I met up with John Eatherly (Vocals/Guitars) and Xan Aird (Guitars) of Public Access TV right outside John’s apartment in the East Village area of NYC. We figured we’d take care of the interview first before taking some photos so we walked over to a local coffee shop. It was crowded in there so they suggested a nearby diner. John was mentioning his day so far dealing with a massive leak that was dripping down into his apartment from above. He had placed a garbage can beneath it but was glad he was home to notice right away. In this Public Access TV interview, John and Xan talk about their gear (or the lack thereof), the state of the NYC dating scene and how they maintain a friendship while doing business.
SONIC HIGHLARK: So, do you guys actually watch… TV? (laughing)
JOHN EATHERLY (PUBLIC ACCESS TV): None of us even have a TV.
SONIC: No TV? What about Netflix or something?
JOHN: Kind of, but not really. I don’t really watch TV at all.
XAN AIRD (PUBLIC ACCESS TV): Our apartment burned down and my computer melted in the apartment. So I don’t have Netflix anymore.
SONIC: Ohh that’s right, any good movies then?
JOHN: Yeah, I love movies. The last movie I saw in theaters was I think this.. Swedish movie? Called Goodnight Mommy, it’s kind of a horror story where these kids tie up their mother and torture her.
SONIC: Whaat? How did you find out about that?
JOHN: I was just checking what was out and went to see it. It was at Angelika, but yeah it was pretty crazy. It just seemed like an interesting horror movie and not an awful one.
SONIC: It does sound interesting. Was it gory or not so much?
JOHN:The shit that were gory in it was hard to watch.
SONIC: Was it Guillermo Del Toro ish?
JOHN:Um no, or maybe, because what’s that movie he did with the tooth fairy and they pull the teeth out? That shit’s fucked up. There was like the sewing your mouth type of stuff.
SONIC: What about you Xan?
XAN: I saw the new OG, not old but this new film maker, the main dude of our generation, this French-Canadian guy Xavier Dolan… I saw his movie Mommy.
SONIC: Another Mommy movie. What was it about?
XAN: Yeah, it was the last brilliant film I have seen. He’s only like 25 or so. It was just out of control good. It’s set in Canada, it starts with this kid and his mom picking him up from juvie because they couldn’t take him anymore.
JOHN: Juvie can’t take him anymore?
XAN: Yeah. They’re like fuck this.
JOHN: Too crazy for juvie?
XAN: They just can’t take him anymore because he’s too crazy.
SONIC: That’s a great song title.
XAN: Yeah! Too crazy for juvie. That’s a record title. Anyway, it’s about the mother and her son. It’s a little edible but you’ll be hearing about this guy and it was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.
SONIC: I grew up during the album era, but I also get the idea behind the ‘keep pumping singles out’ method. What do you guys think of that?
JOHN:I grew up with the album in mind too.
XAN:We’re album guys.
JOHN: I mean right now we are track listing our songs but the way I think about it is like “Side A” then you flip the record to “Side B.” As far as putting out music we are very much looking forward to our record, but I’m also all about whatever the new way is. All of it is putting out material so I’m not attached to any method. When people say “Oh, why haven’t you guys done a record yet?” I feel like that’s stupid because we have put out quite a bit of music and it hasn’t been that long since we’ve been a band.
SONIC: Yeah, you guys have an EP and a bunch of singles so.
JOHN: Yeah, there’s a bunch of shit out there. There’s some shit that’s only out in the UK. Then there’s an EP and 3 singles that are available everywhere I think? I know there are some… legalities with some stuff that’s only in the UK but…
XAN: It’s not hard to understand, it’s like a writer. A writer writes a few short stories, a novella and they warm up for the fucking big thing which is the novel. So we’ve been warming up for the fucking big work you know?
JOHN: Still feels like the album is the big work, the main event.
SONIC: You guys live really close to Rivington Guitars, do you get a lot of your gear there?
JOHN: We’ve bought and sold quite a bit of gear there.
XAN: Yeah, Rivington is out spot. Howie is our dude.
SONIC: How often do you pick up a new guitar for example?
XAN: I’ve only bought one guitar in my life, the first guitar that I owned. The guitar that I play now doesn’t belong to me.
JOHN: Yeah my guitar is just a hand me down.
XAN: When we got our advance we both got guitars but then we sold them. I mean it was a cool guitar but..
JOHN:It was fun to just buy a guitar, but then we sold it pretty quickly.
XAN: It taught me that it’s not about how expensive or fancy it is. I prefer my shitty Fender because I like how it feels.
SONIC: Well, it’s not necessarily a shitty guitar.
XAN: Yeah, but from a collector’s standpoint or a banker’s standpoint, yeah, it’s a piece of shit. But it’s got something, a feel, some history.
JOHN: And you’ve played it the longest. When you play something for that long it just becomes yours. There’s some magic.
SONIC: Wait, what do you mean the guitar doesn’t belong to you?
XAN: I took it from somebody, well, I stole it.
SONIC: (laughing) Do they know?
XAN: Yeah, he knows.
SONIC: I’m sure he doesn’t mind. What is he going to say to you? You’re a rockstar.
XAN: I don’t invite him to our shows anymore, but yeah, he knows.
SONIC: So you guys are pretty tight with your manager Ben (Goldstein) right? How do you balance out being friends and the business side?
XAN:That’s a very good question.
JOHN:Haha, wow. It can be challenging but since we’re best friends I think we definitely have learned how to argue and fight more tactically than we used to, I think. It’s good because if I’m working a lot or he’s working a lot there always this competition, I mean not a competition but it’s this thing where if I’m working hard, you should be working hard and he’s just as invested as I am.
