The debut album Uppers from London-based post-punk band, TV Priest (via Hand in Hives), will be out November 13. The self-produced LP is the result of the rising quartet’s pulsating, industrial sound with politically and socially-charged lyricism. For fans of IDLES, Fontaines D.C., and Protomartyr, the group’s previous releases have been championed by 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, NME, So Young, and Dork. The band, consisting of four reunited childhood friends who made music together as teenagers, now exists as TV Priest. And the album has a lot to say. As TV Priest describes, “The process of making music had always been very cathartic for us and we probably didn’t realize that until we stopped doing it for a while and realized what was missing.” Read more about what went into this record and check out their latest single “Slideshow” out now.
Your debut album Uppers is coming this November. What went into creating this album? What elements of the album are you most proud of?
A lot of life went into this record, the good, the messy, painful and joyous. It’s a piece of work I can’t really imagine us making at any other time in our lives. I still think we were searching for something or maybe not making art from a particularly ‘true’ place. I think I am most proud that we were able to be honest and direct with it.
How is this release different from previous releases?
There’s more of it for a start! I’m really excited for people to hear a bigger set of songs and hopefully connect the dots between them and hear some of the other sides to our songwriting.
As an artist I think it’s really a privilege to be able to ask questions, to root around in the dirt and pull things out and present them in new ways.
With releases like “House of York,” your music has been politically charged, thus far. Can we expect similar themes throughout the album?
The album does have some pretty direct political themes alongside the more personal or abstract. I think as people we try to be politically active or at the very least actively engaged; it’s something we talk about a lot as friends so it felt right to talk about it in our music, too. As an artist I think it’s really a privilege to be able to ask questions, to root around in the dirt and pull things out and present them in new ways. There are a lot of things to feel angry or distressed about at the moment and whilst art can’t always offer solutions, it can let you know you’re not alone.
How have recent global events affected your creative process?
I think it’s forced us to really think about the role our wider community plays within our music making. I think the lack of contact and connection in real, physical spaces was something I didn’t realise was so important to me. We’ve been trying to reach out to other artists or acts we’ve found really inspirational as I know a kind word from a stranger has certainly helped me the past few months.
When was Uppers completed? Are there any additional topics you would have included?
Uppers was finished in early April, just as we went into full lockdown. I think in retrospect I’d probably include more personal topics, about my family and loved ones. The record is quite outward in it’s approach and the past few months have focused me on those closest to me.
What is your strategy when writing new music? Do you set out with a topic, a melody or a lyric first?
Alex, Nic and Ed are all brilliant demo makers and are very good at bringing the bones of a song, melody, or beat to the group independently. We usually have an ‘intention’ for a song lyrically and then it’s a case of taking it into a practice room and feeling it out / playing over and over again until we establish a groove or rough structure. I’ll usually have a load of lyrics and poems in front of me and collage it all together as we go, building the words and melody up around what I want to communicate.
Each of you have other artistic hobbies/careers. Can you tell us about those and how that plays into your art overall?
I’m an artist and designer too and for a long time I saw my visual work and music as quite separate things. Making art for other musicians was somehow a thing different from my ‘own work’. It’s only been in the last few years that I realised it was kind of symbiotic and actually the thing I was getting booked to do as my day job was to collaborate artist to artist. It’s been really nice to be able to bring that same part of my brain to two big parts of my life and have it all bleed into each other.
If you could play with any musician, alive or otherwise, who would you want to collaborate with and why?
Prince, because, you know …it’s frickin’ Prince!
You’ve known each other since you were all very young. What advice would you give to another young up and coming band?
Remember to always stay friends first and understand why you formed a band. It should be fun!
Where did your band name originate?
We began in this formation about 10 months ago, we’d all wandered in different directions since the break up of a previous project in the mid 2010’s and we felt the need to reconnect as friends. Our friendship has been built so solidly for years around music it was kind of inevitable we ended up in a practice room.
The name came from a trip to the US browsing through the weird infomercial channels and watching some of the large scale televised evangelical sermons, this idea of spirituality, consumerism and mass broadcast media was so weird, funny, and troubling it just kind of fitted with the music we were making.
You’ve said that TV Priest was built upon a need to create together once again. How did taking a break as a group at a young age help you become a stronger band today?
I think it made us all miss each other! It also gave us a bit of time to grow up and tackle situations and life on our own terms. This meant that when we came back together as a group of people we were better able to communicate how we felt with each other and, by extension through the music.