[This is part of an ongoing series of excerpts from my conversation with Richard Lloyd in February 2015. For the first installment, click here.]
I mean you get this name, Television. [There was] one point when there was nothing going on and I went to Fred and Billy and said, “Why don’t we put a band together and call it Relevision?” but they were so scared of Tom, that he’d be pissed and that would be the end. It never happened. I’m not scared of him, He’s like a homeless person with a lot of money. He wouldn’t buy luggage to go on tour. He brought plastic bags with his clothes. Dirty clothes, that was his luggage. He had an apartment and I’ve only been like four times in forty years.
I try not to harbor ill will. I’m really happy for Billy and Fred and that they’re able to tour. That rhythm section is really underrated, like god, they are great. I don’t know why Billy’s not in the drummer’s Hall of Fame. I don’t know why Fred isn’t being called by bass player magazine to do lessons. I’m doing lessons for Guitar World. They’re videos plus the actual columns. I like to overload people, I like to leave them so they have nothing to hold onto except the guitar and it impacts on them slowly. I’ll say something and then twenty years later someone will say, “You know, he once said something to me and it changed my life.” Johnny Marr once said that to me. We were in London to do something with Patti Smith and I guess I saw their soundcheck because afterwards I said to Johnny, “You have the voice of an angel.” And he swears he didn’t know who I was but he found out later and it blew his mind because I was one of his idols.
The Replacements had destroyed everything in the dressing room at a hometown show. Garbage on the walls to the ceiling, broken light bulbs, and i just thought…there’s two types of people who play rock n roll. People who play because they don’t wanna grow up, then there’s the kind who play because they haven’t grown up. And man do I try and stay away from them. The Replacements had some component of that, They hadn’t grown up, they’re immature. It’s one thing to have Tho Who. Mature and they destroy their equipment knowing they go into debt but it’s part of your act. Nobody can ask you for an encore after you’ve smashed a guitar and blown up the drums. I mean it’s wonderful. But the replacements were part of the REM, can’t hear the vocals kind of mix. I don’t know why anyone would go for that. I mean certainly on the radio, you hear the vocals first. Record companies always say vocal plus.
Marquee Moon – people never knew who did what. We didn’t want to play live and one of us be on one side and one of us be on the other, and people only hear who they’re in front of. So we always had mono mix so you couldn’t hear who was doing what. Mostly tom did rhythm and I did all the other parts. So on Marquee Moon I’m playing like, 60% of the guitar on that record, or more, because all of the intricacies are done by me. That’s the only television record as far as I’m concerned. After that the Capital record has some good things. I mean, I used to love playing those songs. I’m very proud that I wrote something that anyone else can’t play.
I still wanna do a half acoustic, half electric record. I really have exciting things happening. Terry Ork was the manager of Television, Little Johnny Jewel was released on Ork Records. That’s going to be in the package, [along with] my Rolling Stones cover of “Get Off My Cloud.” Another one with Chris Stamey covering a song I wrote. [It will have] his version, my version and a reggae song I wrote. Keith Richards couldn’t learn the bass part of the chorus. There was a girl who said, “I’ve never seen that,” and I go “What?” and she says, “You told Keith what to do, and he did it.” Being friends with Keith was too dangerous. He’s in the eye of the hurricane, everyone else gets hit by the storm wall. It’s hard to be a friend of his. He was on the next to die list so long the list died. Then a couple years ago he killed a coconut with his head. He also had hepatitis and got over it. Last thing he said to me was, “I’ll write all your epitaphs.”
[One time] Keith said, “I’m going to Jamaica later, wanna come along?” and I said, “I don’t have my passport, I don’t think I could get it in time, plus I don’t have money.” And I was like, “I think i’m gonna stay.” And I stayed with Keith’s mother and [his son] for the weekend. It was much better to stay there than go with Keith to Jamaica and probably get shot.
Catch Richard Lloyd with New York Junk and Faith October 30 at the Bowery Electric.