TV Priest are a relatively new band from London, who in a short time have made a real impact, even though they’ve only played a handful of live shows (thanks pandemic). As the live music scene went into a hibernation TV Priest had their album ready to go. After signing to Sub Pop the album was released into the wild and to say it made a stir would be an understatement, every blog, publication and magazine wanted a slice of the debut album and it received critical success. Their music captures the raw, powerful angst that is heard with artists such as IDLES and Shame yet lyrically they carry a poignancy not heard since The Fall. It’s poignent post-punk for the modern age and it shines a bright light on the worlds (particularly the U.K’s) many issues. As time goes by ‘Uppers’ will be seen as an album reflective of the times, a snapshot of divided nation.
With this in mind and many spins of their debut record we were eager to chat to the band to find out more about their music, the debut album and much more! We caught up with Charlie to discuss all this and more!
Kieran: Thanks again for taking the time to chat to us! How have you been?
Charlie: Pretty good thanks. We’re very proud of releasing our debut album, it’s been a pretty strange year to do so but we’re happy it’s out in the world. Nic has a newborn daughter and Alex is soon to be married. So a good start to the year all things considered.
Kieran: How did you all meet and at what point did you all decide to form TV Priest and make music?
Charlie: We’ve all known each other from school, a few members even earlier than that, and have been making music together since we were teenagers. We decided to reform and properly start playing again in early 2019. We were all in different places in life and it felt as if perhaps we we’re drifting apart a little. Forming the band really was a way to reaffirm our friendship and just build a bit of time and space to collaborate and create as friends.
Kieran: So, your debut album ‘Uppers’ is out in the world how does it feel and how has the response been?
Charlie: It feels great to finally share it with people. I don’t think our friends and family really believed we’d written and recorded an entire album. The response has been more than we could hope for, to see the music resonate with other people when it came from such a personal space has been amazing. Obviously it’s been quite weird as it’s been released at a time when we couldn’t see people and gauge how it feels in a live space so perhaps it forced us to be a little more self reflective, but usually that’s a good thing.
Kieran: You guys are relatively new on the scene and have only played one live show so how was it Sup Pop caught wind of you?
Charlie: It sounds like the plot of a bad film but there are only 2 people who work for Sub Pop in the UK and one of them caught our second single on the radio. The next thing we knew we had a zoom call with them and they’d offered us a record deal. It was honestly quite overwhelming. To even be a small part in that label’s history means a lot.
Kieran: Did you have the album written and ready before being signed?
Charlie: We’d finished recording the album in February 2020. We’d kind of set ourselves a goal of making an album even before we had put any music out or played a show. It was a task to ourselves to prove we could do it more than anything. We actually finished the final mix the day we went into the first lockdown in the UK.
Kieran: Your music has a very socio-political undertone was this something that formed naturally or did you go into writing with this in mind?
Charlie: It was a conscious decision insofar as we just wanted to try and be honest about our lives and how we process the world around us. A lot of the record is really about us trying to figure things out or make sense of sets of ideas and environments that feel increasingly stressful. I think this was our intent going forward, to be conversational and speak about things as we came to them. The record certainly isn’t a manifesto or guide to living but I hope it talks about a time and a place in both a personal and universal way.
“A lot of the record is really about us trying to figure things out or make sense of sets of ideas and environments that feel increasingly stressful“Charlie – TV Priest
Kieran: I am particularly interested on your take of the media, tracks such as ‘Press Gang’ are based off your grandfather’s work as a photojournalist and war correspondent between the 50’s and 80’s. How do you feel press has changed since then and why?
Charlie: I think I’ve been in a unique position to kind of view this with my family history. My grandfather was a very honest man but perhaps a little naive in some respects about how his work and views would be used. I’m well aware that news and the news paper business has always been just that, a business set up to tell stories and histories of a certain group of people based around a for profit model. By extension ‘Press Gang’ in lots of ways is quite an uneasy song as it kind of riffs on this. What I do think is new now is the rate at which ‘the big lie’ can be disseminated and readily believed, and how a concept of truth is always in contention.
Watch the video for ‘Press Gang’ here:
Kieran: Do you feel music press has changed too?
Charlie: I suppose it’s changed in that traditional gatekeepers perhaps don’t hold the power they once did. Anyone can go on social media and write a considered, well informed review or post a daming take down of a record they like or dislike and perhaps this influences their immediate follower base more than a piece from a ‘trusted source’. What I have found interesting (in regard to our own experience) is often you can still find the ‘root’ or birthplace of a set of ideas and opinions from one of these larger more established places and that then permeates smaller publications, right the way down to individuals who pride themselves on ‘having an opinion’. It’s quite amazing to watch this filtration progress through a social media ecosystem and how people gauge a piece of music or a musician’s intentions based on this. Perhaps this was the same as it ever was though, just more transparent.
Kieran: With disinformation and post-truth being at the forefront of most media how can we strive for truth and do you feel we can bounce back from such a thing?
Charlie: I’m not really sure if I’m honest, I’m just some guy in a band. I know from my perspective I try and read and listen to a wide range of news sources to build a picture of what is the ‘truth’ of the story. Reading history from lots of different viewpoints and angles is important too. Just be interested in what and why people are pushing certain ideas and stories I suppose.
Kieran: How does music fit into this and how is it an effective tool of raising awareness to such things?
Charlie: I think music is especially important as it’s such a direct art form. Perhaps more so than any other medium I think it establishes an emotional connection very quickly. I think this is important to help spread ideas. I don’t think you can ever be so presumptuous to believe your music can change opinions or perspectives but I think it can be a bit of a ‘gateway’ for the listener who then may go off and explore activism, or subcultures, or different world views. I know it did this for me as a teenager at least. It takes you out of yourself.
“I don’t think you can ever be so presumptuous to believe your music can change opinions or perspectives but I think it can be a bit of a ‘gateway’ for the listener“Charlie – TV Priest
Kieran: Do you feel your music plays a role in this? if so how and why?
Charlie: I think we make music and art as it’s a conduit for me to communicate ideas and feelings that we couldn’t just say so it would mean that this intention has succeeded if the music inspires someone to go and explore some of the things are expressing, or some of the ideas we’re talking about. However I’m aware that now it’s left us I can’t really stand next to the work and sign post things or constantly explain intent or meaning. Maybe it’s something to ask a listener rather than the band!
Kieran: Personally, I cannot wait to see you guys live (COME TO CORNWALL!) but once we’re able to where and when are you hoping to play?
Charlie: We’re pretty excited to be out playing these songs live. We’ve got a tour booked in that stops at most parts of the U.K at the end of the year (October / November 2021) . I do have family in Cornwall so who know we might end up down there soon!
Kieran: What can we expect from one of your live shows?
Charlie: I think it will be loud, expressive, cathartic, hopefully and maybe a bit humorous too.
Kieran: Lastly, we like to end with a story so can you tell us something funny or gnarly that has happened to you guys?
Charlie: One of our first ever shows when we were teenagers was playing in the bar at a dog racing track. Put it this way, people really did not want to listen to a bunch of teenage prog-punks when they we’re trying to watch the races (and who can blame them). We had to stop playing every time there was a race ‘in case it scared the dogs’. Worst. Gig. Ever.