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Austin, Texas, United States

Austin, Texas, United States
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Sound Team alumnus Matt Oliver has zigged where his former band mate Bill Baird has zagged — the latter has emerged as one of Austin’s most prolific crafters of experimental pop, while Oliver’s post-Sound Team outfit TV Torso has opted for a more measured output. The “Status Quo Vadis” EP is the band’s first release since the one-two punch of last summer’s “Days of Being Wild” and “The Black Mask” seven-inch singles. But if the stratospheric quality of its six perfectly structured songs is any indication, Oliver’s unrushed approach to song craft is paying dividends.
The softly plinking piano of Sparrow House and Voxtrot’s Jared Van Fleet gets the proceedings under way on “Nobodies,” which quickly explodes into a pop-rock pleasure with a memorable riff from Oliver and the expert percussion of Jordan Johns. Epics “Far Enough Away” and “Slanderer’s Stew” build to lengthy, but attention-holding, instrumental jams, while the memorable “Two Glass Eyes” is an acoustic strummer with a rural charm. “Slouch Hat City,” meanwhile, almost plays out like TV Torso’s attempt at a Fastball number — a brisk, catchy song and ideal summer tune, it even packs a classic “Whoo!” followed by a guitar solo, truly a pop standby. And the record’s analog sensibilities — “Status Quo Vadis” was recorded exclusively to tape — lend it a soft, reverb-y fuzz that perfectly suits Oliver’s sensibilities; the entire affair has the feel of a sweet, half-remembered daydream.
“Status Quo Vadis” is available as a 12-inch vinyl and in digital download from TV Torso plays the Parish on Sept. 23 with Film School and Monahans, and plays the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 10. - Austin American-Statesman

More guitar-driven and stripped-down than the electro ebbs and flows of his star-making salvo, the approach former Sound Team vocalist Matt Oliver takes in TV Torso leaves plenty of room for his signature, earnest-without-tipping-over-into-cloying voice. The band's early 7-inches got at the steadily beating heart of vintage soul and British Invasion in a precise, skeletal manner unheard 'round these parts since Spoon turned in Girls Can Tell. The new six-song "mini LP"—pared down from 18 songs tracked in the band’s barn-cum-studio—Status Quo Vadis renews TV Torso's commitment to including only what’s most vital. - The Onion A.V. Club

Somewhere in my mind, I had long ago blogged about TV Torso. But after looking through my archives today it appears I must have been dreaming. Better late than never...

After changing band names once or twice, TV Torso was formed in 2008 by former Sound Team members Matt Oliver and Jordan Johns. Thus far the band has released two pretty damn good seven inches, both offering promising cuts of guitar-and-keys-driven indie rock. The sounds trend toward early Spoon and What Made Milwaukee Famous, but it is TV Torso's ability to infuse their music with subtle elements of folk, Americana, and classic rock that really gets your attention.

The band's next offering is a 6-song, vinyl-only LP titled Status Quo Vadis. The songs were produced and recorded by Matt Oliver and Stuart Sikes (White Stripes, Cat Power, Loretta Lynn) and mixed at Jim Eno’s Public Hi-Fi studios. While waiting to hear that, I'd recommend you take both of the 7'' singles for a spin. Check out their Daytrotter session too. And their song on this Flux-Rad mixtape.

TV Torso will be touring all over the US throughout August. They will also be performing at the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Sunday, October 10.
TV Torso - "I Can See Your Face"
TV Torso - "The Black Mask"
*drawing of TV Torso live in concert by Austin Kleon - Covert Curiosity

The dissolution of Sound Team in 2007 - one of the more promising Austin acts in recent memory - had a silver lining. The two principal forces behind the band (Bill Baird and Matt Oliver) may have parted company, but that means fans get double the amount of music from these immensely talented songwriters. Baird releases albums at a steady clip under the moniker Sunset, while Oliver heads up TV Torso with the help of former Sound Team drummer Jordan Johns and new recruit Jimmy Rhea on bass.

