May 162007

I reached soon-to-be former Television guitarist and solo artist Richard Lloyd at his hotel in Hamilton Ontario, Canada, as he and The Sufi Monkeys, were about to kick off a brief tour of Ontario and select US cities, winding their way to Philadelphia’s Khyber on Thursday, May 17 and ending up back home in New York City at the Knitting Factor on May 19.

Within minutes of his gradual emergence from what sounded like a Nosferatu-like awakening, it became clear why a mic has rarely been set before him by any hands other than his own. The guy wouldn’t shut up. Better to have all that energy and bullshit pent up for his guitar solos, I’m sure some of his collaborators have thought, but this guy’s on the verge of something big, and it’s time we let him have his say.

Today, Central Park SummerStage series is set to announce the appearance of Television on June 16. Lloyd has announced that this will be his last show with the band so that he can dedicate his energies to the fall release of a new album, The Radiant Monkey. Meanwhile, in February, Lloyd reissued his 1985 album Field of Fire in an expanded edition that includes a second CD on which he re-recorded and remixed much of the original release. I had hoped that this rare do-over would be part of an enlightening and nerdy discussion to suit the fantasies of our Townspeople, but instead I was treated to a torrent of intergalactic mumbo jumbo and would-be provacative macho cock-talk. KISS’ Gene Simmons pulling that crap on NPR’s Terry Gross is high-brow water-cooler talk. A cult guitarist pulling similar crap on a plain old dude whose intentions are good is one of life’s little regrets.

Everything I say is a joke…

[In a croaked whisper…]
Richard Lloyd: I’m a little under the weather as far as my voice is concerned. It’s sort of par for the course that I would develop a chest cold and a sore throat in front of 11 days straight of singing. It’s part of my karma. It’s kind of a cosmic joke that’s played on me. You know, my vocal teacher – one of them – used to tell me that I should quickly run into a recording studio and sing, because I would have a husky, sexy voice. Even though I would lose my top notes, I would gain a few bottom notes as I sing my ballads and love songs. [hacking cough]

Rock Town Hall: If you get to a point when you need to stop to save your voice, just say the word.

RL: That was about 5 minutes before you woke me up… I’m kidding. Everything I say is a joke… I’m vertical now. This is better. Fluids will move.

RTH: Can you tell me about your new album coming out in the fall, The Radiant Monkey?

RL: You’re not allowed to say that. You haven’t got permission. You can say the letters R-M. I’m serious, don’t print that. Just say R-M. You can say that I told you you’re not allowed to say it. That’s different than saying it. It has to do with my ad campaign, which is all teasers, to begin with. So if you blow it, it’s like the punchline.

RTH: I’m going to be tracked down.

RL: No, you’ll just interfere with my plans for conquering earth.

RTH: I also read that coming up in May will be your last appearance with Television.

RL: No, in June. What are you reading, for godsakes?

RTH: Your website. It said this would be announced on May 15th…

RL: June 16th! I know what’s on my website. It’s not May. It’s June.

RTH: Can there be a Television without you?

RL: I don’t care. Let them try. Our original agreement was that any three could replace a departing member and continue under the name Television. God bless them if they want to continue getting a fourth member, like perhaps they want to hire Jimmy Ripp. Good luck.

RTH: Good guitarist, but he’s not you.

RL: No he’s not me, and since I practiced invisibility for fucking 35 years, you know, excuse my French… I wish them well. It’s an amicable departure. I simply do not have the wherewithal to put my magical and supernatural forces in two projects and I can’t ride two horses. My own career has simply turned into a religious project to save the earth and the little critters that crawl on its thin, cooled surface over the real earth, which is, if you want to know what the earth really looks like, look down an active volcano. But upon the thin cool crust, whereupon the little critters crawl and fight each other – they’re not very nice to each other – we Sufi Monkeys have simply got to help teach them to be nice to one another. And if we have to do music and shamanic performance, so be it. I’m asking for religious status for my Sufi Monkeys because we’re embarked on a project quite as equally – in fact much more important to the benefit of mankind – than Scientology.

RTH: Will we need to dress appropriately for your shows?

RL: Yes, with clothing… Unless you’re a woman. Women do not have to wear clothing at my shows.

RTH: Sounds like a good policy.

RL: It is a good policy. You know the book of Morman has some odd things to say. Why shouldn’t my religious document have equally audacious, outrageous, and ridiculous statements? Do you know the Church of the Subgenious?

RTH: Yep.

