Words by Jordan Scott.
“We just want to show people that we’re in it for real.”
New York quartet Public Access T.V. have grafted their way to a position where they’re tipped to be the next big thing, and there’s no question they have all the credentials to be exactly that. Their debut album ‘Never Enough’ received widespread acclaim, and was somewhat of an indie rock masterclass, a record that’ll undoubtedly be placed up with the best of its genre in years to come. They’ve supported some huge bands along the way, gigging all over the world and welcoming an ever-growing fan base. The band set off on their UK tour last week ahead of the release of their new album ‘Street Safari’ and arrived in Newcastle to deliver an incredible set at Jumpin’ Jacks.
I had the chance to chat with front man John Eatherly and bassist Max Peebles before they took to the stage, and talked their new album, touring, influences and plans for the future:
You’ve just started your UK tour, how does it feel to be out with new songs?
John: The most fun part is having new songs to play. I mean, we’ve been playing the old songs for so long…
Max: Yeah, it’s nice to come back with new material.
John: Were running into the problem now of not knowing exactly how to do the set list, although I think we figured it out last night.
Max: We figured it out last night yeah.
I’ve read that you’re used to doing 40 minute sets…
Max: Now its 45, man. (laughs)
John: We used to do 25 minute sets…
Max: Yeah like 25 to 30.
John: 45 minutes still feels long to me, it’s a good set. But we’ve never played for like an hour, but we could?
Max: We could! (laughs)
For those who don’t know, how did you come together as PATV?
Max: We were born in Jars.
John: Me and Max went to high school together, and moved to New York together in 2008, and I met Xan in 2010. I guess me and Max played music together the longest.
Max: Pete actually was made in a factory.
John: People don’t know too much about where Pete came from… his friends included.
You’ve toured with some huge bands (The Strokes, Weezer, Dinosaur JR.) and you yourselves have taken out bands like The Britany’s. How important are these experiences for bands?
John. I think if you’re a big band like that it’s also cool to take younger bands out that people don’t know too much about. It’s better to do that than take out some other shit people already know. But it depends, because sometimes the band is so massive with their fan base that, you’re pretty overlooked as the opener, but it’s a nice thing to do. It’s a real treat to do any of that stuff.
Did you learn anything playing with those bands?
Max: We learned how to be on time!
John: I mean, some of those big operations are so inspiring, cos’ you see how it can work on that scale, and how many people they have working with them, that’s awesome. we’d like to do that, it’s pretty amazing to see how it all works and how it all runs.
Your debut album is already viewed as a great of its genre. It reminded me of the feeling I got listening to album’s like ‘Youth And Young Manhood’ and ‘Hot Fuss’ for the first time. Does praise like that fill you with confidence going into Street Safari, or is it more pressuring?
John: To a certain extent, I think we’re a little bit out of touch. You know, people say things… like what you just said, I don’t know whether or not that’s true. I hope that it is true, but it’s weird. That’s not what we think when we go in and write a new record. Were not like “All right, our first record clearly was one of the greatest records.”
Max: Yeah, we don’t do that.
John: We didn’t give ourselves much of a break either, and didn’t give ourselves time to freak out too much about anything. I think the only pressure we put on is just on ourselves to do the best job that we can, it doesn’t have much to do with anyone else outside the circle.
The first two single’s you’ve released (Metrotech, Lost In The Game) are great. Firstly, what was the process writing Metrotech? The bassline…
John: It all came from the bassline. It’s one of those where you have to be in a really good mood to write I think, cos’ it came out of nowhere.
Both are unique songs, with Metrotech the first thing that hits you is that bassline, and Lost In The Game is the catchiest thing you could hear, but it’s not annoying catchy…
John: That’s good, It’s a fine line! Those songs I think are probably two of the most similar songs on the record. They’re also kind of about the same thing, and coincidentally came out one after another, and it’s kind of a retrospective of our more misbehaved lives.
Max: Yeah, a certain lifestyle.
John: But it’s meant to just be fun
Max: It’s fun, yeah. It’s not dark or anything.
John: Both songs are good in spirit.
When You’ve had an album like Never Enough that’s done so well, the easy thing to do could’ve been to go in and record the same album again if you know that’s a formula that works…
John: I think that’s what people get in the most trouble for, if they have a good thing and try to recreate it.
Max: It only worked really for The Ramones. We like a lot of things, a lot of different types of music, and we want to incorporate it into our band.
John: I think we actually wanted to simplify it a little bit on this record. Everything we talked about before writing it was really just a matter of having songs with a little more space in them. One of the things that the first record doesn’t have anything of is where the verse is much quieter than the chorus. Like, On Location is very loud and bratty the entire way through, and that can be hard to listen to unless you’re in that mood. I think that we kind of archived both on this record, and arrangement wise it’s a little less complicated.