Johns and Oliver also run Big Orange, an all-analog recording studio here in Austin that serves as their laboratory. TV Torso’s new EP, Status Quo Vadis, was recorded there, and it shows - the knotty pop songs are challenging but warm, shot through with rhythmic intensity, Oliver’s ragged melodies, and the kind of intimacy that only reel-to-reel tape can provide. TV Torso bring their characteristic sound to Emo’s inside stage tonight with locals International Waters opening, and you can download Status Quo Vadis via their Bandcamp page.

TV Torso: [website] - Austinist

Internet radio station WOXY has undoubtedly made its presence felt ever since relocating from Ohio last year. Besides delivering a constant stream of engaging shows via its home in South Austin, WOXY curates regular events in town such as its residency series at Stubb’s and record listening parties at Scoot Inn. This Thursday, WOXY is teaming up with a whole host of entities, including yours truly, to bring Future Sounds’ The Rumble to Beerland.

The Rumble began in 2007 and currently takes place in a number of cities across the U.S., including San Francisco, Brooklyn, Seattle, Portland, L.A., and Las Vegas. Although a good chunk of any given Rumble is devoted to local musicians, DJs, businesses, and bloggers, all joining together to represent their city, touring artists are occasionally a part of the mix as well. These visiting bands are encouraged to develop connections and contacts in the city’s media outlets during each stop.

On Thursday though, the entertainment on offer at Beerland is all local -- enjoy agreeable blues-pop from The Happen-Ins, brooding post-punk from Dirty Dancing, and stirring indie-rock from TV Torso. The WOXY DJs will also be on hand, spinning choice tunes, no doubt. Matt Oliver from TV Torso was kind enough to answer some questions for us over email earlier this week, complete with a plethora of guiding Gmail emoticons, which, according to him, “pretty much say anything way better than I ever could.”

What became of Minotaur? Is TV Torso essentially the same band with a different name, or were there any line-up changes? When exactly did TV Torso form?

Same band. TV Torso was probably the first name we had. Then we played some shows under a bunch of different names initially, the Minotaur (or Minotaurs?--can't remember) was just one of them. It changed every five minutes. Jared Van Fleet was playing piano with us but then he moved away. After a while it was getting ridiculous and all the least offensive names were taken so we just stayed with TV Torso, we like that one.

Jordan (Johns) and I have been in a band together for a long time, for years; Austin (Leonard Jones) and Jordan have played music together since junior high so it's kind of hard to pinpoint. This one seems to have formed when we all started recording together in 2008.


TV Torso released two 7-inches last year, both around the same time -- any specific reasons for that format, instead of maybe one EP with four songs? Is there a full-length in the works?

Wish we'd thought of that EP idea, that's a good one man! Do you manage bands? We were going to release the 7-inches separately but the mastering guy took months longer then he was supposed to and we just had to get them out on the same day. He still has our masters, Paul Gold if you are reading this send back our reel of tape please. I have emailed and called and called and called, are you still alive?

We have many, many songs we've recorded, they are sitting on a shelf in tape boxes while we are trying to figure out the logistics of getting the right sequence mixed, mastered and then how to get them out into the world.

Emoticon is definitely a:

Image from TV Torso’s website
Where do you guys record in town? Any favorite producers you like to work with?
We have a studio, Big Orange. It's is essentially a 100-year-old barn with a tape machine inside. I record bands there too, the live room definitely has "a sound" to it. I also do a lot of live-to-2-track stuff there for a music website.

I feel very lucky to have gotten to watch and work closely with some great old-school engineers and producers. When we cut our songs it works better for us to have someone else engineering so I don't have to obsess as much over technical stuff. We've been working with Stu Sikes a lot, he was at Easley-McCain in Memphis but that burned down so he lives in Dallas now and has been coming down to Austin for sessions.

Emoticon for this one: tie. and

TV Torso offers its 7" for download on the site -- a lot of bands do not like to give away their music for free. What are the pros and cons of free downloads of your music?

I think the pros are fairly obvious: , , and

Cons outweigh the pros though, because: , , , and

TV Torso doesn't have a MySpace page, which is very rare these days - any reasons for that? How would you define success for the band? Besides the official showcase at SXSW, are you planning on playing any other shows? Any goals for 2010?

We prefer YouFace. When our Status changes from "Chill" to "Weirdsies," be sure to "finger-tag" us.