RL: Well, my favorite saying is when they asked Bob if he practiced what he preached, and he said, “Of course not, I’m not the kind of person I’m preaching to.”

RTH: Now, you’ve also recently –

RL: Now? You said “Now?” What about then?

RTH: We can get to then later; there’s plenty of time for then.

RL: Thank you, you’re beginning to learn. You see how I’ve influenced you already with my powerful forces of hypnosis? You are now a better human being than you were then, from before you called me. That’s in fact how it works with this and me.

Lloyd went on to talk about the most important event in mankind that was underway, the piecing of the heliosphere by Voyager 2. Considering that I still can’t tell my Big Dipper from my Little Dipper, I spaced out for a while he found his groove.

RL: I’m sorry I got into my harsh period, you know, like Jimi Hendrix [goes into “Third Stone from the Sun” voice] “I said on the people farm…” – you know, Jimi Hendrix, “Third Stone…” [makes raspberry noise]

RTH: Right. I’m getting a “Third Stone” vibe here.

RL: You know, you were recording me, right? How are you gonna quote [raspberry sound]?

More time in my life passed through the hourglass, as Lloyd correctly sussed that I didn’t read enough comic books in my youth. I was reminded of Ernest Shackleton’s ship, Endurance.

RL: Jimi and I have a personal relationship. Just like you have a personal relationship with your savior and your chief monkey, Jesus or whoever, Shiva, I have relationship with my master and guardian. I don’t just have one guardian angel. I have phalange. Do you know anything about a phalange?…

I knew the word, although I had to endure the derivation of the word and a brief history lesson. Truth be told, I could care less about the Roman army, Roman history, and the like.

RL: I’m applying for religious status in the United States to improve my financial picture.

RTH: And then what’s next, conquer Katie Holmes?

RL: Conquer? I’m going to seduce the little critters into being nice to one another on earth. You know, we haven’t talked much about music.

RTH: I’m curious about that. One of the things I wanted to ask you about was the Fields of Fire reissue.

RL: No. Jesus Christ, it’s not plural! It’s Field of Fire. Singular. Because it’s anything that seduces you on earth horizontally. It might be dice, women, whatever it is that keeps you running away from yourself towards some other kind of inducement. That’s the field of fire. It’s the opposite of the Buddhist Nirvana, which is the cessation of desire. That’s what Nirvana means; it’s the blow out. It’s the blow out of the candle of desire. So what do you want to know about the FIELD of Fire? If you want to know about the fields of fire you should probably go to Hawaii.

RTH: Here’s what I want to know about the Field of Fire –

RL: Thank you, Mr. Journalist who’s done all his research.

RTH: Mr. Journalist is bad with his proper nouns.

RL: Oh my god, let me come over and kiss you. Would you like to sit on Uncle Richie’s lap? I have a big hard cock.

RTH: No thank you.

RL: My bass player is unfortunately laying on the floor in gales of laughter. I mean sustained winds of 40 miles or more are roaring through his lungs, and he’s bouncing like a bellows. He’s only surpassed by Santa Claus in the manner of his laughing…

Then I was treated to lecture on newspapers that was meant to blow my mind, maaaannnnn, but I didn’t have the heart to tell Lloyd that more pressing matters, like the divorce of my parents already did that 30-some years ago. I endured.

RL: You know my new band are The Sufi Monkeys. I’m only one of them. It just so happens that my name has better publicity value, that’s why my name gets mentioned first…

Somehow Lloyd then got carried away with this thoughts and challenged Jim Morrison to a fight. I let out an audible sigh at the realization that I’d be getting very little rock nerd nookie out of this long-distance call.

RL: Yeah, “Uhhhh” – I heard that little sound, you little critter.

RTH: Hey man, that was a positive sound.

RL: I know, it was the release of some negative energy from you. Involuntarily I forced it upon thee… You see, everything I say is completely thought out. I mean, I’m not thinking right now. Why would I waste my fucking brain on that? Thinking’s like the foam on a beer. Takes up a lot of space. Doesn’t get you stoned, and I’m permanently stoned. You can realize that by the fact that you woke me out of a deep sleep, and I’m already so wrecked, and I’ve been speaking nonstop. I’m so verbose I haven’t had time to do anything intoxicating. All my wishes have come true. Lightening has struck me three times: during Marquee Moon; CBGBs, which was a 3-year-long New Year’s Eve party that I threw along with my friends and all those other bands that would otherwise have day jobs if it weren’t for me; and during the Field of Fire days; and now. You know, three is the most important.

