TV Smith Interview Sept 17

TV Smith

The Adverts, TV Smith's Cheap, TV Smith's Explorers, TV Smith

By on 15th September 2017 at Dulcimer, Manchester, UK



TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 6In 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.

TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 5We 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.

TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 4Does 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.

TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 3You’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.

TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 1Is 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.

TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 2I 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.

TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 7Are 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

TV Smith Interview 2 Sept 17The 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

TV Smith Dulcimer Flyer Sept 17

TV Smith / Harvey's Rabbit

Dulcimer, Manchester, UK

15th September 2017

Rating: 5/5



TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 6I’ve caught TV Smith many times over the years, notably at the Rebellion Festival where he is an annual fixture playing multiple sets, but it’s been a while since he appeared on my home turf, so when tonight’s show at the Dulcimer in the South of the city was announced our attendance was a given as TV Smith is one of the originals from the first wave of punk, and ever since he launched onto the scene with The Adverts back in 1976 he has ploughed a unique path. TV Smith arrives late to the show but still kindly spares 15 minutes to talk to The Punk Site and we discuss punk, touring and what the future holds for TV Smith, the interview will appear on The Punk Site shortly. Tonight’s show is in the intimate setting of upstairs at Dulcimer which is absolutely packed out for tonight’s show.
TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 Blazing SnowmenThroughout tonight’s show I bump into faces old and new, it’s always heartening that when I attend small provincial shows I always encounter people who I’ve met at festivals and shows over the years, showing that there is a dedication to the punk scene that goes beyond a superficial commitment, but onto tonight’s show. The Blazing Snowmen were a late addition to the bill, they are a trio that recall laidback strains of county and possess the spirit of The Pogues more melancholy compositions which is offset by a peculiarly Mancunian disposition. The double bass, and who doesn’t love a double bass, adds weight to their laid back style, this might be an unexpected addition to the bill but it’s one that’s strangely welcome. 
TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 Harveys RabbitHarvey’s Rabbit are second on the bill and they bring a different element to tonight’s show, their discordant and stripped down post punk set of indie influenced punk is something that recalls The Fall and The Chameleons, but it retains a distinctly unique perspective. Eighties indie influences clash with abrasive punk rock style that makes puts me in mind of the transatlantic cousins of the likes of The Thermals, driving punk is melded with an indie sensibility to create an impressive soundtrack, and the perfect act to precede the appearance of TV Smith. The Dulcimer seems ill equipped for tonight’s show, the tiny venue could have been filled twice over for tonight’s show by TV Smith, but for the cramped and intimate setting only adds to the atmosphere for tonight’s show.
TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 1Tonight’s stripped down acoustic show starts with an unreleased song that will presumably appear on his new album, and is preceded by a heartfelt “what the fuck is going in the world” that indicates that TV Smith has lost none of his anger towards the state of global politics, and this makes his new album something to look forward to in 2018. TV Smith remains an iconic figure in the punk world, just look at those reference his work as being influential, everyone from Henry Rollins to German stadium punks Die Toten Hosen, with whom he has co-written tracks on their albums, cite him as an influence, and you can see why, even in his stripped down acoustic sets the anger at the powers that be looms large, and this is no champagne socialism as you sense that the ire at social injustice is bone deep in TV Smith.
TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 2His set veers between his solo work and the classic The Adverts songs, but the line between these is indivisible as the social satire and fury is a trademark that had been an ever present for over forty years, and shows no sign of diminishing anytime soon. There’s something about TV Smith, whilst many of his contemporaries are playing money spinning reunion tours, that often fall somewhat flat, he is delivering earnest, heartfelt sets that are the bedrock of punk attitude. If you haven’t encountered TV Smith live then you should as the iconic singer is still playing 130 plus shows each year and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Tonight’s show at Dulcimer is as good a set as I’ve seen by him over the years, it spans the adverts early punk recordings, through his various incarnations over the years in a decades spanning set that defies the passing of the years.
TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 3The Lion And The Lamb, from 1992’s March Of The Giants, provides a more reflective moment in the set, and as ever he stamps out his own percussive beat to his songs on the stage. If you want to see the spirit of 76 it won’t be at an elaborately packaged reunion tour, it will be TV Smith playing to packed intimate venues on his own terms. New material is peppered throughout the set and unlike many of his peers this is equally well received as the material from the dawn of punk, and think seriously, how many bands can you say that about, the number is likely to be low or zero and that is what is magical about TV Smith, his solo material has lost none of the impact of his classic punk material, and that is a truly rare thing in an age of reunion tours and manufactured outrage
TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 4Of course The Adverts best known songs encourage a raucous singalong, but the songs from his forthcoming album indicate that the flame burns as strongly as it did over 40 years ago. My personal favourite One Day My String Will Snap is aired towards the end of this set, alongside new material and the inevitable encores from The Adverts back catalogue, that whilst are welcome they are not essential to his set and I doubt many of the artists from the first wave of punk can claim that. The density of the crowd at the Dulcimer means that TV Smith cannot leave the stage and has no option but to give in to their demands for a further encore, and we get Tomahawk Cruise and a spirited The Good Times Are Back before Runaway Train Driver ensures tonight’s show goes on way beyond curfew and is brought to a triumphant  finale to end a perfect set by one of punks true originals.
TV Smith Dulcimer Sept 17 5TV Smith‘s website can be found here and his online store is here 
TV Smith‘s Bandcamp can be found here
You can order the Harvey’s Rabbit back catalogue via Rotator Records here and Harvey’s Rabbit can be found on Facebook here
Dulcimer‘s website is here
Live 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