My definition of success is definitely .

We're playing Friday night of SXSW at Emo's Annex, we're looking forward to it! We are also supposed to play a bunch of parties this year but we have no idea where or when. I would like to try to play about 10 times if we can but the studio is also fully booked that week so it will be hilarious to watch us try to juggle both somehow.

Our goals for 2010 are: a) to get our shit together and b) .

WOXY is presenting this show on Thursday at Beerland -- are you familiar with them? What is right and wrong with mainstream radio -- do you listen to stations in town like 101X, 93.7 KLBJ, etc., or do you prefer online radio stations like WOXY?

WOXY, they moved into that "adults'-only" movie theater on South Congress I believe.

Conventional radio should return to a Wolfman Jack format, which is pretty much what the online ones are trying to do.

I don't have XM but I really like Bob Dylan's show he used to do on XM, Theme Time Radio Hour. Sometimes I'll turn on 101X in the car, they have this hilarious announcer guy that says "X" in this crazy nasal voice in the epilepsy-inducing sound clips they do between commercials that fills me with equal parts revulsion and relish. Everyone knows the guy I am talking about, he says, "101.....(ripping noises).....X", then BOOM, Stone Temple Pilots. I listen to Paul Ray's Twine Time on KUT and KVRX and the online ones, too.

In conclusion:

Thank you speaking with Austinist.

Thank you Adi/Austinist, very much. - Austinist

It would be unfair to say that Matt Oliver, the former lead singer of Austin band Sound Team and the leader of new three-piece TV Torso, dwells on the life that he used to lead, not that many years ago. Some of it was good and a lot of it was not good. But a lot of it seemed exciting at the time. Much of it that was hogwash - having to live up to certain expectations of men and women in expensive suits and ties, dealing with a myriad different personalities and individuals in a band and in an industry that is so unkind and cutthroat that it burns, and suffering through pressures with booze and narcotics as buddies. It's how years get lost in the haze and all of the shuffles. It's how people are warped and beaten down, turned into fragments of what they'd previously thought they'd become. It's kind of no fun, sort of unenlightening and just the diabolical ways of temptation and faith in others, faith that something should be working when there's really not a single guarantee out there for anyone. On "Days of Being Wild," one of the finest post-Sound Team songs Oliver's written, he latches onto an idea and sensibility that permeates through a number of his compositions, certainly drifting into his mind frequently. It's the thought of what once was, and perhaps a thought about being cloudy toward what those days actually were and what they really stood for. It's an interesting exercise that he and the band - made up of Sound Team's drummer Jordan Johns and bassist Austin Leonard Jones - embark on, figuratively exploring the memories of the teeth and the nails that were pulled and sharpened in the days of their yore. They wind up with a pile of instances that are gorgeous by sight and semi-gorgeous by touch, all gorgeous by ear and yet they are spiked and somewhat jagged. They are not full of wistfulness and yet they are full of something more than wistfulness, combining such loaded sentiments that could be produced by a divorce and ones that are associated with a youthfulness that is always recalled more for its better times than its worst ones. He sings, "And let us not forget all the days that we were wild," just seconds after mentioning "an ocean of indifference" and so we're thrown, just as he was thrown, into that godforsaken quagmire of baloney and false pretense. Oliver lives in a different life these days, with a wife and a family and those days of being wild are still rambling through his thoughts, but they do so in a different manner -- though they still tag along with a groove-tailored, droning and addictive wall of wailing sound that will knock your hat off and toss your hair back, or spiral it into the kinds of curls that Oliver himself has. It's powerful and moving and it is defiant of tastes and moods, just blast after blast of three men looking back at the confusions and the mistakes and trying not to be jealous of those times - often finding that not to be difficult at all. It seems that the need for having something wild in the fires is hard to detain. It's not simple to forget all of the miscues and all the days that were memorable for many of the wrong reasons. As people grow up, sadness/regret builds to burst and when it does, that's when the eruptions are more like hot springs and they can be heard as therapy and enjoyed as the unknown bliss that was probably hoped for all along. It's there where a different place will be found, one rid of venom and rotten milk, and one where flowers and decency reign and tired drama flounders. - Daytrotter

Native Austin band TV Torso has been working on its upcoming debut practically nonstop, which comes naturally to the three bandmates since their recording studio is a 100-year-old barn in somebody's back yard. Spinner caught up with lead guitarist Matt Oliver on his cell phone as he played chauffer for his daughter.