Max: It’s proven, y’know.
That’s what’s exciting about the record, the sounds not a million miles away from ‘Never Enough’ but it’s something new, and some bands take a long time to do that…
John: I think it sounds like the same band but through a slightly different filter.
You recorded the album in an old factory building, how did that come about?
John: Patrick Wimberly has had his own studio in that factory building for years, and we wanted to make it with him, and that’s where his studio was. It was also nice to just be in New York consistently enough, it wasn’t too distracting.
This isn’t your first time in the UK, are there any UK bands that have stood out to you in your time over here?
Max: Current or past?
Max: Definitely the past, were kind of anglophiles…
John: We’re all pretty picky (laughs)
Max: That’s a tough question
John: We don’t have our ear to the ground with that kind of stuff over here.
Max: It’s hard.
John: You’re asking the wrong guys (laughs)
You appear to have quite an eclectic taste in music, who are your main influences, both musically and stylistically?
John: Yeah, we’ve loved Sparks for a long time.
Max: The Clash are always good.
John: Pet Shop Boys…
There’s some great band’s coming up from New York. Yourselves, QTY, The Britany’s… Do you think there’s something happening there?
John: There could be something happening there, we’re friends with QTY. I don’t really know… they’ve been playing since I moved to New York. It doesn’t feel like a scene, we’re not part of any scene, and I don’t think they are either.
Max: It’s not like a CBGB’s sort of thing.
John: It’s not something brewing, y’know. It doesn’t feel like that.
Max: But there’s good bands!
John: There’s certainly good bands.
I read that you (John) called ‘Last Nite’ by The Strokes your gateway drug to music…
John: When I was younger, that record yeah.
What song of yours would recommend to be someone’s gateway to your band?
John: Maybe Evil Disco. I think it’s my favourite from the first record. from the new one… Meltdown is cool
Max: Meltdown’s cool.
John: I don’t know, I really like everything.
What are your goals for this tour, and beyond?
Max: More fans…
John: We’re just trying to expand. I think exposure and expansion… is that a word? I mean, we just want to show people that we’re in it for real. I think that we come across as a real band’s band. I think if you give us a chance and listen to us, or come to a show, we just trying to get across that were not messing around, we take it serious. It’s always been what we’ve done, we’ve always liked the same thing. We’ve never been drastically changing our shit up to try and fit in. I think were pretty loyal with ourselves and we work really hard and I hope that people take away that, and see that.
What’s in store for the rest of the year?
Max: Dates in Europe, then we go home for a couple of days, then we go back to North America for a month, then after that we’ve got some things planned, we’re kind of waiting, taking things in.
John: The records out in a week, we’re on tour now, so…
Max: Things could happen right now.
John: We’re kind of waiting for news for now.
That’s got to be exciting…
John. I’m antsy about it all.
Finally, LFM is centred around live music. What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
Max: AC/DC in New York. They played before Brian Johnson had to leave the band. That was hands down the best show I’ve ever been to.
John: I saw Johnathan Richmond play a few months ago. I actually had really low expectations for it (laughs) but it was actually amazing. I was so captivated by the way he plays the mash-ups of all the songs, but makes things up as he goes, you have to be really crazy or really brave to be able to do that on the spot. It seems like your always have to be on it, or you’re just crazy so it’s easy for you, I don’t know. I think he’s a bit crazy.
Max: He’s a little crazy, yeah. But in a good way!
John: It was a weird small performance in a theatre, where you’d see a Broadway play or something. It was pretty cool.
After the interview the band assemble for photos, and I leave to let them get ready for the show. As the venue starts to fill, John emerges from the dressing room and has a wander through the crowd, shaking hands and greeting fans. He’s soon joined by Max as they watch support band Fehm, before disappearing once more before stage time.
As Public Access T.V. take to the stage, they demonstrate exactly why there’s so much excitement surrounding them. They deliver a tight, fiery set that has a perfect blend of fan favourites from their debut and new singles, also treating fan’s to unheard tracks from the upcoming ‘Street Safari’. I’ve never seen a band who look like they belong on stage as much as PATV do. The note-perfect drumming of Peter Sustarsic, the effortless cool of guitarist Xan Aird, the musicianship of Max Peebles and the ferocity of John Eatherly all make for something that is truly special, a band we should all be paying attention to.
‘Street Safari’ will be released on 23/02/18, and you can see their remaining UK dates below:
Bristol, The Crofters Rights- Tuesday 20th February
Southampton, The Joiners – Wednesday 21st February
London, Oslo Hackney – Thursday 22nd February
Brighton, The Green Door Store – Saturday 24th February
Interview by Jordan Scott, you can follow Jordan on twitter here.