John Eatherly has been doing the music thing for a while, having dropped out of high school at 17 to pursue music. “I’ve played in a lot of different bands over the years,” he explained. But Public Access TV seems to be his most focused effort to date. The band has just dropped their first proper release in the United States, Public Access EP on Terrible Records, and Eatherly’s not just songwriting, he’s also spotlighted as the lead vocals and guitars. The fact that Public Access TV really sees Eatherly coming into his own probably has something to do with the fact that he’s supremely close with all the other band members. In fact, three of four members (all except for the drummer) lived together in an East Village apartment. New York’s always been somewhat tough, Eatherly admits, but when their apartment burned down in the East Village fire last month, he realized things could always be harder.
We figured Eatherly’s got to be going through an emotional ringer right now– what with a new video out for “Metropolis” (a track off Public Access) and having to deal with the aftermath of the East Village fire which lucky for the band went down while they were out on tour. B+B spoke with Eatherly over the phone to get a feel for where he and the band are at right now.
It was above Sam’s Deli right on 2nd avenue. We’d all been there a long time. And it’s really a tragic thing that happened, but it could have been much worse for us and we’re really lucky all we lost are possessions.
It was really like the club house for the band. Everyone was there pretty much all the time. We lived there, we’d do some recording there. It was just the central hub of everything for our band.
Yeah, it’s all guys who have known each other for a very long time. Me and Max, the bass player, we’ve been friends since we were 12 years old and it’s really just a good group of friends who wanna play music together and really enjoy being in a band together. It’s great. It’s actually the ideal band situation.
We’re all very honest with each other on everything as far as parts being played and everything, musical and non-musical. It makes it easier to be open with each other when you’re not meeting people for the first time and just starting this project with them. We’re all close, so there aren’t really hard feelings. We all just want what’s best for the band and for each other.
No, because if anything I feel like bands fall apart when you’re not open with each other. I think the more honesty, for this sort of thing, is the best situation to have. That’s how bands stay healthy.
I dunno, I guess that song has a lot of different emotions toward New York. Part of it is complaining about things but, you know, then at the end you still don’t want to live anywhere else. And that’s how I was feeling at the time. Yeah the whole song’s, I dunno if it’s clear in it, but it’s not really about a girl (the lines and the verse) it’s more about the city and how it can make you feel like you’re in a relationship with someone and all the emotions that go along with that.
I’ve been in situations where I didn’t know I was going to live and things seemed crazy, especially now. So that song, “Metropolis” was recorded long before the fire or anything and nothing is crazier than that’s been. But there have been times where it’s like, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I don’t have a job, I don’t have any place to live. But I’ve never considered leaving, really.
I think like, as corny as it sounds, living in New York— all those songs even if the lyrics don’t specifically speak about the city, it’s all influenced by it in some way just from writing them in my apartment. It’s all influenced by New York, mostly unintentionally I’d say. But that’s just how it is when you’re here and you’re trying to do something creative. But I think most people doing anything creative in this city, it all seeps in somehow from the environment.
We filmed it in Los Angeles, actually, funny enough. It all came together really last minute. We all wanted to do a performance video for a while and we didn’t want it to be too throw-backy as far as doing it on VHS cameras or something like that. We wanted it to look modern but still have a take on all the stuff we loved when we were growing up, watching the old BBC programs like Old Grey Whistle Test and Top of the Pops. We loved the performances on those TV show and were really in to the bands.
That’s interesting you say it’s a little bit throwback but still modern, because your music is a little bit like that. There’s this distinct disco kind of beat and a fun old school rock vibe, but it’s not nodding too heavily toward the past, you know?
Yeah, we really try to find a balance because we don’t listen to too much modern music at all like when we’re in the van or just doing anything, we never turn on modern radio. It’s like when I write songs I’m not trying to have a specific sound or homage to a certain era, that stuff just sort of seeps in no matter what. But I still want Public Access TV to be a band that’s for 2015. The video I guess goes along with that same sentiment we have when we’re making music.
Yeah it was cool. I was definitely a big Gang of Four fan growing up and I think all of us in the band really were, so it was definitely a cool experience. But to be honest we didn’t really spend that much time with them. It wasn’t like we were going out and getting beers with them or anything like that. They’re all really nice and it was really cool getting to see their set and be a part of it. But it was definitely different than other tours we’ve been a part of as far as just hanging out vibes.
I hope so. I have no idea to be honest. I’d like to think that, but I don’t wanna say, “We’re Gang of Four’s favorite band.” I have no idea what they thought of us at all. But yeah hopefully they liked it, that’d be cool. My childhood self would be really psyched on that.
Yeah, we’re touring with this band called Palma Violets and we’re just really excited to get back on the road. It’s the best job in the world getting to travel and play music and I feel really fortunate being able to do it.