So you own your own studio?

Yes, we have a studio called Big Orange. Officially it's a 100-year-old cinder block building that looks like a barn with a tape machine and we put some recording gear in there. It has totally financed our first record so that's pretty awesome. I've been really lucky to work with experienced people who knew what they were doing and I just watched them and learned.

How does having the studio affect the music TV Torso play?

You always want to balance the live thing with the studio thing. Being in our own studio is definitely a big part of what we do. The songs are written at home and then we'll go tinker in the studio. But we're definitely not an electronic music production team.

How did the band come together?

We were in a band called Minotaurs and when that broke up the drummer Jordan Johns and I knew we still wanted to record together. So we scrapped everything and started over. We wrote some songs and it worked out.

The band has performed under a lot of different monikers. Is the current name here to stay?

TV Torso is a name we came up with while we were in the old band and I liked it, it's got a rough edge to it. We went through roughly 100 names and all the least offensive ones were taken so we decided to stick with TV Torso. We've played under so many different names, I don't even know how many, I've lost track. I don't even know if this name will stick [laughs]. Ask me in a year.

Describe your sound in your own words.

I have a guitar. That's it.

What are your influences and what have you been listening to lately?

Definitely all the classics from A. P. Carter to Harry Houdini. One of our influences is all the bands we used to be in. Lately I've been mixing a ton so I've actually just been sitting there listening to our band. Other than that there is a great crop of bands in Austin: The Strange Boys, the Corto Maltese, and Woven Bones are all great, and of course all the old Austin dudes.

Being from Austin, do you have an advantage over bands from out of town?

I don't. It's such a mess of people coming through, it's kind of like Mardi Gras of Austin. I don't think we're going to have an advantage because downtown is almost impossible to recognize with all those people. The thing about South by Southwest is it's just fun, it's just a big fun thing to do. I think locals like to complain about it because it is so much fun. But it's also fun to complain about.

What are some of your goals for SXSW this year?

As far as goals, I really want us to get our s--- together, that's a good start. Also to play our shows without having anything break and try not to get drunk during the daytime. I don't even know how many shows we play that week. We're just trying to steer people toward our official showcase on Friday at the Emo's annex.

How much of the new EP do you expect to play?

Everybody who is seeing us for the first time, it will be new to them obviously. One thing that is really cool is that Jared Van Fleet, who appeared on the record with us, is going to fly in for the showcase. So that is going to be a special, one of a kind thing we're doing for SXSW. He was in the band with us before and it's always great to get to perform with him.

You have a unique online presence as far as not having a MySpace page and giving away your singles for free.

The way we are releasing our music may seem targeted, or like we have a plan but we really have no idea what we're doing. I try not to waste time online doing stuff for the band just because it gets so time consuming, especially Myspace, it's just too much. I don't know, I'm trying to embrace real life.

So we won't be seeing TV Torso on Twitter anytime soon?

I don't know. What's Twitter? [laughs] I'm kidding. Not unless it is highly, highly useful. We just don't really need it right now. We're worried about making our record and not trying to think about it too much.

The response so far has been really positive, we're really happy because we're trying to do this without forcing it down people's throats, which I think a lot of people do, and people are just coming to the music in an organic way which makes me really happy.

Mark R. Coll is a contributor from Learn how you can contribute here. - Spinner

The demise of Sound Team (following the release of Movie Monster) was, for the most part, considered to be a sad turn of events for the talented crew in the band. However, most of them reorganized fairly promptly and successfully -- Bill Baird’s various projects (sometimes boasting former Sound Team band mates) are already a staple of the Austin music scene. TV Torso contains Sound Team alums Matthew Oliver and Jordan Johns, along with A. Leonard Jones, and the trio has been performing intermittently around town over the last few months (initially as The Minotaurs). Now, with two 7" vinyls available for purchase on their website and a recently completed East Coast jaunt, not to mention a Le Diamant Brut feature, TV Torso is primed for take off. - Austinist