CBGBs is the most famous rock ‘n roll club to have ever existed and I fucking created it!

RTH: Tell me about your days setting the scene at CBGBs.

RL: We needed a place to play. A shithole nobody else wanted, and we steamrolled over the owner, who wanted to have country bluegrass, and we created the world’s most creative rock ‘n roll club bar none. I mean, is there any – I don’t care for your Cavern Club, Marquee Club, Whiskey-a-Go-Go, Boo-Hoo-Hoo Club… CBGBs is the most famous rock ‘n roll club to have ever existed and I fucking created it! I was the invisible force behind it, because Terry Ork, my lover – oh, he wasn’t, he just chased me around. I mean, after all, he was Television’s manager. Who’s more interested in the careers of young, delicious-looking men than gay people? After all, Brian Epstein… Any rock ‘n roll manager is one of two things: either a sleazebag, cigar-smoking asshole businessman or a gay person. I’d much rather be managed by a queer. Queers are usually nicer than the other critters that run along the surface of the earth trying to play the game of King of the Hill.

RTH: Back then, when you were playing 10-minute long songs –

RL: We’re still playing 10-minute long songs. Aren’t you coming to one of the shows? We’re also playing 2-minute long songs. What kind of man are you, questioning my length?

RTH: I have no problem with your length.

RL: I’ve learned to make mine, like, 2- and 3-feet long…by folding it in half. Rolling it up like a firehose, but the girls like to unroll it, because I’m a back door man and a king bee. You follow?

Much silly talk about the sharing of wishes that had already come true and yoga ensues.

RL: Insignificant little writer! I could crush you like a small beetle, and irradescent colors would come out. It would be very pretty. It would be worth your death.

RTH: You have made me cry already, long before we’ve had this conversation.

RL: I have? I apologize.

RTH: No, please. They were tears of joy.

RL: Ah, the weeping of joy from the musical experience that super mighty mouse Richard has given you. Yes, I’ve made people stop breathing, jaws drop…

RTH: I was at a show years ago in Philadelphia when you were playing with Matthew Sweet.

RL: Matthew? I love Matthew. Wow, let me get off the phone so I can talk to him. I like him! No, I like you too. What’s your name, little girl? Hey, can I sit next to you, girl? Remember that AC/DC song?

RTH: When I saw you with Matthew Sweet –

RL: Hey, are you recording this for posterity? Mankind needs this! Very badly.

RTH: I’ll put it in a capsule and send it out to space when we’re done.

RL: What good would that do mankind if you send it to outer space, you idiot? It’s coming from outer space! That’s like a letter with something important in it, and you’re returning it to sender. Elvis did that and look where it got him. He died of straining a stool. Please, with a fucking Nixon badge on. Don’t do that to me!

RTH: When I saw you with Matthew Sweet, every guitar player in Philadelphia at that time was gathered at your side of the stage –

RL: Yes, staring at my fucking crotch! OK.

RTH: I was surprised people weren’t shoving dollar bills down your jeans.

RL: I was saying to myself, Will you please move over and let me see some tits? At least if you’re gonna stand there staring at my crotch lend me your girlfriend after the show.

RTH: Have you ever considered pulling out an acoustic guitar to move the guys out of your way?

RL: I have big burly security men with me this time. I have a posse… So tell me more about the crying. You’re not letting yourself get a word in edgewise. I’m a New Yorker.

RTH: [speechless]

At that moment I looked across the room in my hotel room and realized I had 20 minutes to pack my stuff and check out. I have failed you, Rock Town Hall, but I’m man enough to own up to my failure. I look forward to Richard Lloyd’s guitar’s thoughts on this interview.


  32 Responses to “Endurance: The Richard Lloyd Interview”


  2. general slocum

    You have not failed RTH! You have delightfully pared down a rambling rant with a self-medicating bi-polar speed freak into an enlightening dialogue which, to this reader, renders any further musical or guitar talk even less neccessary than usual. Beautiful.

  3. Holy hell. Dear Jim, when I said you were taking one for the team, I meant it with my whole heart – and now I know WHY. Now I know why. Dear god. I think I’m going to print this and reread it on the way to work again… I’m going to the show on Thursday! Space aliens be damned, and I want my free set list. I’m prepared to run if he gets too close.

  4. Amazing stuff. I suddenly have a great deal of empathy for Tom Verlaine.

  5. It IS an awesome interview btw!!!

  6. Wow, just wow!

    thank god you’re a good sport.

