Television Man plays Steam Press Cafe in rare Lafayette appearance
Television Man isn’t in it to win it. Existing essentially as a weekend project of Patrick Robichaux, Byrnes Tatford and Jeff Lovvorn, the three-piece is focused more on having fun and making music than trying to sell out Madison Square Garden.
In this way, Television Man exists purely for the music and eschews the heat-seeker baggage of trying to establish themselves in a big way. Somehow, this makes sense. Isolating the music into a pure heroin nugget that depends less on public perception (though that is important to the band) than on making good music. Television Man’s lack of concern with the future isn’t so much a no-strings-attached approach as it is a less-strings-attached stroll through 40 years of alternative garage rock.
“If I was doing this seriously, I would end up hating it,” said Robichaux. This emotion is seconded by Tatford, who is a full-time physical therapist, father and brewer. Lovvorn does pizza delivery for BJ’s Pizza & Deli. Robichaux lives in Baton Rouge, where he is an oceanography and marine geology graduate student at Louisiana State University.
The lack of seriousness with which the band takes itself does not reflect on their music, which is earnest but tempered with a sense of disaffection for pop-rock pretense. Delicately dressed in reverb, Robichaux’s guitar crashes over Lovvorn and Tatford’s solid rhythmic foundation: a shock of cold water on a hot chest.
Television Man band shares its name with the song from the Talking Heads’ “Little Creatures”, a reference that Robichaux said not many people get. As indicated by the name, the band reaps influence from post-punk and new wave acts like Pavement and Talking Heads, as well, more explicitly 90s alt-rock in the vein of Dinosaur Jr. and Yo La Tengo.
The band has its origins in the sandy debris of a beachy indie-rock band called Good Vibes, in which they all played. When Good Vibes broke up in 2012, the future TV men took some time off, pursuing other interests. A year later, Robichaux called up Tatford and Good Vibes drummer Matt Mick, saying he had some song ideas. That was Television Man. Last year, ex-Good Vibes guitarist Lovvorn took Mick’s place as drummer, establishing the current lineup.
In a local scene that is inclined so heavily towards roots music and singer-songwriters, there is a small-yet-undeniable presence of alternative, punk and metal bands that have formed a kind of niche scene-within-a-scene in the area. Robichaux pointed to the Lafayette DIY punk scenes that emerged in the ‘80s and ‘90s as the root of this ethos. With influences firmly planted in the heyday of post-punk alt-rock, there’s an easy case to be made for the three-piece as inhabitants of the “dad-rock” genre.
“I was actually just thinking about this,” said Lovvorn. “TV Man is the soft mom-rock version of the music I play with Neat. I have a whole classification system. You’ve got dad-rock, dad-wave, dad-core, mom-wave, mom-core. And TV Man is mom-wave. If there’s ever gonna be a Dan Fogelberg cover in Lafayette, it’ll be from us.”
With the small size of their particular niche it can sometimes seem redundant to book too many shows. “You’ve seen the same line-up over the last three years,” said Lovvorn. “TV Man, Rad Wagon, Neat. TV Man, Rad Wagon, The Cavemen. There’s almost no reason to put out a show like that, when you’ve seen the same line-up a hundred times. The scene isn’t big enough. Yet.”
Television Man could be the biggest band in Lafayette, but that might take the fun out of it.