TV Torso may not be a household name at this point, but I’m sure some of you are familiar with the Austin band Sound Team that disbanded forever in 2007. We mention them because two founding members of TV Torso, Matt Oiver (guitar/vocals) and Jordan Johns (drums) were both members of that now defunct Austin band. After adding bassist Austin Jones, the band has started fresh and are planning to take the Austin world by storm. TV Torso call their sound minimal rock music and try to keep their sound as simplistic as possible. Whatever you want to call it, we dig it. The band also recently finished recording two 7? singles which will hit stores August 18th and will come with the vinyl, free downloads, a bonus download and a blank CD-R. - Austin Town Hall

• Keep an eye out for TV Torso, the new project from Sound Team's Matt Oliver and Jordan Johns. The indie rock outfit has two 7-inches ready to be pressed and a full-length in the works. "It's a lot more straightforward and stripped-down than other stuff I've done, with a lot of tape echo," enthuses Oliver from his revamped Big Orange studio on the Eastside. - Austin Chronicle

A long, long time ago (2006) in a land far, far away (Austin), Sound Team released its major-label debut, Movie Monster, after years of DIY releases & touring and mounting “next-big-thing” buzz. It was a tough album to pin down, with influences on the sleeve and all over the map; the only constants were layered, pulsing electronics and big hooks. It’s soulful, impassioned and still holds up today, I think. But Movie Monster got mixed reviews (this may hold the record for the most grotesquely snarky), it didn’t sell well, and the next year Sound Team called it quits.

Sunday night (8/9) at the Treehouse you can catch the new project from 1/2 of the former band’s songwriting duo, Matt Oliver. (It also includes ex-Sound Team drummer Jordan Johns.) TV Torso, named after a song off Movie Monster, has a more organic vibe, but with Oliver’s vocal scratch intact and leading the charge, fully freed of unrealistic, fairy-tale expectations -

When Sound Team—one of Austin's more recent ill-fated major label breakthrough contenders—split up in 2007, the two principal songwriters Bill Baird and Matt Oliver went their separate ways and, as principal songwriters often do, formed new vehicles for their creative impulses. Baird had already been working as Sunset as early as 2006, and he continues to consistently release music and perform around town with that group. Until recently though, Oliver had been flying under the radar a bit. After playing a few shows earlier this year with his new trio, initially named The Minotaur, he renamed the band TV Torso (which, perhaps not incidentally, is the title of a Sound Team song), and… continued to fly underneath the radar. Until late last month that is: with a move copped straight from the Use Your Illusion playbook, Oliver & co. dropped two 7” singles on the same day. It was worth the wait for their recorded debut; both singles, whose a-sides are "The Black Mask" and "Days of Being Wild," are excellent displays of moody, intelligent, fuzzed-out pop, and are more direct than much of Oliver’s previous work with Sound Team.

The Black Mask b/w The Eye In the Pyramid is the stronger single, but only by a hair, and the a-side is the best of the four songs spread across the two records. A beautifully crafted tune, it climbs and descends repeatedly without ever really reaching a peak, choosing instead to restlessly ride along a current of nervous energy, increasing in intensity until finally and somewhat abruptly collapsing. "The Days of Being Wild" begins with a strummed acoustic guitar, and eases into an upbeat but melancholy pop exercise that examines a fractured friendship, with Oliver wondering if reconciliation is on the cards. Overall, the four songs presented here are consistent enough to have been released together as a 12” EP, so why the double-but-separate 7” treatment? It’s probably a moot question. The format may be a novelty, but the music is not---across the two singles, the chord progressions and melodies are sophisticated and refined, and the band avoids slick production values in favor of a fuzzy, rough-hewn sound that suits their songs perfectly. TV Torso is currently mixing their debut LP, and based on the strength of these singles, we’ll anxiously anticipate its release.
- Austinist


Still working on that hot first release.




TV Torso is a musical band of friendly Texans with an affinity for skewed pop, repetition, skeletal guitar music, minimalism, tuning drum sets, and recording guitar direct. The group is comprised of Matt Oliver, Jordan Johns, Jimmy Rhea, and Ben Maddox.