THE ADVERTS played regularly at London’s legendary punk club, The Roxy, and took Top Of The Pops by storm in 1977 with their anthem Gary Gilmore’s Eyes – but frontman TV Smith prefers the solo life today.
Armed with just an acoustic guitar, he plays around 120 gigs all over the world each year and says he’s happier now, although he still keeps old classics like One Chord Wonders and Bored Teenagers in his set.
He says: “Top Of The Pops was exciting at the time because it was a childhood dream to be on it, but what’s exciting to me now is playing a gig in front of people who are thrilled by what I do. That’s the real aim of what I was looking for – not to be on some crummy TV programme. That was a brief fulfilment of a childhood fantasy. Long term, I like giving people what they appreciate.
“I get a lot of people coming up and saying ‘I’m full of energy and inspiration after that gig’. What more could I ask for than to have someone leaving the concert with a smile on their face?”
The Adverts formed in 1976 at the dawn of punk and now appear on compilation albums alongside the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, but they made just two albums – Crossing The Red Sea and Cast Of Thousands – before splitting up.
TV – or Tim – went on to form The Explorers and then TV Smith’s Cheap before returning from a period in the wilderness as a solo artist.
“I didn’t actually stop,” he says. “In the 1980s after The Explorers had died a death I didn’t have a manager or a publisher or a band. I didn’t have anyone on my side but I was still writing – that was key.”
The subject of a recent one-hour TV special on the BBC’s Punk Brittania theme, Tim is now a popular draw again, especially across Europe.
He says: “Now I’m doing so many gigs. Britain is one of the smallest countries for me – I do much better in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and so on.”
But although he’s happy with his current career, he does recall the punk days fondly.
He and bass player Gaye Advert (still his partner) moved to London from Dorset at just the right time.
“There was nothing happening in Dorset,” says Tim. “Living in a backwater as a teenager, it was just dead. We had aspirations to see bands and be in a band.”
The 100 Club punk festival in the summer of 1976 was when the pair realised there was more than one band that had the same attitude as them.
The line-up included the Sex Pistols, The Clash, Buzzcocks and The Damned.
By January 1977 The Adverts were ready to join in and played at The Roxy twice in a week.
“I phoned the manager, Andy Czezowki, and asked if we could have a gig and he said ‘What’s the name of the band?’ I said ‘The Adverts’ and he said ‘OK’. He didn’t even want to hear a tape or anything!” recalls Tim.
Was he aware of the significance of the punk explosion at the time?
“I’m not sure if I realise the significance of it now!” he says. “We just wanted to be in a band and do our thing and there seemed to be loads of other bands wanting to do the same thing.
“I didn’t think about smashing the music business but the music business wouldn’t accept us so we had to do something different.”
TV Smith will play the Vive Le Rock stage at GuilFest on Friday, July 13 and will be joined by fellow punk veterans Buzzcocks – and you can expect a bit of nostalgia.
“There’s always going to be a mix of new and old in my set, including a few Adverts songs,” he says. “Absolutely! That was part of me, they’re as much a part of me as the new ones.
“I always play Gary Gilmore’s Eyes, Bored Teenagers, One Chord Wonders and probably No Time To Be 21 as well.”
GuilFest will take place in Stoke Park, Guildford, from Friday, July 13 until Sunday, July 15. There are 200 other acts including Olly Murs, Tulisa, Jools Holland, Bryan Ferry, Chic, Gary Numan, Ash, Skindred, Young Guns, The Undertones and Andy C.
Full details on www.guilfest.co.uk