  7. BigSteve

    I wonder if this is what it’s like when he’s giving a guitar lesson.

  8. BigSteve – I bet those lessons are – based on reading some of the lessons he has online:

    And if you poke around the website – the writing is much like his interview…

  9. hrrundivbakshi

    Wow is right. That’s one crazy-ass mofo.

  10. meanstom

    This is the price one pays for staying invisible for too long.

  11. Like I said, hold onto that single of “See No Evil” and set the rest of the catalog out on the curb.

    Someday you’ll learn.
    E. Pluribus

  12. saturnismine

    gee, what a nice fellow.

  13. Amazing stuff. I suddenly have a great deal of empathy for Tom Verlaine.

    What Oats said above. Furthermore, I’ll add that for all these years I always thought that Tom Verlaine was the asshole of the band but then again I couldn’t help thinking that the whole thing was a gigantic put-on on Lloyd’s part. Still, what an asshole.

  14. BigSteve

    Can we start calling you Mr. Journalist instead of Mr. Moderator? I mean, as long as you continue to do all your research.

  15. Mr. Moderator

    I’m all about Moderation, Steve.

    Like Matt said, I’m sure there was an element of put-on by Lloyd. I was reminded of the line in “Venus”, in which “Richie said, ‘Hey man, let’s dress up like cops, think of what we could do.'” Now maybe I messed up that quote a bit, in which case the monkey lord will smote me, but I think you get what I’m saying.

    Hey, Epluribie, what’s there not to like about all but one song on Marquee Moon? Please educate us on how the music fails you. “Someday” might as well be now, and you might as well educate us.

  16. Wow. I’m speechless.

  17. I have to side with Lloyd on this one. You show up with an incomplete understanding of the word “phalange”, you quote gig dates from HIS website, you have the nerve to speak the name of his new album out loud, and finally you refuse to sit on his lap when offered. Can you blame HIM for your lack of preparation??? Is there any possible chance he will come to RTH to read his interview? One certainly gets the impression that he’s too self-important to care how he came off.

  18. Re: Marquee Moon.

    What IS there to like?

    E. Pluribus

  19. Mr. Moderator

    E. Pluribus wrote:

    What IS there to like?

    That is not the kind of helpful answer we have come to expect from you, Teacher. Please instruct.

  20. Ah wow, i guess he’s just letting out all that he’s been holding inside while being the “Silent guy” for 35 years. I wonder if there’s a bit of sarcasm in all of that. Alhtough I agree that he did fucking create CBGBs. Who cares about the Ramones and Blondie – it was Television.

    Btw, the “Richie” in “Venus” is refering to Hell, I believe.

  21. Mr. Moderator

    Shoot, Rollagasper, you may be right about the Richie reference. Faulty research…faulty memory…constantly screwing up my proper nouns.

  22. I was about to say: Hell and Verlaine were old friends from back home in ol’ Virginny, so it makes sense that he would be the guy in “Venus.” And frankly, Mr. Please Kill Me is way more likely to have an idea like that anyway.

  23. Wait a second – there was no free set list last night! It was an interesting show, and pretty packed. King of Siam opened – sounded like a weird version of the band Television Personalities, and Bunnydrums from Chicago; who were very entertaining once they got past the mid-tempo stuff and into more upbeat numbers. The lead singer was swinging the microphone around and doing the robot with his arms. Does Richard chant before opening every solo show? My guess: yes. Actually last night’s show was pretty full on with men staring at Richard’s crotch. He said that it’s getting better, thanked the women for coming, but still, “too many men.” 😉 He only played two Hendrix numbers: “Purple Haze” and “Spanish Castle Magic”. His voice was waning by the end of the set. He had my friend turn up the vocals as loud as they could go without reaching feedback status, or as Richard was quoted as saying “I don’t want to hear the LOCUSTS! Monitors are bullshit!” His show also came with a free twenty minute lecture on the Aramaic language and the origins of the word “God”. Repeat after me: “We [the audience] are insane. Richard Lloyd is sane.”

  24. He IS a very gifted guitarist. Does anyone know if Richard Lloyd only recently acquired his mysticism in show business. It seems to make more sense to me when I’m told that Erykah Badu talks about the origins of the Ankh on stage, that Roky Erickson is really just channeling Buddy Holly, or that Hendrix was waxing his ‘fro to get a clearer channel to God via the tips of the waxed ends, than Richard Lloyd talking about mysticism, little monkeys running around on the cooled surfaces of the earth’s crust, and positivity. Is that negative of me?

