TV Smith > TV Interviews

Betty M. interview


Not sure if this can be viewed by those outside of Facebook, but worth a try.

--- Quote ---Betty criticises live music in Glasgow and also tosses off the occasional record review...

 Often writes for
--- End quote ---

(I think it can be read by unregistered people? But I'll copy it in, as I got permission by Betty:)

Betty did a Q&A with the legendary TV Smith, former leader of The Adverts, who is appearing in Glasgow (Audio, Saturday 3 December). So will he blanch at these - TEN WITH BETTY?

1. Hullo TV Smith, you first came to prominence with The Adverts in the late 70s and were considered part of the "punk" movement. In the "40th" anniversary year, what do you think of Malcolm McLaren's son burning "memorabilia" of the era on the Thames as a strike against the heritage industry?

Totally pathetic and very short-sighted. Apart from the fact he could have sold the stuff and given the money to a deserving charity, itís cultural vandalism. However disappointed you might be about what punk has become, these artefacts tell a historical story and they should be preserved. The guy must be an idiot.

2. What are your own memories of the era - funniest story, or biggest thrill?

I mainly remember the excitement in the air and the feeling every night when we played a gig that people were really waiting for it and something momentous was going to happen. Every gig was an event. The biggest thrill for me was going out on stage and seeing all those expectant faces looking at us, and thinking, ďthis is itÖĒ

3. The Adverts split after a year or two - musical differences, or something else?

The main problem was that we were out of step with the way mainstream punk was heading. Our second record had been critically demolished by the press and sales were miniscule. Record companies wouldnít touch us. Band members started getting restless and I was losing and replacing musicians on a regular basis. The whole idea of being in a band just kind of fell apart and didnít make sense any more. I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall and that it was time to leave the Adverts behind and move on to something else.

4. BM's first exposure to your work was probably "Tomahawk Cruise" - what do you remember of making that "lost classic" (in my humble opinion) and was it really about Cruise missiles?

Yes, it was the period when Cruise missiles were being stationed in the UK, despite a wave of popular opinion against them. The government wanted to keep America sweet and let them use Britain as a base, so the UK propaganda machine went into full swing to persuade us that the missiles were a good thing. The were getting such good press that they almost started to feel human, even down to the sexy name ďTomahawk Cruise.Ē I wrote the song as a reminder that the issue wasnít the missiles, it was the men who made the decisions to actually use them. I wanted to record it quickly while the subject was topical - little did I know Cruise missiles would still be around today - and to put it out as the first Explorers single. We didnít have a label or budget, but Tom Newman, who had produced the second Adverts album, agreed to hook up his mobile studio to a rehearsal room and we recorded it there.

5. It is a long time between then and now - what have you been up to?

Itís not really possible to squeeze the last forty years into a few words. Basically, I just kept going. I gradually made the transition from playing with bands to playing solo. I recorded and released my own records, wrote and self-published five books of tour diaries. I organised my own tours, and now Iím playing 130 gigs a year. The key was to find ways to survive as a musician without any support from the music business.

6. BM has noticed quite a lot of European dates in the schedule - do you enjoy playing there, and what is different about these audiences compared to the Brits?

I love playing Europe, particularly Germany. Maybe itís because they were the first to notice that I was still out there after Iíd been having a particularly tough time in Britain in the eighties and couldnít get a gig or record contract to save my life. I started receiving a few invites to play in Germany and found there was a thriving small club scene, very focussed on punk, and they welcomed me with open arms. Mind you, I love playing everywhere, and over the years the UK audiences have gradually started coming back to me. Itís a very rewarding feeling to see the numbers growing.

7. "Clone Town" (2008) is an angry song about identikit town centres - have things got worse since then, or do you see any green shoots of hope in our towns and cities?

Sadly I donít see any signs of change on that front. I think society is splitting into two distinct halves - those who want to become part of the corporate clone world and those that donít. Happily, those that donít are very strong and dedicated people - but they are very much an underground movement so they may not be obvious to the mainstream. Thatís how they survive. The clone town world is all up front and on show and gives the impression that they are in control and that there is no alternative. However, thatís not necessarily the case.

8. Have you had offers to reform the Adverts, or at least play as The Adverts? Are you still in touch with any of them, and if so why?

I havenít had any serious offers and I wouldnít do it anyway. One member has died and the other two original members donít play any more - what would be the point? It would only undermine the reputation of the band. Instead I do occasional gigs with a band from Spain who we call the Bored Teenagers. They love the Adverts songs and play them brilliantly.

9. BM is not aware how often you have played in Scotland in recent years - can you fill us in a bit on this, and what is the reason for visiting in 2016?

Youíve not been paying attention! I come to Scotland regularly - this gig in Glasgow on Saturday will be my fifth visit this year.

10. The traditional last question, where does TV Smith go from here - and what do you enjoy most and least about getting older (nb did not actually say ďold"!)

I turned sixty this year and Iím not the slightest bit embarrassed about it. Life continues to be an adventure I will make the most of whatever comes my way. I intend to keep writing, keep gigging, keep recording as long as I can. My idea of success is simply to keep going.

(BM writes now) - so there you have it, an honest set of answers and also giving BM a row for not paying attention, fair comment, did not know that TV is such a regular visitor - so thankful that he took the time to engage with the questions and probably the best Ten with Betty I have read!

Respect and salutes to TV Smith.
 Betty Mayonnaise

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Agreed - some nice variation from the "usual" questions.


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