“Tom Verlaine and Television were for me the most inspiring: They were not glamorous, they were human.”
– Patti Smith in a recent interview for New York magazine
An accurate description of Tom Verlaine’s career would read much like a thesaurus entry for influential. He has truly shaped the sound of modern music, from his early days with the Neon Boys and Television, throughout his solo career, and most recently as the guitarist in Patti Smith’s band. Always ahead of the curve, Tom’s influence is immeasurable throughout the rock world with bands as diverse as The Strokes and Dos claiming him as an influence. No one, however, has been able to replicate his sounds, from delicate lace-like details to soaring and singling lines. It’s hard to describe without a slew of superlatives.
Anyhow, Tom would much rather talk about the new stuff. Thrill Jockey’s simultaneous release of around and songs and other things are the first new releases by Tom Verlaine since Warm and Cool in 1992. songs and other things is Tom Verlaine’s first vocal release since The Wonder in 1990. The return of his cool vibrato weaving in and out of his guitar lines is exciting. For this new vocal release, Verlaine recorded with a variety of friends including Television bassist Fred Smith. He wrote all the songs, played all the guitars and even spent some time on bass.
Songs and other things finds Verlaine’s songwriting at its most colorful. According to Tom, “Lovebird Asylum Seeker” got its inspiration from a “picture of some friendly insects walking across a dusty desk and spelling out letters.” The opening track is an instrumental, “like an introduction; what you hear at the beginning of a movie.” For Verlaine, the songwriting process is natural, with ebbs and flows that he makes sure not to force. “Sometimes you write a song in twenty minutes,” Verlaine says, while sometimes a song “looking to be agonized over never makes it to the studio.” With 25 years in between this and Verlaine’s last vocal record, he has a lot of storytelling to catch up on, which makes every track here a true gem.
In the past year Tom has been touring with Patti Smith and playing select shows with Television. He is putting together a band that he will debut in his beloved hometown of New York City in late April/early May. He will be embarking on a world tour this spring, his first in over a decade.