In the Studio

Source: Rolling Stone, 5/28/92

by D. Fricke

``There's certainly no pressure from inside the band,'' says guitarist Richard Lloyd of the legendary - and recently re-formed - New York band Television, discussing the high level of anticipation for the group's forthcoming album on Capitol. ``There's more pressure from our friends. They keep going: `Man, I can't wait to hear it. What's it sound like?' I don't know what to say.

``I don't think words are capable of describing music, in any sense that will convey what it's about,'' says Lloyd. ``If you were going to describe R.E.M.'s `Losing My Religion' or Nirvana's `Smells Like Teen Spirit' or U2's `Mysterious Ways,' what would you say? `Oh, it's swirly or grungy or pristine.'

``Well, we've got all of that,'' Lloyd says of the as-yet-untitled Television album, currently in production in New York and due for release in late summer. ``It's swirly, grungy and pristine. And it's driving.''

That also captures, albeit in shorthand, the enduring sonic glory of Television's 1977 debut album, Marquee Moon, universally celebrated as one of the best LPs of the modern rock era. That album, along with the group's classic '76 indie single ``Little Johnny Jewel,'' encoded Television's style of serpentine twin-guitar interplay and the Dylanesque punk-poet aesthetic of the group's de facto leader, singer-songwriter-guitarist Tom Verlaine. Then in 1978, Television broke up, leaving behind a second LP, Adventure, and much unfulfilled promise.

Lloyd says he and Verlaine first talked of reuniting about three years ago. After taking care of respective solo commitments, they resumed discussion in October 1990 and with bassist Fred Smith and drummer Billy Ficca started jamming seriously the following December.

``We knew from playing together the first six years what we were capable of,'' says Lloyd. ``It was just a matter of seeing if it could jell, if it would have electricity.''

``A lot of the material on the new album came out of those jams,'' says Smith. ``We recorded all those jams. Someone would play something, and that would trigger a response. We were able to turn some of those ideas into songs.''

Rest assured that the revitalized Television is not tampering with its trademark sound. The twenty-five guitars Verlaine and Lloyd have amassed in the studio include the old Fender models that they originally played on Marquee Moon and Adventure. ``Tom plays pretty good keyboards, actually,'' says Lloyd, ``but I don't know if there'll be any on the record. Some of the songs,'' he adds, smiling, ``sound pretty full already.''