We tried to impress Television’s Tom Verlaine in an interview and he shut us down so hard

May 7, 2014

I love Television. The legendary members of the 1970’s CBGB scene wrote two albums, Marquee Moon and Adventure, that are on lifetime regular rotation on my record player and iPod. That’s why when their lead singer, Tom Verlaine, reached about doing an interview, I had a super fan moment: got a little light headed, pinched myself, and promptly started freaking out about what to ask him.

Interviewing Tom Verlaine comes with some rules. First of all, he handles Television’s publicity himself – as in, he is actually the band’s publicist – and the interview offer came in an e-mail that he wrote. In his all lowercase, questionably punctuated note, he said that Television rarely does interviews, and never in person, but that he would answer questions over e-mail as long as the article was published by Thursday before the show. (Look Tom, we did it!)

Subsequent Googling around revealed that he doesn’t like your average interview questions, and will make it painfully clear if he thinks you’ve asked him about the wrong stuff. He apparently wants questions about “music, art, literature, cultures,” is sketchy on anything related to CBGB or punk, and will straight up not answer something if he doesn’t feel like it.

So I scoured his previous interviews looking for non-stupid things to ask him. None of the usual “what are your influences” stuff – I wanted to make this about Important Things like art and literature, and about the band’s history outside of the usual CBGB story. This is one of my heroes, and I didn’t want to screw it up.

Here’s how that went.

Of course he left more than half of them blank. Who would really want to answer questions this dense? What was I even talking about with the art stuff? And how stupid was the tour bus radio question?

Turns out Tom Verlaine is just a regular guy, who wants to have regular conversations, like the rest of us.

But no tour bus.

Television play at the Phoenix Theatre on Saturday, May 10th, as part of Canadian Music Week. I’ll be there checking on what means of transportation the band used to arrive at the gig.

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