American Television are doing a pretty great thing: They are going to release a song (on flexi-disc) on Saturday called “Jane” and every dollar made from that song will go to the Harrison House, which is a local drug and alcohol treatment center. To mark the release of the single, the band is doing an in store performance at Mobius Records in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday. We quickly caught up with the band to talk about the song and why this charity in particular is important to them.
First of all – and I apologize if this sounds stupid – but what’s a flexi-disc?
Bryan Flowers (drums): A flexi disc is a record made from thinner vinyl, usually made to be included in magazines. It’s less expensive than pressing a traditional 7″ record. I remember as a kid getting a flexi with the Big Mac song from McDonald’s in the newspaper. Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese … .
How did you guys come about the idea to put this out and do it in conjunction with a benefit for The Harrison House? Has this been something you’ve wanted to do for a long time now?
Matt Marinec (guitar): It was quite serendipitous. The stars aligned, man. For one, we’ve always done all we can to make our music as socially conscious as it can be, so the environment was ripe for this kind of thing. As it happened, we had an opportunity to pursue something charitable and release music at the same time. Further, I was asked to speak at the annual reunion for the Harrison House right as we were talking about what to do. We’ve always had a strong relationship with Mobiüs, since we filmed part of our “Optimist” video there. Mobius provides an alcohol and drug-free space just a little ways down the street from Harrison House, so it all just clicked, man. We knew we could put all these things together and try and do something really special. It goes to show, as has been the case in my sobriety, if one stays present and just does the next right things, these kinds of happenings practically create themselves. If you’re surrounded by the right people and bandmates, one can really seize the moment, so that’s what we did.
I had no idea Matt had gone through what he’s been through. Did this band exist six years ago when he was going through his struggles? If so, how did everyone persevere and continue along as a band?
Matt: Yeah, thanks, Colin. It’s wild, man. It’s like being re-born. For real, inexplicable. Imagine: A new lease on life. Pulled from the ashes. The band actually formed shortly after I got sober, and that in itself is the story. I played music my whole adult life in complete isolation, where I could drink and drug how I wanted to drink and drug. The fact of the matter is that I was engulfed by shame and guilt, terrified of the outside world, utterly incapable of prioritizing a passion or an art (or health or job or education or a relationship or anything) above chemical dependence. So upon sobriety, after leaving 30-day inpatient at Harrison House and entering six month outpatient at Virginia Hospital Center, music came back to my life with a vengeance! I was able to play it, to share it, to enjoy it, to love it again. Imagine! I would listen to a song I’ve been playing for 20 years man, and I swear to God I heard notes I’d never heard before. That’s how sobriety is for me. A gift from the gods, and music is the ultimate form. So right about the time this re-birth was happening, Steve moved from Brooklyn to the DMV and was in a bit of a rut, looking to start a new project. We linked up and the rest is history. I’m really glad you asked that question. AMTV is in some ways a product of my sobriety and generally this love and zest for life – a message to always pursue your passions and never give up.
Can you tell us a little about the song itself? What inspired it and what’s it about?
Steve Rovery (Vocals/Guitar): Each of us have lost friends to substance abuse in our lifetime. I’ve lost friends to heroin, and I’ve seen others turn around when I’ve thought it may be the last time I’d see them. Addiction is a roller coaster for the person who battles it, but also for the people around them. The lyrics to “Jane” cover both sides.
The first part of the song, “Oh baby, come back to me. Because you’re slipping in too deep,” really focuses on that moment when you see that a friend or loved one has a different relationship with something that you might consider recreational. And then lyrically it shifts focus to the individual. So often, dependency on a drug pairs with depression or other mental health issues. When I say, “Waiting around for someone to care,” I’m thinking of my teenage years when so many of my friends felt misunderstood and started isolating themselves or began recklessly drinking or snorting what was around. They wanted someone to care about them, and it’s hard to think that people do care when you’re so down on yourself. Finally, at the end of the song where we go ape-s@)* – it’s symbolic of fighting the strongholds of addiction. “Cut the cord. Giving Up. Nevermore.” That’s an ode to that moment of self-realization and the desire to get better. They say you have to want to get better in order to even have a chance at it. That line is really saying, “I don’t want this as part of my life any more and I won’t give up till it’s gone.”
Matt: Indeed. It’s tragic. While the theme of the song has a universal relate-ability regarding this idea of dependency and clinging desperately to a sinking ship, it happens to hit especially close to home to anyone that is or has experienced substance abuse issues. At least that’s how I see it. But I guess, yeah, the relation can take a number of forms, and there again is the beauty of music – it can mean so many things and I think we’re all quite pleased with the way this came out.
And finally, what’s next for you guys? Is there an EP or LP in the works for sometime in 2018?
Bryan: We’re going to regroup after the holidays. We have a batch of unrecorded songs, but no real plans yet.
Matt: Just know that the future is bright for AMTV and stay tuned kids.