The Blood Harmonies of Televisionaries
After almost a decade of abrasive, reverb-soaked surf rock, Rochester's finest rock 'n' roll band Televisionaries now have listeners tapping their feet to their skinny tie, hook-laden power pop that's leaner, harder, and tighter than ever before. Ahead of their return to the Bug Jar on Friday for a show with Hi-Tide Recordings signees, The Surfrajettes, we caught up with TVs guitarist-vocalist Trevor Lake to discuss the band's transition to their latest album, Mad About You, touring Spain, and their upcoming pair of EPs.
After almost a decade of abrasive, reverb-soaked surf rock, Rochester's finest rock 'n' roll band Televisionaries now have listeners tapping their feet to their skinny tie, hook-laden power pop that's leaner, harder, and tighter than ever before. Now a supergroup quartet with the addition of longtime friend Aaron Mika, the TVs returned last spring with their latest album, Mad About You, a splash of airtight rhythms, jangly guitars, and vintage, singalong melodies that are remarkably fresh.
Recorded alongside Matt and Rocio Verta-Ray, Mad About You brims with confidence, evoking AM-friendly, sun-soaked guitar pop and a good tap of F-Beat-styled pub rock fused with the Lake brothers' immaculate blood harmonies. This is also the brothers' most collaborative release yet with each displaying their masterful, pop-rock songcraft; Trevor Lake on the snappy Rockpile-esque title track; Austin Lake on the hopeless romantic standout "Ultimatum"; and Brendan with the slingshot of jingle-jangle heartbreak on "Over and Out." Mika shows off behind the kit on the highly-charged backbeat of "Quarter After 8," showing why he's the scene's go-to drummer. The irresistibly catchy "Girls" will keep your head bouncing non-stop, while "Yesterday" is pure pop perfection in the style of Hard Days Night-era Beatles. The twangin' surf rock style isn't completely abandoned — the band shows it up on the rollicking instrumental "Curmudgeon" that runs with high fidelity. Whether it's the nervy three-chord garage punk of Danny's Favorites or the straight riff o' rama mania of Aweful Kanawful, the Lake brothers have been spearheading Rochester's underground music scene for some time now and have yet to miss a beat.
Ahead of their return to the Bug Jar on Friday for a show with Hi-Tide Recordings signees, The Surfrajettes, we caught up with TVs guitarist-vocalist Trevor Lake to discuss the band's transition to their latest album, Mad About You, touring Spain, and their upcoming pair of EPs.
Paperface Zine: Most of you were playing in hardcore bands around the time you formed Televisionaries in the early 2010s. How did the band start and what was the vision when forming?
Trevor Lake: For the first few releases, it was originally me, Austin, and our friend Taylor Guerin. At the time, I was getting into older music, particularly surf records from the '60s. I was also really digging into Man or Astro-man?, who play very fast and loud which is something I was aiming towards on those earlier records. Just this past summer, we actually played Hi-Tide's Summer Holiday Weekend Fest with them which was a blast.
PZ: Those earlier releases like 2015's Freezing to Death or the 2014 self-titled 12" leaned heavily on abrasive, reverb-soaked surf-rock instrumentals whereas your last couple releases have been all short, punchy rock 'n' roll songs with loads of hooks. What's been the progression like over the years with this band especially with the addition of Aaron Mika? Did he help shape the role of where you are now?
TL: I would say so. After the self-titled record, I started writing more songs with vocals and wanted a more traditional and cleaner sound. Then we added Brendan and his songs are more melodic and vocal driven so that was a big change. And really just combining all of our influences and relating the '60s music we already loved to a '70s power pop style.
PZ: Did the one-off tape with The Shine feel like a natural transition to what you're doing now with the TVs?
TL: Yeah The Shine was a really good jumping-off point. It was a different lineup, but we've been playing some of those songs live like "Give Us Some Credit."
PZ: For the last few years, you've toured with Bloodshot Bill and even released a split 7" together. How did that come about and what has it been like playing shows with him? He's sorta like the fifth TV!
TL: [laughing] Yeah he really is. So I first saw him live with Heavy Trash on Water Street in 2014 and I was immediately blown away. He's one of the most genuine and wild versions of what most rockabilly bands are trying to do nowadays. I remember giving him a solo demo tape of mine and I booked him at Monty's Krown where we and Harmonica Lewinski opened for him. He then took a shine to us and asked us to be his backing band for a couple shows in Canada which then that later turned into doing more shows together. I remember we were at his house and he goes, "Let’s write a four-track record where each of us write a song," which became the Spit on My Rubber EP.
PZ: We especially loved the music video to the title track from that record! We love Bloodshot Bill and it was awesome seeing you guys reunited at LUX last summer. So your latest album, Mad About You, was released through Nu-Tone Records (a division of Hi-Tide Recordings) back in April and it feels like a new era for you guys. Take me through the recording of it and how did you get connected with Matt and Rocio Verta-Ray?
TL: They're in the Lower East Side of Manhattan under an Insomnia Cookies. There's no signs outside the basement to point out that it's a recording studio. They saw us at a show with Bloodshot Bill and they told us that we should record with them. When it came time to do Mad About You, we recorded it all ourselves here in Rochester first, but it just didn't sound right, so I gave Matt and Rocio a call. It was a natural match and we became instant friends. They made the record sound much more concise and just overall better, especially since it was recorded completely in analog. Recording with them was a piece of cake.
PZ: This is most certainly your most collaborative release with you and your brothers bringing your own songs. With all of your guys' other recording projects such as Aweful Kanawful and Danny's Favorites, were there any crossovers when writing or composing songs?
TL: Me and my brothers write songs separately so there were some natural crossovers with all of us coming from our own projects. Brendan and I came from The Shine which was big on power pop and Austin of course coming from Aweful Kanawful which is more garage rock. Some of the tracks here could fit on any of our projects especially with the way we do things.
PZ: You guys have been touring Spain the last few years now and that's a country that definitely loves their rock 'n' roll and garage rock. What have your shows been like over there?
TL: We did two mini-tours already this year and we'll probably be back a couple times next year and onward. The crowds have always been fun and they receive us pretty good and understand exactly where we're coming from musically. I think people back here in America get us, but Spain certainly knows more.
PZ: Last summer, you played some shows with your heroes Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets. How did that come about?
TL: Opening for Nick Lowe was incredible. We got to meet him backstage and he's such a down-to-earth guy. We've opened before for The Los Straitjackets since we're all friends with their guitarist Greg Townson who lives here in Rochester. Their manager is also a fan of us so he threw us a bone.
PZ: So aside from some upcoming shows, what's next for the TVs?
TL: We got a three-track EP that will feature vocals from Les Greene of The Swayzees coming out through Hi-Tide. It will also feature a re-recording of the Shine track "Reconcile." We also recorded three songs for a release that'll come out through the Spanish label Sleazy Records. Both of those should be out sometime early next year.
PZ: That sounds great! Lastly, I got to ask this; if the TVs were in a slasher film, who would die first and why?
TL: I got to say Aaron. Somehow he'd put himself in a vulnerable situation. [laughing].
Televisionaries will play the Bug Jar alongside The Surfrajettes on Friday, November 11th.
Purchase advanced tickets here and stream Mad About You below.