|Our meeting did not get off to a very auspicious start when the tape machine started grumbling and refused to record, and the T.V.P.'s said (apparently
in all seriousness) that if we misquoted them, we would be hearing from their solicitors. This kind of attitude prevailed throughout, with them quite prepared to take the
piss, but any irony on our part being taken as an insubordinate insult.
Two years ago 'Nicholas Parsons' (I'm not sure what his real name is) released "Part Time Punks" which was pretty well a solo single; he had a friend in to play drums and sing, but the T.V. Personalities were at that time no more than his own pseudonym. The record has sold 13,000 copies to date, and for the past year Parsons has lived off the proceeds, although he says that at first the money simply meant that he could go out and buy himself lots of ice creams. Edward, who helped him in the early days has since left, lured away by the promise of fame and fortune in the "Teenage Filmstars" who are signed to a 'proper' record label. The T.V.P.'s release their stuff through Rough Trade, an arrangement which they find entirely satisfactory, for the flexibility that it allows them has up to now gone well with the loose structure of the band. It remains to be seen what will happen as the band becomes a serious full-time occupation, but they cannot accept some bands' criticism of the label, and say that if they want publicity and large advances, they should go to a major company where they will also find restrictions and pressures.
After two years of the T.V.P.'s basically being Parsons' personal brainchild, they are now a proper band with the full-time addition of bassist Joe from Hendon (perhaps Russell
Harty is more flattering), and drummer Empire, who is prepared to devote all his energies to the administrative side. Joe and Parsons were in the same form at school (although
the former looks quite a lot older) and have played together on and off ever since. They see the T.V.P.'s in their present form as carrying to an extreme the idea of the
imaginary school band where people rehearse together occasionally and fancifully call themselves a band. They have as yet played very few gigs but nonetheless lay stress on
their stage show which is put together by one Vic Visual. There are slides which are mostly of beautiful women and themselves, and self-made films which range from an Arthur
Brown-esque surrealistic horror thingy, to the last film record of Joy Divison in concert - filmed in some German beer cellar. Apart from being a rather morbidly fascinating
document, this film also reminds one of how dry the T.V.P.'s stage presentation is. They make little effort to provide visual interest themselves, and let the songs stand on
their own - which luckily they do.|
In a recent review of their latest single "King and Country" / "Smashing Time" (which is indeed pretty... smashing) one critic accused them of 'self-conscious naivety'. Their songs are humourous and slightly cynical rather than this, and they spring to their defence saying "We are the least naive people in the world." Parsons' old songs tended to be happy, but now he says that they are much sadder than before because he tends to get depressed more easily. He is quietly friendly, wears mirrored sunglasses on stage (to hide the tears?) and is bored of playing "Part Time Punks." Joe from Hendon who sacrificed a brilliant career in advertising and was a Mod when they looked even more stupid than they do now, used apparently to be sad and is now happy. The fruits of his joy can be appreciated on his own solo-ish single which goes under the name of the "Missing Scientists." You too could be happy if you buy it.
Over the next few months, the T.V.P.'s should emerge properly as a band, as they play more together and make a record (hopefully with Joe singing) from their wealth of material, which is not simply a Parsons solo effort. The amiable Empire, who was in things like "Black Lassie Goes West", will break in his new Gretsch (sue me if I'm wrong) drum kit and with the success which should rightfully come their way, they will attract the constant attentions of proper rock journalists who will write articles on them which are less belittling than this one has been. In the meantime, you too can thrill to the fab sound of "King and Country", only 90p from Rough Trades anywhere.
|Click on image to view larger pic.|
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|Thanks to Mark Flunder for providing the source material.|