On Pop of the World Hosts Television’s Founder and Winston-Salem Native, Gives Advice to Aspiring Musicians
By: Matty Sheets
Television, along with Patti Smith and the Talking Heads, got their start in the mid-‘70s playing at the now famous East Village venue, CBGB. These musicians changed the face, the ears, the legs and butts of rock ’n’ roll forever.
When the show got confirmed at On Pop of the World Studios on Grove Street in Greensboro on June 7, Television’s guitarist Richard Lloyd and his band told owner Randy Seals, that they would like to have Winston-Salem native Peter Holsapple, of The dB’s, R.E.M. (and many more), open the show. The bill was to be two rock and roll heroes and two modern day anomalies. Of course, the spot that Lloyd would play in town is On Pop of the World; It’s different, special and my favorite place.
Seals started recording music years ago in Indianapolis and later moved to North Carolina where he began recording in his basement. After moving into the big red building in Greensboro everything changed. The building was formerly a grocery store, and then a biker gang’s clubhouse, or lounge. Performances at OPOTW get recorded live, and often are filmed by Seals’ partner, Donna Smith, founder of Crossover Productions. Bands primarily come there for private recording sessions, and OPOTW has produced over 100 albums. Matt Goshow is the engineer at the studio. In a fairly short time, Goshow has learned how to engineer a recording session, produce his own recording sessions, and mix albums. He just showed up, and kept showing up, and learned everything he could from Seals. Goshow ran sound that night, and the band was impressed.
I walked into the studio that night, early, and there was Holsapple on stage, messing with his guitar.
“Hi, I’m Peter,” he said, and reached out his hand to shake mine.
“I know! I’m Matty.”
We shook hands, and I was about to keep walking but then I remembered the question. “Do you mind if I ask you one thing?”
“No, I don’t mind at all,” he replied.
“Do you have any advice for a musician or artist?” I asked. It came right out, nice and easy. You see, I’m uninterested in autographs; I just want to ask that one question. Other musicians, I have interviewed answered it differently. Taj Mahal said, “Know your roots.” Arlo Guthrie said, “Good luck! NEXT!” Matt Sharp asked if I wrote. I said yes, and his advice was to keep writing.
“Learn to read and write music,” Holsapple told me. “I would have gotten so much farther with music if I learned when I was young.”
I was standing on the sidewalk out front when the front door opened. Lloyd walked out. Our eyes met and he reached his hand out to shake mine. He looked comfortable, and at ease in his red and blue unbuttoned flannel and black T-shirt.
“Hi, I’m Richard,”
“Hi, I know!” I could barely get the words out, I was so in awe and excited.
“Who are you?” He asked me as we shook hands.
“I’m Matty. Very nice to meet you,” I stammered.
“Your hair is a cooler color than mine is,” he said.
I guessed this would be my only chance. “Do you mind if I ask you one question?” I asked, realizing how nervous I was. He nodded. “Do you have any advice for a musician or artist?”
“Make your own scene,” Lloyd answered, and gestured to the studio
I knew he was going to like this place. How could he not? He walked around during Holsapple’s set, standing by the merchandise, talking to people. A friend leaned in while the band played and said, “I had no idea that was him! We talked for twenty minutes.”
People were on the sidewalk waiting to get in 30 minutes before the doors opened. There were many new faces, smiling faces that hadn’t been there before. Everyone really enjoyed the space, including Holsapple and Richard and the band. Lloyd played with Terry Clouse on bass, Jeff Brakebill on drums and Jason NeSmith on guitar and vocals. They strongly executed Lloyd’s songs, plus “Marquee Moon,” “Elevation,” “See No Evil,” and “Friction,” from Television.
Terry told me that OPOTW reminded him of the punk scene where he started playing music, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They all stayed long after the show, having beverages, smoking cigarettes, and sharing stories. Lloyd said that OPOTW was his “favorite place.” It was a great night for the studio, a great night for the musicians and a great night for Greensboro.