Richard Lloyd talks the way he plays guitar, veering from peak to peak with poetry, humor and an edge that verges on anger. If discussing religion is bad form, nobody told him.
“I always say, you wanna know God?” he says, speaking last week from his Manhattan apartment. “Then make really good friends with the devil, because the two of them are in cahoots.”
If you go see his trio play next Wednesday at Radio Radio, don’t expect to hear warm recollections of his days in the ’70s New York band Television. He’s proud the group is still considered a pillar of one of rock’s most influential scenes, but he’s annoyed that they didn’t have more commercial success, and he lays the responsibility on his former six-string dueling partner, Television frontman Tom Verlaine.
“Everybody else that opened for us is in the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame,” Lloyd says, presumably referring to folks like Talking Heads and Blondie. “We’re not, because of him, because of his utter contempt and refusal to work. Tommy Mottola [later to be chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment] wanted to manage us when he was managing Hall and Oates, and Tom turned him down, and I was so pissed off, I said … ‘What’s your problem, Tom?’ He says, ‘I don’t want to end up playing in Las Vegas.’”
Lloyd, also known for his ’90s work with Matthew Sweet, is no longer interested in Television reunions, which occurred briefly in each of the past two decades. But he’s happy with his life, which nowadays centers on his schoolteacher wife of 20 years and their teenage son.
He also feels well-treated by his current label, the indie imprint Parasol, which last year released a remastered double-disc set of his 1987 solo album Fields of Fire, as well as his first collection of new music in seven years, Radiant Monkey.
Lloyd is touring with bassist Keith Hartel (of the New Jersey power-pop band True Love) and original Television drummer Billy Ficca (also Neon Boys, Waitresses). They are known collectively as the SufiMonkey Trio, and the core of their repertoire is the gritty rock of Radiant Monkey, which carries hints of the Stones and Lou Reed. Also expect a few tunes from Lloyd’s next album project, which interestingly enough is a tribute to Jimi Hendrix.
In the grand history of pop music, Lloyd’s punk contemporaries are typically seen as iconoclasts who rejected the pretensions and conventions of classic rock. Now, however, he is happy to embrace his influences, and Hendrix is a big one.
As Lloyd tells it, he was a teen growing up in late ’60s New York when he met Velvert Turner, a Brooklyn kid who knew Hendrix and years later released a Hendrix sound-alike album as the Velvert Turner Group, eventually leaving music and passing away in 2000.
“We became best friends, and he used to take guitar lessons from Jimi on 12th Street in his apartment,” Lloyd says. “They used a giant mirror, because Jimi’s lefty and Velvert’s right-handed. … Velvert asked for permission to show me what Jimi was teaching him, and he said, ‘Fine, man, that’s your best friend, go ahead and tell him, show him.’ So Velvert used to leave Jimi’s house and come over to my house, and we would practice together.”
Scheduled for release in February, the album will be titled The Jamie Neverts Story, a reference to the code name the two teens used to keep friends from tagging along when they went to see the guitar master.
“I owe a lot to Hendrix, and I always hid that influence,” Lloyd says. “I once told Tom Verlaine that I knew Jimi Hendrix, and he laughed at me. Nobody would believe it, so why should I tell anybody? In Television, I never played like Jimi’s style, but I knew it. … My goal in doing the album is to pay a debt, to Jimi and to Velvert, because they were both friends of mine.”
WHAT: Richard Lloyd with the Rosebuds and Megafaun
WHERE: Radio Radio, 1119 Prospect St.
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 12, 9 p.m., $8/$10, 21+
For a video clip and extended interview excerpts, visit nuvo.net/music.