs. Our first tour ever, the first tour we ever did was a tour of Europe and the UK supporting the Ramones in 1977.

Chad Smith: Did you guys… I'm sure you…

Tina Weymouth: We shared a bus. We shared everything!

Chris Frantz: We shared a bus, but it wasn't a tour bus with bunks in it. It was like a tourist bus with seats. So we'd have to drive, get up really early in the morning and drive long distances a lot of times. And all the equipment went in a separate truck. But we stayed in the same hotels, and… you know. Our career - Talking Heads and the Ramones - our careers are somehow forever intermingled, even though we're kind of like opposites.

Chad Smith: Yeah, musically, you know…

Chris Frantz: We're the yin and yang.

Tina Weymouth: They thought we were such "artsy-fartsy" people because our idea… [Chad laughs]

Chad Smith: He's like Republican and loves baseball…

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Chad Smith: Nazi memorabilia.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: But we got along really great with everybody.

Chad Smith: You guys are, like, art school.

Tina Weymouth: Dee Dee was very artistic and he had so many ideas, and we'd walk all around Amsterdam with Dee Dee and talk music and ideas and what was good to do, and we'd go to clubs together… The thing that Johnny didn't like was when we'd go to museums. "Oh, they're so artsy-fartsy. They like to go look at art." You know?

Chad Smith: Oh, so he thought you were too, you know…

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, but he didn't understand that that sort of refreshed our pallet and gave us more ideas for our music.

Chris Frantz: But the great story of that tour is - I mean there are many great stories from that tour - but perhaps the greatest was, our tour manager was a great British tour manager. Mickey Stewart was his name.

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Chris Frantz: He had taken the job because nobody else would take it.

Chad Smith: [Laughs] Nobody else wanted it!

Chris Frantz: He took us around all over Europe and he knew every pub, every great restaurant, every great truck stop - he knew them. All the best hotels for bands to stay, all of that.

Chad Smith: Mmm.

Chris Frantz: So he said, "Look, we're gonna be going by Stonehenge today. We've got the day off, what do you say we have a look at Stonehenge? Wouldn't you guys love to do that?" And Johnny said, "No. No fuckin' way." [Laughs] "It's just a bunch of old rocks." And Dee Dee stood up and said, "No, Johnny, I wanna see Stonehenge!" [Chad laughs] And all of us in the Talking Heads said, "Yeah, we wanna see Stonehenge. Hell yeah!" And so we stopped at Stonehenge, and this was in the days there was no fence up yet - you could go up and touch the rocks, the stones. We all did that, and Johnny stayed on the bus.

Chad Smith: Staying on the bus, sticking to it.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Chad Smith: Not going.

Chris Frantz: Yeah, it was hilarious.

Chad Smith: Well, he needs a man who seemed to… You guys know him much better than me.

Chris Frantz: You know, bless his heart, but he was mean as a snake. [Laughs]

Chad Smith: And he really ruled that band with an iron fist, right?

Chris Frantz: Yeah, but our manager -

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, but he made it work, but it also killed them.

© Joe Bosso

Chris Frantz: Our manager said that thanks to Johnny's, you know…

Tina Weymouth: Business sense.

Chris Frantz: Business sense, all of the Ramones ended up millionaires, even though they never had one single hit record, which is saying something.

Chad Smith: Mmm.

Chris Frantz: I mean, I completely disagree with a lot of the way Johnny handled people, but as far as the band goes, he probably had the right idea.

Chad Smith: It worked.

Tina Weymouth: No, there was a lot about Johnny that…

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: Like when they got their first gold record, Johnny swung by the office to pick it up on his bicycle, and he strapped it to his back with bungee cord.

Chris Frantz: [Laughs] Yeah.

Chad Smith: That's great.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, it's classic, but Johnny -

Chris Frantz: He used to carry his guitar in a shopping bag on the subway.

Tina Weymouth: Johnny drove the rest of the band crazy, because everyone had to sit in the same seat, and it would drive him nuts - he had OCD or something - it would drive him nuts if any of us sat in a different seat on the bus.

Chad Smith: "Something's wrong here!"

Tina Weymouth: [Laughs] Yeah.

Chad Smith: "Something's not right!"

Tina Weymouth: But he would always sit in the front seat next to Monty, who was driving, and he would control the radio, and it was always tuned to a baseball game, and that drove Dee Dee crazy, because Dee Dee was very musical. Dee Dee wrote all their songs. A lot of people don't know that. Joey wrote a couple of great tunes, but Dee Dee was prolific. He wrote, like, a song per day. Even when he wasn't in the group, he wrote all the songs.

Chad Smith: Really?

