Your favourite New York band, Public Access TV, are back in the game with their second record, ‘Street Safari’. There’s hints of ‘70s funk in ‘MetroTech’, punk-rock on political anthem ‘Rough Boy’ and groovy R&B on ‘Lost In The Game’. A far cry from the wall-to-wall indie bangers on debut album ‘Never Enough’ – but just as arresting and exciting.
As they get ready to play a VO5 NME Awards Show this Thursday in London (Oslo, Hackney), we got the lowdown on the new record from frontman John Eatherly.
The new album is called ‘Street Safari’. How does that relate to the record?
The constant theme of the record is me observing these different stories that I see. If I’m not writing about myself and my own life, it comes from a observational point of view. So each song is very different from the last and over the span of the record there’s 4 or 5 different categories the songs could sit in. It was a nice thing to play with visually, too. I was looking at the name ‘Concrete Jungle’, but obviously couldn’t use that, so ‘Street Safari’ was among the last contenders that would portray that.
You launched straight into recording this album after ‘finishing’ touring. Why?
It was important to me that we didn’t wait very long as I didn’t want to lose any of the momentum. Plus I was very eager to be playing new material live. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted the whole album to be and feel like, and then it was a matter of doing the day-to-day work to get it to that point. It was easy to write as I had the final vision in my head as a blueprint – I just needed to fill in the blank. I found that I really need to isolate myself when I’m writing. I really can’t have many distractions.
Were you relieved to come off the road to get this record done?
To be honest, it hasn’t felt like it ended. Sure, we went straight into writing and demoing this, but it wasn’t like ‘record one cycle ended, now I’m going to do this’. It just fused together.
Do you prefer to be on the road, then?
In a lot of ways touring can be more calm and stressful than life in New York – when we’re just waiting around for something to happen. The idle time here when you’re not doing anything for a couple of weeks is way more stressful. On tour, 90% of the time you’re not doing anything. It’s been a struggle to work out a balance of what it’s like when I’m not on tour.
‘Rough Boy’ is probably your most political song to date. What’s it about?
It’s about being misled so it seemed appropriate writing it now. I was visualizing booths that they would have set up in high school where they’re trying to get you to join the Army or the Marines. It’s about trusting yourself and being brave enough to have your own opinion about things.
Did you feel any pressure when you went into the studio to get ‘Street Safari’ done?
The only pressure I put on myself is just trying to do something better than last time. So in my mind, I was trying to step forward. But I didn’t feel any pressure from any outside sources.
How does it compare to the making of your first album ‘Never Enough?
The record before was a real mess – we toured it and recorded it in so many different places, and I think it’s cohesive when I listen to it now. But the process was really all over the place. We were living in London, our house in New York exploded, we were changing record labels – everything was fucking crazy. So it felt really good to be able to write all these songs and then go and record it in a months time in our recording space. That sounds like a normal thing that bands do, but I’d never done that. This time I could craft and control how everything is going to sound how everything is going to look.
When you started Public Access TV, did you always think you’d be making a second record?
Well when we started out, it felt like a miracle that our first record came out. It took so long and was such a journey and crazy fucked up adventure getting to that point. I’ve always known that there’s no going back and playing anyone else’s band. I always knew that I was going to be playing music, recording music and touring it – whether that’s to 100 people or 5,000. There’s nothing else that I’ve ever been that obsessive about and I have been this way since I was pretty young. I sold my soul. I’m in it for the long haul.
Street Safari is out February 23
Public Access TV will play:
Oslo, London (February 22) – Tickets