The Adverts, TV Smith's Cheap, TV Smith's Explorers, TV Smith
on 15th September 2017 at Dulcimer, Manchester, UK
In the recent trend for interviewing people in unexpected places I find myself interviewing TV Smith on the fire escape outside Dulcimer, the venue he’s due to play tonight that lies in the suburbs of South Manchester. Despite both of us arriving late to the venue TV Smith kindly takes the time to sit outside and discuss punk, touring and what the future holds for the iconic singer and songwriter. After last year’s interview in Preston was sadly lost we find ourselves halfway up the fire escape outside Dulcimer in an attempt to stop history repeating itself as the noise levels in the venue, and it’s smoking area, are every bit as loud as you’d expect on a Friday night in Manchester.
Thanks for taking time out to talk to The Punk Site and welcome to Manchester, when were you last here?
You hit me with a difficult one…. it does seem like a long time, it think it was the last time I was here at the Dulcimer, which was at least a year ago.
We caught you at the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool earlier this year, you seem to be an annual fixture there
I always have been, I’ve done every year since it started, we started off just doing The Adverts songs with the band. I’ve been touring with the Bored Teenagers a lot more in Europe and the Useless album seems to be popular over there, we played the whole useless album in Germany and then mixed it up for Rebellion.
We covered the set of your solo material at the Rebellion Festival
That was my favourite one I think, it’s good to do a set of the other songs as well.
Songs like My String Will Snap and Good Times Are Back seem to be more relevant than ever
That’s the terrible thing isn’t it, but I’m also writing a load of new stuff to keep moving it forward.
Does this mean we can expect a new album?
Whenever I get a chance between touring I’m recording the next album, I’m still out doing 130 gigs a year so the time I get to record is stretched over quite a long period in small sessions. I think I’ve got my best collection of songs ever for the next album, but I’m not going to rush it, it’s not like I’ve got a record company with a release schedule. I’m just doing it whenever I get a chance and when it’s ready I’ll put it out, I’m hoping it’ll be out in Spring next year.
There’s a big shift to the DIY movement at the moment, you’ve been doing this for a long time and seem to have laid some of the groundwork for this movement
I came back to DIY that’s the thing, The Adverts wasn’t that DIY as we were with proper labels, but after being out of the music business for a long period in the eighties and nineties I came back to my DIY roots. It was the only way forward, apart from the fact it’s very satisfying to do it all yourself, you’ve got assume you aren’t going to get any support from the music business so you have to do it yourself, and it’s a good and honest way to do it.
You’re still pulling crowds, the sets I saw at Rebellion were packed out
Yeah it’s great, Rebellion is full of all the people you see out in the little club shows throughout the year, it’s the moment they all come together in a dirty great big crowd and it’s a special occasion. I always think Rebellion is like the thank you for all the little club shows.
Are there more trips into Europe planned?
Yeah always, I’m on a sort of never ending tour, I’ll play a few dates round Britain and then go out to Germany for a few days, that’s the way my touring goes, it’s not one huge block of six weeks and then stay at home, I just constantly go out for a few days here and there.
Is your popularity in Germany enhanced by the link with Die Toten Hosen?
That was the link that started it off and where people first heard about me, they covered Gary Gilmore’s Eyes, well they covered a whole load of UK punk bands, that was an entry into Germany to play a few small shows and get used to the way it is there, and they really took to me in a way they weren’t taking to me in Britain at the time. I went over there a lot and built up a good audience out there, it’s probably my best country really.
Are you still working with Die Toten Hosen?
Little bits now and then, nothing to speak of really, I co-wrote a song on their last album and did some lyrics on one of their songs but I’m not at liberty to tell you which one! I co wrote Pushed Again on a previous album, they’d already registered the song but they realised they didn’t have any lyrics for it and they came to me as they decided they wanted English lyrics, I love the song so I wrote the lyrics with Campino the lead singer. As it was already registered I didn’t get my name on it but they made a present of recording the Useless album for me instead which was a fair deal.
I think the Useless album is the best introduction to your back catalogue
Yeah, over the years my stuff has been recorded in cheap studios and different studios and with different line ups, the idea behind it was to make a solid album with the best songs, with the same band in a good studio so it had a really consistent sound, it’s different to the way I usually work but it was nice thing to do.
As one of the people who was in at year zero of the punk scene how does t feel looking at it now
It’s an underground scene, I don’t really know what the punk scene is but for me it’s characterised by the live scene, it’s all about bands playing in small pubs and clubs to whoever they can find, the way people get together, the fact the audiences are similar and the feeling in the crowd. When I was a kid that was always what a gig was about, it was meeting your mates and that was a big part of it and I think that is happening again now, and when you go to something like Rebellion you see just how many of you there are, it’s not a bad little movement really.
Are there any bands at the moment from tours or festivals you’ve played that have caught your imagination?
I still see a lot of bands that I like, it’s a tough question off the top of my head because I see a lot of stuff out there, but in Edinburgh last night for example I was supported by Billy Liar who’s a great Scottish singer songwriter with really high energy, and before he played there was a duo called Paper Rifles who were also really great in the Scottish singer songwriter idiom and I’d never heard of them before, and that’s just one night out with two great bands on the same bill as me. I also love Harvey’s Rabbit who are playing tonight.
Can we expect any new material in the set tonight?
Yeah, I’m road testing the new songs on the tour, as I many as I can slip in without anyone minding! actually I’ve got to say the new songs are being received just as well, if not better, than the old ones which is good to know.
Thanks for taking time out to talk to The Punk Site
The Punk Site review of TV Smith live at the Dulcimer can be read here
TV Smith‘s website can be found here and his online store is here
TV Smith‘s Bandcamp can be found here
Photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here
You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images