Tina Weymouth: Yeah. He continued to write for them. So all of that, Dee Dee was, he's made out to be like this real, well, we always called him "The Noble Savage," because he was that. He was free of a lot of the paraphernalia you get while growing up, that's thrown at you in a middle-class environment. He grew up on an army base in Germany with very little guidance. So I think what it turned out is, he had bipolar disorder that went untreated.

His first wife, Vera, did a very great job of getting him on meds, and that was a very good beginning for him of understanding that he had to go with this program, because he was chemically unbalanced. But he was reallybrilliant - genius. He married her early in the '70s, after his girlfriend, Connie. Connie was another trip. She stabbed him in the ass the day before we went to Europe. It was a fight over heroin. So he was -

Chad Smith: Don't make people stab one -

Tina Weymouth: It goes on and on. These stories go on and on and on. But they were a great band, and every one of them was fantastic, and thank goodness Tommy Ramone is still there to tell the tale.

Chad Smith: Yeah…

Tina: And Marky.

Chris Frantz: Did you ever notice Tommy's drumming style?

Chad Smith: It's so... We did, when Johnny was sick, we did a charity show in Hollywood at The Palace about a few months before he died. Johnny was too sick to come. Rob Zombie put it on.

Chris Frantz: Oh yeah.

Chad Smith: A lot of groups played. Marky was there - I don't think Marky played, though. But so our guitar player at the time, John Frusciante, was really good friends with Johnny.

Chris Frantz: Mmm.

Chad Smith: They were pals.

Chris Frantz: Right, right.

Chad Smith: And so it was very upsetting when Johnny was dying, all slow, cancer.

Tina Weymouth: It's so stupid.

Chad Smith: Horrible.

Tina Weymouth: It's so stupid. Hey, you know what? You gotta sit down to pee.

Chad Smith: What's that?

Tina Weymouth: It's, it's -

Chad Smith: You gotta sit down to pee? [Laughs]

Tina Weymouth: Yeah. Men, you just have to get those toilets with the really large oval -

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: So that it's comfortable.

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: But standing up puts such a strain on the crossbone.

Chris Frantz: That's so weird to me, because you'd think that man was sort of built to stand up to pee. [Chad laughs]

Tina Weymouth: Well, he certainly is.

Chris Frantz: It's one of God's mistakes. [They laugh]

Chad Smith: We're now cursed.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: The human tripod.

Tina Weymouth: But hey, nature also invented death.

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: To, you know, get rid of the old stuff.

Chad Smith: Get rid of the old stuff.

Tina Weymouth: So the new stuff could come in, the new growth could come in. No but, seriously, if you want to protect yourself, I mean, this is just -

Chad Smith: I like this.

Tina Weymouth: Dr. Tina!

Chad Smith: Dr. Tina!

Tina Weymouth: Dr. Tina.

Chad Smith: "Gentlemen, sit down when you pee."

Tina Weymouth: "Tina says it's best."

Chad Smith: Except when you're in a public place -

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: The urinals are on the wall -

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: Then it might be a little difficult.

© Joe Bosso

Tina Weymouth: Don't, no.

Chad Smith: Bring your own toilet seat - you might have to pee.

Chris Frantz: Well, you know, in Italy, they have these bathroom fixtures where you have to sit down for everything. [Laughs. The waiter comes over, they order.]

We had some gnocchi recently in Bologna.

Chad Smith: Mmmm.

Chris Frantz: Oh, boy, so good.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: It's in Europe in general, like, strawberries and tomatoes, they taste -

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: Well, you have a good -

Chad Smith: The butter, the bread!

Tina Weymouth: You have a good metabolism, man. I mean, I remember you were a skinny kid.

Chad Smith: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Chris Frantz: Well, you still are very fit.

Tina Weymouth: And you're still -

Chad Smith: I'm fit, but I'm, you know.

Tina Weymouth: You're still slender.

Chad Smith: But you know, drumming and just staying active in general -

Tina Weymouth: I think it's partially anatomy.

Chad Smith: It's a bit of genes, I admit.

Chris Frantz: Do you play drums every day or like anything like that? I don't.

Chad Smith: I don't. I mean, when we're on tour.

Chris Frantz: On tour, every day, yeah.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: That's enough, like, four times a week.

Tina Weymouth: That's enough, yeah. I mean, you haven't had to have operations like Max Weinberg or something. When we met him in 1987, he already had five operations in his hand.

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: From playing those four hour shows with Bruce Springsteen.

Chris Frantz: Remember that guy Jack Irons?

Chad Smith: Yeah, he was the drummer before me.

Chris Frantz: Yeah, I saw him with Pearl Jam.

