Tom Verlaine

Press Release[Mon 11 Oct 99]

Tom Verlaine: Music for Film

"Tom plays guitar like a thousand bluebirds screaming." -Patti Smith

Innovative and influential musician Tom Verlaine will perform his newly written scores in accompaniment to an exemplary collection of avant-garde filmmaking from America and Europe. The scores have been co-commissioned by The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio and Tim Lanza of the Douris Corporation through a grant from the Ohio Arts Council and have been written for films by Man Ray, Fernand Leger, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Dimitri Kirsanoff and collaborative works by Slavko Vorkapich and Robert Florey and the early American experimental filmmakers James Watson and Melville Webber.

Tom Verlaine will perform the scores live while the films are being projected. His scores have been written for electric guitar and he will be joined by a second guitarist for the performance. Each film and accompanying score runs between 10 and 13 minutes, for a total of 80 minutes.

The Film Program

Verlaine is a critically acclaimed composer and instrumentalist whose main instrument is the electric guitar. He was the guiding force behind the band Television who, along with such outfits as The Patti Smith Group and The Talking Heads, ushered in a new era of independent American pop music. His recorded output between 1975 and 1992 has consistently earned him critical praise from the music press and community in the United States and abroad. His seven solo recordings have received favorable reviews and his 1992 instrumental record Warm and Cool (Rykodisc) won him the New York Music Award for Best Rock Instrumentalist. After a few years of relative inactivity, Richard Cromelin, in a 1996 article for the Los Angeles Times, hailed Verlaine's reappearance on the music scene as "the return of a visionary artist with his creativity and energy undimmed." A second instrumental record is due out by the end of 1999.

"Tom Verlaine: Music for Film" will debut at St. Ann's in Brooklyn, NY on October 15, 1999.

Tom Verlaine Resume/Bio [Mon 11 Oct 99]:

Famed for his trailblazing work as the singer and guitarist for the seminal New York band Television, Tom Verlaine also carved out an acclaimed and eclectic solo career. Trained as a classical pianist, he gravitated toward rock music in the late '60's, moving to New York's Lower East Side to form Television. Beginning with their landmark 1975 debut single, Television became one of the most renowned groups of the burgeoning New York underground music scene; though lumped together with the punk phenomenon, the band's complex songcraft--powered by Verlaine's finely honed guitar work--clearly set them apart from their peers. Television's debut album Marquee Moon (1977) and the follow-up Adventure (1978) caused a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. The debut album made scores of Top Ten lists and Verlaine was cited in many guitar polls. The band went their separate ways in 1978.

Verlaine resurfaced in 1979 with a self-titled debut which featured the song "Kingdom Come", later covered by avowed fan David Bowie. 1981's dense Dreamtime, which Rolling Stone, in a four-star review, called "a veritable monsoon of guitar playing", garnered significant acclaim, earning a place on the U.S. album charts. Both 1982's diverse Words From The Front and 1984's Cover, drew rave reviews from the British Press. After a three year hiatus, he returned with Flashlight, regarded as one of his best solo efforts. Following Verlaine's 1990's record The Wonder, Television briefly reformed for a self-titled album and tour. In 1992, Verlaine scored the film LOVE AND A .45 and issued his first instrumental LP, Warm and Cool. A second instrumental record is due for release in 1999.

As Richard Cromelin states in a 1996 Los Angeles Times article "...Verlaine brings a poetic sensibility to the rock aesthetic...(an) introspective, rarefied approach, and it inevitably leads to the moments when only his guitar-led instrumental exploration will capture the emotional essence he's after."

Discography [Mon 11 Oct 99]

As Television: 1975 Little Johnny Jewel (Orb) 1977 Marquee Moon (Elektra) 1978 Adventure (Elektra) 1992 Television (Capitol) Solo Releases: 1979 Tom Verlaine (Elektra) 1981 Dreamtime (Warner Brothers) 1982 Words From The Front (Warner Brothers) 1984 Cover (Warner Brothers) 1986 Flashlight (Phonogram) 1989 The Wonder (Phonogram) 1992 Warm and Cool (Rykodisc)

Awards: 1992 New York Music Award: Best Rock Instrumentalist

Soundtracks: 1986 Something To Look Forward To (Munich) 1993 Love and a .45

Other Recording Artists who have Covered Verlaine's Songs include David Bowie, Kronos Quartet, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Siouxie and the Banshees.

