While his more-celebrated bandmate may cringe at the statement, Television guitarist Jimmy Rip said he has no qualms with how often the legendary band’s sound has been copped in recent years.
“You know, Tom would probably hate me saying this, but thank god so many of those young bands have ripped us off,” said Rip, a longtime session guitarist who officially joined the group in 2007. “It seems like every 10 years or so, a whole new batch of fans are introduced to Television because we’re so commonly cited as an influence. I think that’s a good thing. It reminds people how great this band is.”
The “Tom,” that Rip is referring to in the previous quote is Tom Verlaine, the seminal figure who founded Television back in 1973, when the band first began its legendary association with the CBGBs bar in New York City.
Verlaine is a notoriously private person, which may explain why Television has been an infrequent live presence since the group reformed back in 1992 (although they have scheduled increasingly more shows in recent times.) Television played at the Independent in San Francisco in 2013, and will make another stop in the city on June 30, when they take the stage at the Fillmore.
Rip, who has performed alongside Verlaine for 34 years, primarily as part of the backing band for the singer/guitarist’s solo work, said he’s looking forward to the appearance at the Fillmore, a venue he has never played at, despite having a longstanding friendship with Bill Graham, the founder of the concert hall who died in a 1991 helicopter accident.
“I’ve seen some amazing shows here, and I’ve had some great talks with Bill,” said Rip, who has resided in Argentina since 2009, after finding tremendous success there as a touring artist. “So when we get on that stage, it’s probably going to be pretty emotional for me.”
Rip said he expects the band to perform “six or seven” of the eight songs on Marquee Moon, Television’s masterpiece album from 1978 that regularly lands on the list of greatest recordings of all time. Due to reverence for that release, Rip said he rarely strays from the style and manner in which the Marquee Moon songs were recorded. Rip said he knows how much fans respect and admire the chemistry between Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, the band’s founding guitarist who left in 2007 due to health issues.
“I’ve played with Tom for so long, and during his solo tours we would perform a lot of songs off Marquee Moon,” said Rip, who is recording his second album in Argentina as Jimmy Rip and the Trip, a three-piece band that is beloved in his adopted home country. “So I know the material really well. But I also know how much people loved Richard and his style of play, so I don’t deviate too much, although I will go a little off-script for the solos, since even he did that.”
Along with the material from Marquee Moon, Rip said the band will play a few songs off Television’s two other studio albums (1978’s Adventure and 1992’s self-titled), along with some newer material that was recorded in 2007. Rip said he’s waiting patiently to see if those recent cuts will actually become part of a new album, something that Verlaine has hinted at in the past.
“You know, I’ve kind of quit asking the question about those new songs awhile ago,” said Rip. “Tom said he’s ‘still experimenting in the lab.’ When and if he’s ready for those songs to be recorded, we’ll be ready to play them.”
Despite his lengthy career in the industry, playing with everyone from Mick Jagger to Mariah Carey, Rip said he still gets amazed at the music that Verlaine is able to produce.
“I look at his hands and how he’s playing his guitar and I can’t grasp at how those notes make the sounds they do,” said Rip. “The only person that ever compares to him musically is Jeff Beck, in my opinion.”
Despite his reclusiveness, Rip said that Verlaine has a great sense of humor, and he calls him a “true eccentric.”
“I’ve been around a lot of rock stars who try and act like a weirdo,” said Rip. “There is no act with Tom. He always keeps it interesting. I’m sure the folks at the Fillmore will be treated to a great show.”
June 30, 2015
8:00pm, $30 (plus fees)