Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – American Television

Artwork for ‘Scars.’ Courtesy of Part Time PR.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Armed with a tight sound and loose-lipped lyricism, angsty punksters American Television have strongly delivered their message amidst a climate of political turmoil within the very shadow of the nation’s capital itself.

As they’ve emerged in popularity across the scene on the backend of 2020’s ‘Watch It Burn’ (Wiretap Records) and a highly-praised cover of Operation Ivy’s “Officer,” they’ve used their status to help get other acts in the door too and have launched festivals like Breakin’ Even Fest and Staycation.

Through their commitments and uprising, they’ve managed to share stages with other established acts such as Spanish Love Songs, Direct Hit!, Iron Chic, MakeWar, The Copyrights and Piebald.

Most recently, the group delivered their sophomore effort ‘Scars’ via SmartPunk Records, regarded for singles like the anti-corporate anthem “Bittersweet,” complete with an “Office Space”-inspired music video.

Lead guitarist/backing vocalist Jerred Lazar has since departed AMTV after six years due to a relocation and played the ‘Scars’ release show as his last. New guitarist Chris Thompson was introduced via the band’s social media and has stepped in and didn’t miss a beat, as AMTV finishes out the year with a string of shows.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Lazar, Thompson and guitarist/vocalist Steve Rovery about how they’d compare ‘Scars’ to ‘Watch It Burn,’ what it was like making the “Bittersweet” music video and much more, which you can check out below.

Music Bugle – How did you decide on the name “American Television”? 

Steve Rovery – We started the band in 2013. TikTok didn’t exist and we had no inclination of a Trump presidency, but we felt like reality TV was giving the wrong people a platform by glamorizing greed, poor conduct and stupidity. It was a snapshot of the worst of modern America, it was “American Television.” We can’t say much has changed, but the name seems to have taken on more relevance as these kinds of folks are finding themselves in positions of power.

Music Bugle – What has been your favorite moment while onstage?

Steve Rovery – It was our first show back after lockdown and we were playing an all-ages show. There was a kid who was going off to every band. We got a chance to talk with him after our set. He said it was his first show. He had heard of DC’s significance in the history of punk rock, but just assumed the days were long gone. He was living his best life.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Washington D.C. to someone who has never been there before?

Jerred Lazar – It’s a tough nut to crack, but there are some amazing bands and incredible people behind a hard exterior. It seems to be overshadowed by business and politics, but there’s beauty to be found if you know where to look and home is where the heart is. Ask a punk…

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

Jerred Lazar – The brutal honesty, inclusivity and camaraderie. Oh and Orange Amplifiers.

Music Bugle – How would you compare your new album ‘Scars’ to that of 2020’s ‘Watch It Burn’?

Jerred Lazar – I think the songs on ‘Scars’ showcase the natural evolution of our songwriting and solidified our sound as a band. It’s more personal on a lyrical level. The angst is still there, but there’s a little more introspection, a sneak peek inside our souls. It was also really fucking fun to make. Working with Ben Green at Ivakota was the best time I’ve had inside a studio.

Music Bugle – What was it like making the “Bittersweet” music video?

Steve Rovery – Making “Bittersweet” was a ton of fun. We wanted to do a video that had a story and wasn’t focused on us. Our friend Mike has always helped us coordinate the locations, actors, order of the shoot, etc.. This time, he left that to me and he focused on the camera and editing, so I guess I can add video producer to my resumé. The actors were also excited to be part of something with humor, they had fun improvising gestures and faces knowing that music would ultimately placed on top of it. We’re so happy with the end product. It may be one of our best videos yet!

Music Bugle – How would you sum up the year 2023 in terms of U.S. politics?

Jerred Lazar – Another year, another dumpster fire. It’s like we’re circling the drain and the tub is almost empty.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Steve Rovery – Samiam, Against Me! and The Iron Roses.

Jerred Lazar – The Brokedowns, New Junk City, Mercy Music, The Kimberly Steaks, Braceface, Vacation, The Raging Nathans and Pity Party.

Chris Thompson – Downstater, Bridge The Gap, Paperback Tragedy, Trashed Ambulance, The Swellers, Iron Chic, MxPx, The Decline and Celebration Summer.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?

Steve Rovery – It’s a tool to promote your art. If you’re changing your art or how you release it to comply with an algorithm, it’s robbing little bits of your creativity. It’s also a direct line to the people who engage with your band, so it’s hard to ignore it. I will say, it’s more exciting and engaging to hand someone a flier and watch them get excited – or throw it in a trash can, instead of letting a platform decide if they even see it.

Music Bugle – How important is mental health in the music industry?

Chris Thompson – Mental health in music is as important as it is in any other aspect of your life. You need to take care of yourself before you can be any good to others. Bands work the same way. They’re like a family and when one person suffers, everyone else feels the impact. Those impacts can be the catalyst to the end of something that brings you joy; a band, friendship, a job and even love. Once experience builds and you gain some perspective, you learn to recognize positive and negative behavior in yourself and in others. Once you have that understanding, your choices get easier and your reactions get more calculated. Ask for help when you need it. People care and want you to be well. Be mindful of others, take care of yourself and don’t forget to have a little fun every day.

*Photo Credit – Miranda Jayne*


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