[w/ assistance from Douglas Penn]

Like a musical Big Bang, the creative energy released by the vibrant New York club scene of the late '70s is still being felt today. One of the most explosive and influential artists of that period was guitarist/songwriter Tom Verlaine. In his seminal band Television, and later as a solo artist, Verlaine is known for his stinging guitar work, and moody and wildly conflicting lyrics.

Verlaine got his start in music during the mid 70s, when he befriended drummer Billy Ficca and bassist Richard Hell. With the addition of Richard Lloyd on guitar, the four formed Television in 1972. Hell was replaced by Fred Smith in 1974, and the band's best-known and only recording line-up was secure. They became a fixture at the celebrated New York club CBGB's, making countless fans, like Patti Smith, who praised Tom in interviews and had him play guitar on her classic singles, "Hey Joe" and "Break It Up" which Tom co-wrote. Television's debut album, Marquee Moon (1977) and follow-up Adventure (1978) caused a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. The debut album made scores of Top Ten lists in 1978 and Verlaine was cited in many guitar polls. They went their separate ways in 1978, with Tom's self-titled debut album released the following year. After a 14 year absence, the band reformed in 1992 and released Television on Capitol Records.

Verlaine has eight solo records out, including Dreamtime, which Rolling Stone, in a four-star review, called "a veritable monsoon of guitar playing."

A recent article:

[from "Verlaine Returns to Write His Own Rules," by Richard Cromelin, The Los Angeles Times, May 15, 1996]

Like its spiritual forebear, the Velvet Underground, the New York band Television was vastly more influential than the brevity and low commercial showing of its recording career would suggest.

The group demonstrated that high artistic aspirations could be bonded with a fundamental rock approach, and its exalted guitar interplay echoes today in the instrument's primacy in alternative rock. Television also keyed New York's mid-'70s musical uprising, which produced such forces as Patti Smith, the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie. But while those acts rode the band's wave to fame and fortune, Television broke up in 1978 after two albums.

Leader Tom Verlaine—despite eight subsequent solo records and a brief Television reunion in 1992—has remained elusive, but the singer-guitarist's profile began to rise recently when he hooked up with Smith, whose return to concerts and recording has benefited from his distinctive contributions.

Verlaine took advantage of the Smith connection Monday at the Viper Room, playing an exceedingly rare show of his own with the backing of two Smith bandmates, drummer Jay Dee Daugherty and bassist Tony Shanahan, and with occasional colleague Jimmy Rip on second guitar.

Verlaine is a pure free agent these days, and he approached his show as someone with nothing to sell, no script to stick to, no agenda beyond stretching out. He pretty much ignored the signature songs whose riffs would have guaranteed roars of recognition, instead addressing fans drawn to his improvisational powers and his pursuit of mystery and possibility.

Like Smith, Verlaine brings a poetic sensibility to the rock aesthetic, but his is a more introspective, rarefied approach, and it inevitably leads to the moments when only his guitar-led instrumental explorations will capture the emotional essence he's after.

On Monday, Verlaine—cutting much the same gaunt, ascetic figure he did in the early years—offered everything from choppy shuffles to rhapsodic ballads, garage-band stomp to meditations that emerged like ghosts from his deliberate tuning-up interludes.

One such exploration flowered into a long raga-like solo that culminated in the taut, interlocking patterns of "Marquee Moon," the title song of the first Television album. It was nice to arrive at familiar terrain, but the evening's real rewards had already come, with the return of a visionary artist with his creativity and energy undimmed.

Some links:

interview in Jan. '96 Boston Phoenix

website devoted to Television

a short write-up

comments on 1992's Warm and Cool album

another short write-up

discography for Television

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