TV's Daniel Talks VIDEO's New Record And How Third Man Records Came To Release It.
If nothing else, the Third Man team is for sure pretty stoked about the news: In a press release making the deal known, the label called VIDEO the “true best in the business” and “the best thing going today.”
And, y'know, biased as it may be, the label isn't really wrong in that assessment. Anyone who has seen the band perform its fiery, massively compelling live shows in recent years — during which the band's frontman, Daniel Fried/TV's Daniel, stalks stages like a satanist possessed as his band (Greg Rutherford, Payton Green, Harpal Assi) lets loose a sonic assault behind him — can attest to the fact that VIDEO is an act that's difficult to not watch.
VIDEO's about as strong as live act as you'll ever see — just as you'd expect it to be, really, considering the band's pedigree. If not the outright best in the business, the four guys behind VIDEO are certainly among the best in North Texas, having cut their teeth in such revered Denton outfits as Bad Sports, Wiccans, Radioactivity, Mind Spiders and various other nigh-infallible projects.
And, with that live show, VIDEO exists too as perhaps the most brash of that bunch. In fact, it was very much the band's live prowess that caught the attention of Third Man in the first place, which we learned during a recent phone chat with Fried, who recently moved to Austin.
Below, check out our interview with always punk as fuck Fried in full, during which he tells us more about how the deal came to be, what people can expect of the new album and why the signing came at the perfect time in his life.
You've always been in an abundance of bands, but VIDEO seems to be different in that it's the project you're most at the helm of. Is that fair to say?
Yeah, I think so. It's sort of my brainchild in a way — at least more so than my other bands have been. I wrote songs in those bands, but VIDEO has kind of morphed into this.
So, before this deal, I know you played a Third Man Records showcase at South by Southwest this past year. How'd that come about?
According to one of the guys at the label, they were just looking for some Texas bands to play at their showcase and they were all fans of us. So they contacted us thinking it would be a longshot and we said yes.
Then what happened?
Once we played the showcase, they came up and were asking us, “Hey, what are you guys doing?” We told them that we'd just finished a record and that the one label we were going to do it with kinda dropped it, and they asked, “Why don't you send it to us?” And, obviously, we did.
What do you remember about that show? Was it, like, this particularly kickass showcase?
It was outside on Friday and it was raining the entire time we were playing! The rest of the band was stuck under this tent and I was just running around this park lot, with all this rain pouring down on me. There were all these passersby that were walking by and these moms in yoga pants or whatever, and I would just scream at them. And they would love it! They were just eating it all up!
Did you have a prior relationship with anyone at Third Man before that?
I've known the guy who talked to us at the set, Ben Swank, for a couple of years through a friend of mine in Nashville. But I'd only really known him to talk to him in conversation when I was in town. Outside of that, not really anything else.
So how soon did you actually start seriously start talking about them releasing the album?
Well, I sent them the record, and they listened to it and made the decision that they were interested. From what I'm told, they're trying to do something of a resurgence with the label — like, they're trying to move it in different directions and with different types of bands. Timmy's Organism is another new band of theirs that they just announced the other week. Wolf Eyes was a week before that. These are the bands that represent the new path they're going to take with the label in a way. Timmy's Organism is actually a band we've played some shows with, like this weirdo punk stuff with lots of psych influence. He's a genuinely really weird dude who makes great music. And Wolf Eyes is almost like a noise band, but there's some real songs weaved in between all that. We're probably the most straightforward of any of the bands.
Can I ask when the dotted lines got signed and things like that?
It's sort of a funny story. When I was 25, I told myself that, if I wasn't making a living or doing something decent with my music by the time I hit 30… I gave myself five years. Like Bowie said. Then I'd maybe take a step back and stop being such a loser taking all these lame jobs all the time so I could fit in touring or whatever. But on my 30th birthday a few weeks ago, I signed the contract with Third Man.
That's a great story!
So, this is all pretty new still, then? I mean, you've been in bands that have put out records on labels before. But not, like, Jack White's label. What does this all mean moving forward for VIDEO?
World domination, I think? Y'know, I'm not quite sure. I know we're going to be touring. We're going to have more distribution behind this one than on any other record I've ever had. Definitely a lot more promotion, too. They definitely seem pretty gung-ho about promoting this record. Plus, there are just a lot of doors that Jack White's name can open. He's a very powerful man in the music industry and we're going to be riding his coattails as far as we can.
Have you had any interaction with Jack White specifically?
I met him briefly for about a minute and that was it. He's been around, though. He's a huge dude. I don't know if people know that about him. He's way taller than I am. He's probably like 6'4″ or something. I was very surprised.
Is he an intimidating presence?
I mean, not to me. But I'm not easily intimidated.
Is the release date and everything set in stone at this point?
October 30 is going to be the release date. We're supposed to be doing a show in Nashville as part of the release, because all three new records are all coming out on the same day. So there will be a big show in Nashville at the Third Man store — they have a venue there, too. That should be a big show. After that, we should be going on tour in November and do a few more tours after that to promote the hell out of this thing.
What can you tell me about this record?
It's sort of a concept album, in a way? I don't know. It's basically about how I've been, for the past ten years, touring and busting my ass and not knowing if anyone cared about any of my bands. And out of that frustration came this record. Like, there's this guy who comes up with this idea that he wants to be world famous and, as it goes on, he just gives up and dies. [Laughs.]
OK, so it sounds pretty tragic.
Life is tragic.
What are you calling it?
The Entertainers. Basically, I wrote this record and the other label dropped it and I was just like, “OK, well, I just give up.” And then, within two months, we've got this bigger label that's supportive and backing it? In some ways, I guess it's turning out to be a surprisingly positive story.
Are you able to have much perspective on what this all means and all that stuff?
Like, with Third Man? Yeah. I mean, I also just turned 30, so I've kind of hit that mid-life crisis thing as far as being in a band. Like, I've got to think about, “Am I going to be doing this for the rest of my life?” A good part of this record is about that.
Sonically, how would you compare it to earlier VIDEO stuff?
Well, the record starts out with a minute-and-a-half piano intro — y'know, just to stick it to the punks. As it goes on, there's a lot of other different elements. It's not just straightforward guitar stuff. There's acoustic guitar, there's piano, there's xylophone. It's a legitimate album, not just a bunch of songs smashed together.
There's always been a compelling brashness to VIDEO — and you said earlier that it was that attitude at your SXSW show that helped you catch Third Man's attention. That's still got to be a part of the equation, I imagine.
Oh yeah. Of course.
So the piano isn't some sort of sign that you've gone soft on us.
Oh, we're soft. But we're still hard underneath.
What does all this mean for your involvement in your many other bands?
I think it gives me more freedom to explore the other bands, actually. Like, I won't have to work every day.
So you're a full-time musician now.
Yeah, but not because of this record deal or anything. It's more touring and doing stuff with Radioactivity and my other bands. Basically, I have to be in seven bands in order to survive. It's the revenue streams, combined.
Well, they're good bands, so you've got that going for you.
Of course. They're the best.