  25. The “crazy” men in rock, and what makes them legend: “crazy” in Roky’s case meaning “schizophrenic” which I realize is probably not the most politically correct way to put it.

  26. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for the report, Sally C. Anyone else at this show? I couldn’t get out – the whole family, minus myself, was in sick bay. I felt like Spock. Off to the New Land of Townsman Mark in a little bit. More later!

  27. I’ve just returned to my own New Land. Hey, when you’re out here, Mr. Mod, how about interviewing Don Henley?

  28. I went. Bunnydrums had only Dave Goerk, the singer and Frank, the guitarist from the original line up. They had another guy also on guitar that was a little more accomplished than the standard Bunnydrums six stringer. I did miss Joe Ankenbrand’s drumming. His meat and potatoes thumping gave them an earthiness that they needed desperately with all the post punk synthesizer and atonal guitar scratching. The new guy might have been technically a bit better, (I’m not saying he was) but definitely had less instrumental personality. They were always sort of one dimensional, but they did work it well in the old days. Last night they didn’t really do it for me.

    King of Siam was essentially the original line up that played in 1978, Bob Dickie on bass, Bob Bell on guitar and Jaycee Webster on vocals and Skye Kislow started drumming for them by about 1980. The Bob’s and Skye are all good players and the cracked sensibility of the band appeals to me more than some of their successors, like Strapping Field Hands, a band tha Jaycee was in that never did much for me. In the early days, the entire band had some of the most awful sounding equipment and I remember being astonished by how well Bob Dickie played hearing him play his electric bass unplugged one night at a soundcheck. At that time I’d seen them for years, and through the murk of his sound I never noticed that he was doin’ anything special. It’sw nice to see guys like this plugging away at what they’re doing. While I can’t recommend them unconditionally, there’s plenty of good pieces to make them at least interesting particularly given our long history.

    Richard Lloyd was NUTS. On the other hand, he played very well and his band was really solid, well rehearsed with a lot of feel, good players. Lloyd, who was not ever much of a vocalist, having neither a good voice nor the vocal personality of say Verlaine, sounded better than I had ever heard him at the top of the set, including his studio performances. It didn’t last, though, and his voice got uncomfortably ragged by the mid-point of the set, if not sooner. I might have preferred a more varied guitar attack, but Lloyd was on fire consistently hitting solos of Verlaine-like obliqueness but with Lloyds wild scales across the neck thrown in between the fire. Some people were clearly irritated with the wackiness and it did stretch the loooong night out even longer, but I do want to hear the new record after this performance. seriously, no shit.

  29. BigSteve

    Lloyd, who was not ever much of a vocalist, having neither a good voice nor the vocal personality of say Verlaine, sounded better than I had ever heard him at the top of the set, including his studio performances. It didn’t last, though, and his voice got uncomfortably ragged by the mid-point of the set, if not sooner.

    It was that brutal interview he was subjected to earlier in the week that blew Lloyd’s voice out.

  30. King of Siam was essentially the original line up that played in 1978

    Hey Geo, thanks for that great review – way better than mine. I’m glad that you wrote about King of Siam. I really dug them, especially the songs towards the end of their set – I’m not familiar at all, so I can’t say which ones, but I would go to see them again. When Lloyd went into his beginning speech, couple of guys standing next to me literally let out these audible groans, like ‘here he goes again,’ funny stuff. The show did go on very late. Too late. I think King of Siam’s singer or guitarist went missing or some such for a bit before finishing off soundcheck, and Richard had opted out of even a soundcheck at all so didn’t show up until the last minute, and same thing with Bunnydrums who were en route from Chicago right until moments before King of Siam went on, apparently.

    I do want to hear the new record after this performance. seriously, no shit.

    Yes, definitely, me as well. What did you think about the EQ on his microphone? Ha ha;) I think we could ALL hear him just fine. Those guys on stage struck me as super young to be playing out with Richard… And what was with the hand, I can’t remember if it was during ‘Soldier Blue’ – or something else, where he seemed to be gesturing to Baxter Clement about the vocals, or to the shining light or what – did you catch that Geo??

  31. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for the report, Geo. Sounds like it was some night.

    BigSteve, I’ve got the tape to prove that Lloyd’s voice improved the longer he spoke. The man was a trooper of the starship variety.

  32. EXTRA! EXTRA! Read All About It! Lloyd Hospitalized with “pneumonia”…Doesn’t play last show…

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