T.V.B.C in 2011: Freddy Votel, Adam Linz, Paul Metzger
There are really just two types of music people in the Twin Cities.
There are those that undyingly love the band T.V.B.C. completely with every essence and fiber of their soul after first hearing the band sometime since they started back in 1985. Then there are those that are probably asking right now: "Who the fuck are T.V.B.C.?"
In any case, as purveyors of what could probably be classified as spaz-punk Eastern-melodicism with tribal art-rock urgency, the band that called itself "Television Before Christ," T.V.B.C., are reuniting this week at the Loring Theater in Minneapolis -- and I for one am freaking ecstatic about it.
The band represents for many the linkage between the punk days of yore and what's going on now with more experimental acts and the free jazz scene that maintains a steadfast presence in town with the psychedelic sounds coming from the likes of Leisure Birds, Daughters of the Sun or the cacophonous and unrelenting rhythms of Marijuana Deathsquads and Skoal Kodiak, both of which T.V.B.C. drummer Freddy Votel is a member.
It seems fitting then that the band would decide to reignite their ubiquity for the first time since their appearance at the Heliotrope Festival in 2003, if even just for one show. This time they've added to their succession of bass players, enlisting upright bassist go-to guy, Adam Linz, known to most as the power behind Fat Kid Wednesdays and Curlew, among many others.
In between rehearsals and their own other projects I had a chance to do a little back and forth with founding member and guitarist Paul Metzger, who has excelled in his own work with a great number of solo releases on various instruments, and Votel, who is more than a little enthusiastic about the reunion.
But before you dig in you'd best be advised to comb through the band's catalog, all available on the band's website: tvbc.tv.
Gimme Noise: Can you give a brief overview of the band and what was the initial inspiration for the band? Any big highlights from all the years?
Paul Metzger: The combo began with Marshall Metzger on drums, Pat Dziewecynski on bass and Paul Metzger on guitar/vocal 30 years ago or so.
Freddy Votel: Marshall went overseas and they ended up with me. I was supposed to be "cheap summer help" as I recall. But when Marshall got back, he decided to let the band roll forward as it had been for the last many months. So I stayed.
Last time we played, as I recall, was doing a CD release of the previous year's recording of Man with a Movie Camera. We sold one [no lie]. So it was worth it.
Past highlights for me include warming up for PiL, Wire, the Fall .. Snakefinger [go and playing the walker in 1988. Steve McClellan. Seriously, to my mind, without Steve, this band may have actually broken up by the time the '90s rolled around. Oh, and Steve Albini hated us. So those things right there pretty much made me never want to stop. Which we technically haven't. In fact this isn't a reunion. It's more of an autonomous collective gone haywire. Wait, what was the question again?
What inspired the reunion for this show?
Paul Metzger: I played an impromptu duo with Freddy a while back and we thought we would like to do it again. Erik of Thunderbolt Pagoda was arranging a show at the Loring Theater and kindly invited us. It's a beautiful room.
Freddy Votel: Sweet cashish! We're getting more money for this one show than the Jesus Lizard got for their whole tour in 2009. Paul and I had talked about doing a show as a 2 piece which is honestly how he and i started playing together back in 1983. When he mentioned that Adam Linz might be interested in doing it too, for serial, that idea was immediately scrapped in my mind. Adam, seriously, is one of my favorite bass players. Period. Personally, this is like the line up i've always dreamed of. and we all get along. what a concept!
How did Adam Linz become involved?
Paul Metzger: He agreed to play bass with me and Freddy. He is a fearless musician that can throw quite hard. I play with him whenever I can. Who wouldn't?
Metzger and Linz performing together at the Ghostband tape release show in January
As time has gone on there seems to be a growing acceptance for the type of music you do. While still sort of "underground" how do you see the "experimental" music scene these days in the Twin Cities and how do you think it differs from the past when the band first started?
Paul Metzger: I've never felt much of any connection to a music scene per se. I have an insular, hermetic thing going that works well for me. There are some kindred spirits out there and meeting them is always a good feeling. As for audience, their acceptance of music is beyond my control and interest. There will always be the few souls in every town that will leave their homes to experience live music that is a little bit outside. I am so grateful for that.
Metzger performing a solo set at the Loring Theater in February
Freddy Votel: As far as this band goes the '80s and '90s really, really sucked here. I can't stress that enough. The music scene in town now decimates the '80s fantasy that that was the heyday. When I go back and listen to pretty much all the stuff I liked locally then, the only things that have held up for me are Prince, the Time, Boy Elroy, 2i, Second Language, and Cows. In fact, for me in hindsight, Cows were easily the best and most original local rock band in the '80s. Granted when I started playing with them in the '90s things really did take a down turn. I blame myself.
On the other hand, bands got payed waaaaay better back then. Now there's venues that have popped up that pay local bands nothing. They try to act like they're supporting 'the scene.' It's a load of bullshit people. Do not believe the 'lewd ruse'* [* copyright, Chris Rose - Vampire Hands]. My new years resolution was to be very vocal about this. I think so far i'm doing a pretty good job of it. Going to LA to clear my head with Marijuana Deathsquads helped too. It's like some passive-aggressive pay to play type mentality has permeated the local music scene in the last 5 years. I think lots of younger musicians are rolling with it, because they're young and they don't know any better yet. But a lot of these folks are totally getting financially screwed and i'm sick of sitting idly by and watching it happen. It's popeye time, i can't stands no more!
T.V.B.C. in the 1980s: Pat Dziewecynski, Paul Metzger, Freddy Votel
Aside from being a reunion, do you have something special planned for this performance?
Paul Metzger: I am thinking of providing earplugs because it is quite loud.
Freddy Votel: For me, honestly, at the core of it, lose your ego and try to be supportive of the whole project and the big picture. Pretty much why as i get older i dislike singer songwriters more and more. It ain't all about you, dumb ass.
Seriously, look no further than Paul Westerberg's post-Let it Be output. Replacements were a great band before ego and hype took over. When that happened, they were artistically dead in the water. Bob Stinson RIP, Chris Mars, 75% less fat indeed. Who knew? Well, I certainly do now.
Any plans to reissue past releases? Will there be more T.V.B.C. performances or recordings coming down the pike?
Paul Metzger: Funny thing - past releases are still readily available because they never sold in the first place. We were never popular.
Freddy Votel: Hah, they're pretty much all still available for very little, free even if you're genuinely broke, tvbc.tv. We do have a recording with scott evans on bass that we recorded with Mike Wisti at Albatross some years back. Hopefully that will be released within the next year.
Can you promise to make the snow melt?
Freddy Votel: Yes, if we can't at least melt some minds at the show on the 31st, we'll take care of the snow. We have a long term pact with jeebus. At least until 2012. then it's his call.
T.V.B.C. with Thunderbolt Pagoda and Seawhores perform at the Loring Theater this Thursday, March 31. All Ages. 8 p.m. $13.