TV Smith joined the late Jay Reatard on a short US tour in 2009. He’d open the string of shows with an acoustic set, followed by Jay’s set of Blood Visions / Matador singles material, and the night would conclude with Jay’s band backing up TV for a set of Adverts classics. I missed the Memphis date so I hopped in the van and headed to Oxford the following day. Full disclaimer: this is one of my first interviews ever.
What were you doing before the Adverts started?
TV Smith: Before The Adverts I played in a school band and before that I was just writing poetry. The whole thing was a process that at some point became known to other people and then it just kind of became established. I was always just getting it out of myself and writing, not thinking this is the way my future lies.
Who were some of the first bands The Adverts played with?
We started out just as punk was starting out. We were one of the first punk bands to ever play the Roxy, the first time we played there was with Slaughter and the Dogs and Eater. I think the second or third time was with Generation X. Later we played with bands like The Damed, Ramones, The Heartbreakers. Kind of everyone really.
What were shows at The Roxy like?
The Roxy was only open until April of ’77 in its original form, so it was literally only open for 100 days, they took away the lease and some other guy took it over and it was never the same. A lot of the bands got too big for it even though they had started out at this little club…it was tiny. It had a little bar upstairs with a downstairs room. The stage was a total of six inches off the ground and I think if you got a hundred and fifty people in there it was really uncomfortably full.
Did you ever tour Europe?
We played a few shows in mainland Europe, but mostly in Britain. We did a few gigs in holland and a few gigs in Germany, we didn’t really get outside of Britain very much. We got successful in Britain quite early so we toured on the back of that. You know, we broke up after two years so we didn’t get the time to go much further.
What bands did you tour with?
The first major tour we did was supporting the Damned and we went out on a 30 day tour of Britain. Both bands were in really good shape and it was a really good tour because things were still really exciting and both bands were really trying hard. Later that year we did a tour supporting Iggy Pop and that was like a dream come true because me and Gaye were both big fans. That tour was our biggest because all the dates were theater dates rather than club dates. All of a sudden here was this little punk band that started 6 months ago and we were supporting our hero.
Editors note: 11 years later I’m realizing how stupid it was not to have any follow up questions about the Iggy Pop tour. Ah well, hindsight is 420, as they say.
So it caught on that quick?
Yeah our first gig was January 1977 and by summer of 77 we had a hit single and we were a famous pop band.
Did you guys ever tour the US?
Nope, we were advertised to play CBGB’s once but it never happened, I never knew why but now I’m beginning to figure out how hard it is to get a visa and it makes sense why we weren’t able to get a visa. (Tv missed the first handful of dates with Jay Reatard after he was denied a visa in London.)
What was Britain’s reaction to The Adverts and the other first generation punk bands?
They were shocked, completely shocked. It was unbelievable. That’s kind of what made you think you were doing something right. We started because we didn’t like society and we didn’t like the music that was going on. They were just absurdly shocked, looking back and thinking about how people were protesting outside Sex Pistols concerts and holding up banners.