“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. Around continues where Warm and Cool left off, using many of the same musicians. Former Neon Boy Billy Ficca’s drumming shares the spotlight with Verlaine’s guitar, whose varied tones move effortlessly from melody to rhythm and are at once panoramic, pastoral and atmospheric. The influence of Verlaine’s love of jazz saxophone is manifested in sustained single-note melodies and his expert finesse is rousing.
Around is a largely improvised record. “The recording style is: get the mics set and start recording,” Verlaine says, “edit the mistakes and erase the stuff you don’t like.” This freewheeling style allows the raw talents of Verlaine, Ficca and Derivaz to shine through, while showcasing the cohesion of a trio that’s been playing together for years. Verlaine calls them “intuitive musicians”.
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.