Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Public Access TV - The Wardrobe, Leeds. Review & Interview

It’s a very damp Saturday evening in November with the sound of fireworks in the night air almost palpable. In order to stave off early signs of Seasonal Affected Disorder, tonight I’m at The Wardrobe to check out and chat with the Big Apple’s next great musical hope Public Access TV. The stateside quartet (recently bulked up from their original three piece with the recruitment of Max Peebles) are currently this side of the pond for a short tour playing a combination of gigs, mainly supporting a similarly hot UK prospect, Liverpool’s Circa Waves, plus a couple of headline shows for good measure in London then finishing across the channel in Paris. 

The quartet consist of John Eatherly (Vocals/Guitar), Xan Aird (Guitar/Vocals), Pete Baumann (Drums/Vocals) and Max Peebles (Bass/Vocals) and despite the band still being in its first year, they can already boast a record deal, achieved after their debut live performance at New Yorks hotspot Niagara. All have been around the block, cutting their teeth in a clutch of previous bands, sometimes together, most notably John in the gloriously noisy Be Your Own Pet, whose star shone brightly but briefly almost a decade ago. Add to that the latest PATV single, the remarkably stylish “In the Mirror”, with its glam groove verses and shimmering sun-drenched pop chorus, landing a deserved spot on the Steve Lamacq 6music playlist and you start to think that these guys might be worth checking out. Listening to the handful of their other tracks currently available in the virtual world give you the impression of a no-frills NYC guitar band trying not to sound too-like The Strokes, yet each and every one of their songs feels crisp, fresh and punchy, leaving you in no doubt that these guys may have just what it takes to stand out from the rest in the composition department. 

Anyway, whilst the band finished off their sound check, I firstly chewed the fat with their similarly youthful looking and supremely affable manager Ben Goldstein, friends with some of the band members since high school and clearly thrilled to see his buddies enjoying their current upward trajectory. Talking about John’s first outfit BYOP, Ben still has fond memories of that time. ‘She [Jemima Pearl, singer in BYOP] was great man, I was buddies with them all growing up, and next thing they’re off, going to travel the world….they were the best.’ 

Catching up with John and Max is a similarly pleasurable experience, both oozing the Manhattan coolness without appearing to try at all, yet coming across with warmth perhaps not typical of a resident of those parts. When asked how their band has evolved during their relatively short time together John stated ‘We’ve been together almost a year now, basically making demos, writing as much as we can. We had an exclusive EP that came out, only sold at the Rough Trade stores that had ‘Monaco’, ‘Middle Child’, ‘Rebounder’ and ‘Monkey’ on it.’ Max interjecting with ‘We’ve been staying busy’. 

Asked about the colourful previous experience in bands of the PATV members John opines ‘We’ve all had kind of a lush history of touring and playing music with different people, learning how to deal with the insanity of the music business.’, Max adding ‘This is not our first Rodeo.’

The band’s only previous visit to Leeds was under an assumed name as john explains. ‘We were kind of getting our bearings as a live band over here, we only played one show in New York in January so we came over here and did a couple of festivals including ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘Stagger Dagger’ and it was kinda fun.’

Despite being based in New York, none of the band members are actually from there originally John confessing ‘When I moved there, a lot of people I knew told me that if I managed to stay for 5 years then that’s long enough to be a New Yorker and I think that’s fairly true. We’ve all lived there for eight years or so and now we’re all pretty close together in Manhattan’.

The band are naturally delighted at the positive response of UK radio to the latest singe ‘In The Mirror’, ironically recorded in isolation at RAK Studios in London. A lot of earlier band demos were recorded in Nashville but John rightly points out that it’s a lot of time and expense to do so, adding ‘we’re currently trying to figure out more recording in New York. We’ve accumulated a lot of material as of now so it’s probably time to go and make the record. The most important thing to us is our songs so if we can put all our effort into that we will be really happy, whatever helps us stay busy’.

Naturally the elephant in the room is the natural comparisons with fellow New Yorkers ‘The Strokes’ but neither are particularly fazed by that, Max confirming ‘It doesn’t really bother me’ and John elaborating ‘it makes total sense that in the 14 or so years they’ve been around, lots of guitar bands in my neighbourhood were influenced by them including ourselves, because they were the most successful’.  

After a surprisingly enjoyable set from grunge throwbacks ‘Bloody Knees’ it’s time for John and his trio of band mates to strut their stuff, warming up with the riffs to ‘School’s Out’ and ‘Greensleeves’. They’re clearly raring to go, unfazed by the largely ambivalent crowd of pretty youthful looking indie kids, clearly only here to see their latest heroes Circa Waves afterwards. Indeed most of this lot have probably never heard of PATV, let alone familiar with any of their material so it will be left to yours truly to plough a lone furrow.  As the opening bars of languid slacker anthem ‘Middle Child’ cranks out, I find myself obliged to stir things up, the sole voice singing along to the lyrics, my right foot tapping away to the crisp beat...the Ramones would definitely approve.   

We get the heads down bluesy shuffle of ‘Summertime’ and then it’s the infectiously taut ‘Monaco’ and you can sense the crowd are starting to dig what they’re hearing, John exuding icecube pissing coolness, as I find myself once more joining in to ‘She’s got that morning after glow’, the killer line in the chorus as you realise the material’s sounds great live. The interplay between John, second guitarist Xan and Max on bass is also good to watch as the rockier ‘Hanging Around’ is followed by ‘Ready to Die’ both reeking of that scuzzy college rock sound we all know and love.  

Highlight of the set is new release ‘In the Mirror’ most probably good enough to elbow its way into any Brendan Benson album as we effortlessly segue into the last three songs, a trio of 80s sounding punk funk numbers including ‘Metropolis’, the short and to the point ‘Rebounder’, finishing the show with ‘Running’ complete with the first real guitar solo. They deservedly get a decent amount of noise from the audience as they leave the stage after barely half an hour although I’m not exactly sure if that’s because the crowd know their band is on next. Anyway, if the audience don’t know a cracking rock and roll band when they see one they should be sat at home watching X-Factor instead.   

Words - Mike Price
Public Access TV Official

Listen to In The Mirror