There’s a new band in Detroit and soon fans the world over will be able to tune in to the music of Television City. The brainchild of veteran Michigan musician Brian Raleigh (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Television City will release their self-titled debut on April 27. Raleigh recruited members of Porchsleeper, Betty Cooper and Crooked Little Reasons for his new group, and the roots rock outfit is rounded out with guitarist Garret Bielaniec, bassist Kristin VonBernthal, keys and pedal steel man Dave Feeny and drummer Jim Faulkner.
We had a chance to chat by email with Raleigh, and one of the things he talked about was how difficult it is to succeed in the music business. With “Brenda Lived by the Lake,” the first single from Television City already garnering rave reviews, that’s something he doesn’t need to worry about right now. Raleigh’s commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.
AXS: The press release for Television City’s upcoming self-titled album mentions that you know the odds when it comes to playing rock ‘n’ roll as a career, and for most, they’re not so good. Having worked with various bands over a good period of time, you must have felt like throwing in the towel occasionally. What keeps you going?
Brian Raleigh: I think every record I make is probably going to be my last. If you're doing it right, it is a mentally and emotionally exhaustive process. This is actually my first record in almost 10 years and it's not exactly the best time to be getting back into the rock ‘n’ roll business. But the songs came and the band came together. My hands were tied, I had to make one more record! That said, I feel like this record is my 'hail Mary.’ If we come down with the ball in the end zone, we'll sneak into the playoffs and maybe make another record. If we don't, well, we had a helluva season and I'm proud of the team.
AXS: Amusingly, the Pure Michigan state tourism information website says about Engadine, “We don’t have any fun facts for this little treasure, we’re counting on you to go exploring and relate back to us.” You did better than that; you wrote a song about the small town. What about the place inspired you to write “Engadine.”
BR: That tourism blurb is actually pretty right on the nose. Engadine is a tiny town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I'm not sure they even have a post office. It's not too far from where my family has a cabin on Lake Michigan. I think that the U.P. is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I, however, have the freedom to leave whenever I want to. Many people who live up there year round do not. It's beautiful but it's also very isolating up there, especially in the winter. Some folks are cut out for that kind of isolation, others are not. And that's basically what that song is about.
AXS: “Vince Neil and Stan Van Gundy” sounds like something that Neil Young might do, and the song also includes a couple lines from Young’s “Helpless.” Is the song an homage to Young, or are we just hearing things?
BR: Yeah, I'm a huge Neil fan, obviously, and I've often had a fantasy of replacing Frank 'Poncho' Sampedro in Crazy Horse. I figured this was about as close as I was ever going to get. So we broke out the fuzz pedals and let it rip. I would also like to point out that the only guitar solo I play on the album is the one at the end of that song and I did it in one take. So yeah, I'm pretty much ready to join Crazy Horse!
AXS: Television City is being released on vinyl. Do you enjoy listening to music on vinyl yourself, and do you have a deep collection?
BR: I do love vinyl. I feel like vinyl forces the listener to actually listen to a record, whereas now if I have Spotify or whatever on, I don't have to interact with it at all and it essentially becomes background noise. I like to sit down and read the lyrics or the liner notes as a record plays and think about the recording, the mix, the production, the stories being told, etc. I'm a big nerd. I don't know that I have a deep collection relative to a lot of folks I've seen but it's diverse. Everything from Glen Campbell to UFO is in there. A couple of my favorites are a first pressing of the Replacements Let It Be on Twin/Tone and an original Australian pressing of AC/DC's Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. I also have some cool old Bob Seger stuff that has been out of print for a long time.
AXS: Tell us a little about your plans around the Television City release.
BR: We’re going to celebrate the record with a big release show at the Lager House in Detroit on May 19th with our friends Chris Richards and the Subtractions who will be celebrating the release of their new record as well. After that, we are going to play to anybody that will have us. We can't wait to get out there and see some old friends, meet some new ones, and spill beer all over each other.
Follow Television City here.