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Chris Frantz: After the show, he would have his hands in ice.

Tina Weymouth: Well, you had to do that for a while -

Chris Frantz: Well…

Tina Weymouth: When we had to do those two-and-a-half hour shows.

Chris Frantz: Yeah, I got some tendonitis one time. But he was in agony.

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah. Did you have to wear a baseball glove or anything?

Chad Smith: No, my hands aren't too battered right now, because I haven't been playing a lot.

Tina Weymouth: You have good hands.

Chad Smith: Can you read my palm?

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: Really?

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chris Frantz: She can.

Chad Smith: Really?! Tina does everything.

Tina Weymouth: No, no.

Chad Smith: Doctor…

Tina Weymouth: No, there's a lot -

Chad Smith: "Sit down when you pee… "

Tina Weymouth: There's a lot I don't do.

Chris Frantz: Doctor…

Chad Smith: You can read my palm...

Chris Frantz: Psychic.

Chad Smith: Psychic!

Tina Weymouth: You have to remember, my mother was learning to be a doctor when World War II crushed that dream, and she married my father and had eight kids. Let's see, six of them are girls, and so many of them…

Chris Frantz: Kind of like the opposite of your family.

Tina Weymouth: Registered nurse, they're all in healing arts.

Chad Smith: Oh.

Tina Weymouth: All of them.

Chad Smith: Wow.

Tina Weymouth: And they have this natural ability. My mother had this kind of natural psychic ability that she got from her grandmother, and she could diagnose things. She could know what people had.

Chad Smith: Wow.

Tina Weymouth: And that's a gift.

Chad Smith: That's a gift - that's amazing.

Tina Weymouth: Yes, it's a gift. So we all have it a little bit, you know?

Chad Smith: Good thing.

Tina Weymouth: It's a good thing.

Chad Smith: It's a good thing!

Tina Weymouth: Chris has it, too. That's the good thing about him and me is that he can deal with my craziness because he has that psychic ability.

Chad Smith: He understands it. [Laughs]

Tina Weymouth: He can deal with it.

Chad Smith: How long have you been married?

Tina Weymouth: Thirty-six years.

Chad Smith: Whooo.

© Joe Bosso

Tina Weymouth: But we've been friends for 41.

Chris Frantz: I think it -

Chad Smith: Met in school…

Tina Weymouth: Or 42.

Chad Smith: Went through school…

Chris Frantz: Uh-huh.

Chad Smith: And then -

Tina Weymouth: We were friends for five years before we got married.

Chris Frantz: We met the sophomore year of school.

Chad Smith: [Gets a phone call.] I gotta… I'm sorry, it's him calling. [Takes a phone call.] Sixteen, man.

Tina Weymouth: That is such a great age. Scary as all get-out, but once you get it, it's so great, too.

Chad Smith: Plays the trombone.

Tina Weymouth: So where does he live?

Chad Smith: He lives in Naples, Florida.

Tina Weymouth: OK.

Chris Frantz: Na-pole-eeeee

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Chris Frantz: Flor-eeee-daaaa.

Chad Smith: Yes, Flor-eeee-daaaa.

Tina Weymouth: Flor-eeee-daaaa.

Chad Smith: He's over there on the Gulf side.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, it's nice there.

Chad Smith: Yeah. They moved -

Tina Weymouth: Well, we got scared when our younger son was 16, because he was -

Chad Smith: How did you -

Tina Weymouth: He went through two punk bands that were really excellent.

Chad Smith: Yeah?

Tina Weymouth: But now he's a visual artist, which is great, but he left music. He was such a good musician - drummer, too.

Chad Smith: Was he a drummer?

Tina Weymouth: He was a drummer.

Chris Frantz: Drummer and lead singer.

Tina Weymouth: He could play keys.

Chris Frantz: He did both.

Tina Weymouth: Keyboards, too.

Chris Frantz: One band he was a lead singer, the other band he was a drummer.

Chad Smith: Wow.

Tina Weymouth: And he -

Chris Frantz: He's a good drummer.

Tina Weymouth: Exactly.

Chris Frantz: Better than me.

Tina Weymouth: He was really, really good.

Chad Smith: I mean, why do you, why do you think, why -

Chris Frantz: I think he saw the writing on the wall that said, he might as well do something else these days.

Tina Weymouth: I'm so glad, though, because the kids that he was -

Chris Frantz: One reason is that his brother, our other son, totally focused on music.

Chad Smith: Mmm.

Chris Frantz: And I think he didn't want to compete with him.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, they always -

Chad Smith: So he's younger?

