Bath based post punk outfit, Television Villain are rapturously exciting. Fronted by Dan Stothard who flails around the stage like an electric eel made of pipe cleaners, fizzing with energy. The band offer biting riffs and throbbing, broody basslines. At once flashing from emotionally wrought songs such as Neon Signs, to raw, searing Rats and Voyeur. GIGsoup’s Jessica Otterwell caught up with the band, to discuss their debut album, their unusual band name and The Wombles.
Television Villain are:
Dan Stothard – Vocals
Tim Burden – Guitars
Tom Sworn – Bass
Jack Daffin – Drums
Television Villain is a really unusual band name, how did that come into being
Dan: Well someone may or may not of been having a smoke watching batman the animated series, and you know when your brain melts and you have the intellect of a five year old, this person had just reached that lovely moment as the joker came on screen, he started laughing and said to himself he’s such a comic book villain… but wait he’s on the t.v. and so the name was born
Tim: Dan came up with it. We thought “niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.” The name stuck.
Jack: perhaps, it came from Dan’s creative little mind. Why have a name that nobody heard when instead you can have a name that when searched on google brings up results for Gus Fring, The joker, and Moriarty.
Dan: So either way the joker plays a big role, what a stand out citizen he is…
You’ve just released your self-titled album, what song would you say most represents your sound and why?
Tom: Betterman is a really good song to sum us up all round. It’s a quick, catchy and raw.
Dan: I think Neon Signs, it’s catchy and has a lot of emotion within it.
Tim: I think Smokey Rooms most represents our sound because of the different moods contained within the song. It starts off quite sparse and evolves with multi layers appearing and leads towards a cathartic climax. Incidentally Cathartic Climax was my suggestion for band name.
Jack: We as a band have a ever-evolving sound, so to choose a song that represents us is a tricky one. Once you hear our next record it will be clear to see that you can’t put us in any specific boxes. But if I have to pick, I think that Neon Signs displays a more melodic focus in terms of song writing, and that is an avenue we are exploring.
The album artwork is really striking. Who decides what your aesthetic should be?
Dan: I did the art and Tim designed the booklet layout.
Tim: Dan created the album artwork, he likes women and smoking so he put the two on the cover together. As far as our aesthetic goes we just get up at 5am and spend four hours doing each others hair and nails like any other folk would, Tom’s beard doesn’t groom itself you know. We have a little comb for it. We call it Gerald.
Jack: None of us have an overall swing on where we are going art-wise. The first EP we made, the art was designed by Tim, our guitarist. For the album we have just put out, Dan, our singer, designed the art which was then refined a little over time, and the next records art and aesthetic has been designed by Jack, the drummer. The aesthetic is also driven by the type of music we are writing at the time.
Tell us an interesting fact that we might not know about Television Villain
Tom: The bass and drums from our new album were recorded in Peter Gabriel’s studio Real World. Fancy ey?
Dan: Tom before becoming our bassist had to wear a TV box on his head and make a fool of himself On stage, it was a secret initiation, he looks rather good in a box head I’ll have you know!
Tim: At our EP launch many years ago we planned to have a guy with a TV on his head throw condoms at the audience and also give out alcoholic TV shaped sweets. Neither of these things happened.
Jack: All the work we have done so far, from production to recording and art, has been completely in-house, and we are pretty proud of the fact we have managed to make a record and release it using only the skills we collectively have.
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What inspires the creative process?
Tom: Jack and Dan in Jack’s studio smoking cigs
Dan: Which is bad for the lungs but good for the soul
Tim: The creative process is inspired by the mood, what we’ve been listening to at the time and sometimes just bouncing ideas off of what each other are playing. Some of the best songs come from impulsive jams that then end up being smoothed out and made into a structured and refined song.
Jack: Sometimes, it’s an artist’s new music that we have heard and felt inspired, sometimes it’s inebriation (or other states) and sometimes it’s just one of those days where it clicks and just happens
What song are you most proud of on your album?
Tom: I’m super proud of the whole album but I’ve always loved Neon Signs. It came out really nicely.
Dan: I’m the same, it’s really nice to have a project completed in front of us which people seem to have genuinely liked, they all feel like my baby
Tim: My favourite track of ours is Adored. It’s fun to play live as we tend to improvise during the middle breakdown section and the melodies really stick in your mind. The recording of it on the album really captures the raw emotion and power behind the song the way we would play it live.
Jack: I’m personally really happy with how Rats and Neon Signs came out. There was a point in time where I didn’t quite know how to work on Rats, so the fact that it’s now my personal favourite is nice
Which other bands and artists have influenced Television Villain?
Dan: So much, Joy Division, The Replacements and Nirvana are big ones musically for me, lyrically I really adore reading so I just get little nuggets of an idea from a lot of sources.
Tim: For Television Villain I tend to take more of an influence from artists who use the guitar as a way to build texture and create catchy tunes rather than shredding solos. Bands like The Sound and The Chameleons instantly come to mind, two bands that are more unheard of in our day and age.
For our overall sound bands from the Punk/Post-Punk scene of the 70’s/80’s such as The Replacements, Joy Division, Ramones, and more recent bands including The Horrors, Iceage and Savages play a big part.
Jack: We pull from many bands and many styles of music, but mainly at the moment we are focusing on more aggressive styles, and incorporating synths into our music
If you had to choose a band to tour with, who would it be and why?
Tom: It would be the weirdest show ever but I’m sure the whole band would love to play with Flight of the Conchords
Dan: Oh man, i discovered this great Australian band the other day who I would kill to tour with, they’re called Camp Cope there music is beautiful and tackles really great subject matter.
Tim: For me it would be the Australian Psychedelic Rock band Pond, pretty much for no other reason than they seem like an incredibly fun group of Aussies. Their music is lively and full of energy and mayhem and it seems like this is just a projection of their personality so I imagine it would be a riot. Also one of them looks like Bob Ross on acid so there would be some good selfies flying about.
Jack: The wombles
Dan: I think the only logical conclusion after that is we move to Australia
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What’s the best gig you’ve played to date?
Tom: Our album launch in the pig and fiddle was amazing. We played with some great bands and the turnout was amazing
Dan: Same, i managed to walk on the crowds hands and everyone seemed to be into it, was a really beautiful night. Also the support were incredible, you should all check out Raised by Hounds and Gyno.
Tim: We’ve had so many energised gigs at The Nest in Bath, it’s a bit of a local for us. Dan’s birthday in particular was a good one. I’m pretty sure Dan got moderately naked at that one too; it’s kind of a tradition he takes off most of his clothes onstage on his birthday.
Jack: I think that our album launch show was one of the best we have done. It was packed out and the energy was just amazing in the room!
What’s coming up for Television Villain in the next six months?
Tom: A tour is in the works and some more new tunes to be recorded.
Dan: We have a little plan in the works which we’re currently aiming towards, mysterious right?
Tim: We’re going to keep gigging to promote our music with many dates to come in July to act as a tour. We’re also recording demos for loads of new songs with a good 12 songs already in the pipeline, so hopefully new music will but out in the next six months.
Jack: We are currently in the writing phase of our next project, and our second album as well! We ought to be making a music video soon for one or two of our songs
Television Villain’s debut self-titled album is available to purchase from Bandcamp and streaming on Spotify.