XAN: He’s also not a dude that’s in an office in Midtown. This is his life. He has one band and his future is tied in with our future. We’ll all in it together and his essentially a part of the band. I’d like to compare it to Ryan Gentles and The Strokes in the early 2000s, he quit his job at the Mercury Lounge and put his entire future in the band because he believed in them. It’s the exact same thing.
SONIC: Right, so you guys know him from before?
JOHN: I know him since I was 16. I moved to New York and he moved a month or two later in 2008. I was touring in St. Louis with Be Your Own Pet and his band was opening for us. We just clicked and have been friends since and eventually molded him into the great manager that he is (laughs).
XAN: He learned under fire for sure.
SONIC: That’s sometimes the best way.
JOHN: We’re so fortunate, if we had a manager that had a bunch of other bands, they don’t care as much about you. It’s so valuable to have someone invested just a much.
SONIC: The role of the label has changed through the years, what do you guys think about that whole situation?
JOHN:I mean if you are lucky enough to be in a situation on a label where you have a lot of control and you can kind of do what you want, nowadays I think you get out what you put in. I think some people expect that if they’re signed to a certain label that’s it, that’s all you need and they’re going to do everything for you but it doesn’t work that way. Maybe it works that way if you’re like a puppet band like No Direction or something where everything is done for you.
XAN: (laughing) One Direction, No Direction.
JOHN:No Direction? We’ve had a few label experiences so far and we’re on a new label now and its 100 times different than our last label. Our last label didn’t understand what we wanted it to be. I don’t even think they had their own idea, but we were pretty locked in to not being able to do what we wanted to do creatively whether it was how a song sounded or how we wanted the artwork to look. Now we’re with a label that’s more trusting of what we think is cool, so it works.
XAN:For instance last night we watched the Super Bowl with the head of our label and few other artists at someone’s house. We kick it, you know?
JOHN:Yeah it was chill.
XAN: It’s not like we have to have a business meeting or something.
JOHN: With the old label they probably only thought about us when they saw our name in an email in front of them but forget about us when they left the office.
XAN:We want people to lose some fucking sleep over us.
JOHN: With the new label now I’ll get texts at 3am and it’ll be like “What do you think about this idea?” And I’m just like “I don’t know, it’s really early right now.” But it’s great that everybody is thinking about the band.
SONIC: Any nerdy or geeky tendencies you guys have?
XAN: I get made fun of because I can’t read a book without a pen. I’m always writing in books.
JOHN:It’s really really microscopic hand writing too, like a crazy person.
SONIC: What are you writing in there?
XAN: You know, underlining shit.
SONIC: Like taking notes?
XAN: I like to call it, well this is the nerdiest thing of all time but I like to call it having a conversation with the book. It’s like “Yo, this dude in this story is a fucking idiot, he shouldn’t have fucked that girl.” Or something like that.
SONIC: You should take those notes and make it a song lyric or something. You (John) should give him the reigns.
JOHN: Go ahead!
XAN: Na-, that’s private. But it’s nerdy as fuck.
JOHN: Me, I don’t know, it’s easier for other people to tell me. What’s my nerdy quality Xan? I’m pretty weird right?
XAN:It’s weird when John breaks into song sometimes. He’s a music nerd. But it’s like he can’t stop and he doesn’t even know he’s doing it. We were recording a suitcase since we didn’t have bongos. He had his headphones on and he didn’t even know what he was doing but he was humming some song, and it wasn’t even the song but he was just humming it the whole time he was banging on the suitcase.
JOHN: I had headphones that were really loud so I couldn’t even hear myself. I didn’t know I was making any noise at all but it sounded like some crazy cave man shit.
XAN: It wasn’t nerdy at all, it was badass.
JOHN: It was like “Ah oo-aH, ah oo ah-ha.”
XAN: It was super primal, but nerdy? I don’t know.
JOHN: Our drummer is kind of nerdy.
XAN: Our drummer is into comics, anime, superheroes, all that shit.
JOHN:I’m down with some superhero movies but he’s down with all.
XAN: Yeah he’s got deep knowledge of that shit. I ask him to teach me but he can teach. He’s a wise man when it comes to that shit. And our bass player is a record nerd. He’s just got a beautiful taste in music and he’s an encyclopedia.
JOHN: If I say “What record is this weird Thin Lizzy song on?” and he just knows. I don’t know how he remembers all this but he just knows it. Like all of it.
SONIC: What is the dating scene like in New York City right now?
XAN: All the kids are on Tinder, I don’t fucking know.
JOHN:No they’re on the new shit, Raya.
XAN:That’s for like, hipsters.
JOHN: It’s like the elite hipster Tinder. Somebody showed me their Raya the other day and I recognized few people on it.
XAN: I’m fucking analog, I like to get a coffee with the girl.
JOHN:Eventually you meet somebody and I’ll get their number or I’ll get their number from a friend or something if I’m too much of a pussy to ask for it myself.
XAN: I just invite people back to my room.
JOHN: Netflix and chill, that usually works.
SONIC: Might as well ask, they’ll either say yes or no.
XAN: They never say no.
SONIC: What’s next for you guys?
JOHN: We just finished mixing our record. It’s going to be mastered soon. We’re finishing all the artwork and we’ll be pretty much all done which is good. We’re going to UK for tour and we have a month long tour with this band Hinds from Spain.
SONIC: Oh nice, I was going to ask about that (Xan is wearing a Hinds T-Shirt). We just featured one of their songs recently.
XAN: They’re our girls.
JOHN: We’ll put out a single soon, one right before the record comes out and probably another one after the record comes out.
XAN: Some industry schedule.
JOHN:Yeah, the industry schedge. Going on tour without the record being done would have been daunting but we’re pretty happy we don’t have to worry about it.