Chris Frantz: He's the younger brother, and he's extremely musical, but he's also very visual, so he's doing really well - just had a show in Milan, just had a show in Basel, Switzerland, just had a show in LA…

Chad Smith: Wow.

Chris Frantz: A few months ago, had a show in New York that just closed, but I mean, he's doing -

Chad Smith: He's doing well.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Chad Smith: Fantastic!

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: Good for you guys.

Tina Weymouth: And you know, it's kind of amazing because I always knew both kids had different talents, but both were musical and both were visual.

Chad Smith: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: And I really expected that our older son Robin was going to go visual all the way, and now he's the musical one. And that Egan, our younger son, was going to me the musical one, because he won, when he was eight years old, he entered a contest - I'm totally against contests and judging artists and all those things -

Chad Smith: Competition.

Tina Weymouth: No, it's not. Somebody always has to lose, and I hate that. So I said, "I don't really like this, I don't approve, because somebody's going to lose and be really hurt, and it could be you." And he said, "Well, I've already filled out the paperwork. All you have to do is sign it." [Chad laughs] So I said, "Oh, OK!" I didn't want to be a wet towel on that. So eight years old, and he wins the damn competition - not only for the state, for the school, the state and then nationally, for all elementary schools. Best composition and performance.

I didn't give him any help. I said, "You have to do this by yourself." Chris is the soft touch in our family; that made me be the real gorilla.

Chad Smith: [Laughs] We have the same dynamic in our family. She's the bad cop, and I'm fun dad.

Tina Weymouth: Somebody has to be the guy who gives you the reality check. So I just said, "All right, it's not fair, 'cause your parents have a recording studio over the garage; it's totally not fair. What you have to do is take this boom box cassette recorder, and you have to press the button, and do it that way."

Chad Smith: Figure it out. And he did.

Tina Weymouth: And he did it, and he won. And the kid who won nationally for all the schools was a high-school kid, 17 years old. So I said, "Hey, you didn't do too bad."

Chad Smith: He was almost twice as old.

Tina Weymouth: More than twice.

Chad Smith: That's amazing.

Tina Weymouth: But he did have that painful episode of the other kid in his class who's taking piano lessons, doing classical piano, who was totally injured and hurt because he didn't win anything. And yet -

Chad Smith: That's a young age for that sort of stuff.

Chris Frantz: Yeah, Egan wrote this song,

Tina Weymouth: It was -

Chris Frantz: The song he -

Tina Weymouth: It's called Egan's Blues!

Chad Smith: Egan's Blues?

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, like you're eight years old -

Chris Frantz: I'm like, "I didn't even know you were sad."

Chad Smith: Yeah, what do you have the blues about?

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: He's probably like, "It's just a name, Dad. It doesn't mean anything."

Tina Weymouth: Yeah. Well, the first song he wanted to learn was "Let's Spend The Night Together." I said, "Aren't you a little young for that kind of thing?" He said "I like to bring my dog into my bed." [They laugh]

Chad Smith: Good. That is good! Kids, they say the craziest things!

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, they do.

Chad Smith: They really do.

Tina Weymouth: They really do.

Chad Smith: They really do.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah.

Chad Smith: Oh God.

Tina Weymouth: Yeah, they -

Chad Smith: How did you guys… navigate that?

Tina Weymouth: Well -

Chad Smith: So hard.

Tina Weymouth: Well, we started having kids just when, that was the end of Talking Heads, and it was just so… It was kind of a disaster because I thought "Well, I couldn't have kids before," because that would ruin the band, so I waited and waited and waited. I did everything. I made all the sacrifices.

Chad Smith: And that -

Tina Weymouth: And then, as soon as I had my kids, David Byrne went "Goodbye!" So then we had to figure it out.

Chad Smith: Mmm.

Tina Weymouth: One of the things we did do was decide "You know what? Family and friends are… Life is very short, and family and friends are the most important thing you can have, and you shouldn't just think that it's all about your career."

Chad Smith: Ditch the rock band.

Tina Weymouth: Somehow, the career will take care of itself if you take care of your family and your friends.

Chad Smith: That's good. I like that.

Chris Frantz: Yeah.

Tina Weymouth: And that's pretty much been what's happened. So we're happy about that. There was a difficult period there where it's sandwiched, but we got it under control where we were… The young children, we're still supporting our kids to a great degree, and the older parents were so precious and so beautiful and you never want to lose them, and making sure they're OK.

Chad Smith: Mmm.

Tina Weymouth: That's a big deal. That'll never come again. Everything is to be savored. Once in a lifetime, it happens, and then it's gone. So, every time nothing was happening, instead of just driving ourselves crazy, we'd just say "OK, fuck it. Let's go to France."

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.