With a bit of material from his past — including one track that dates back to 1972 — Richard Lloyd’s new album The Countdown is a case of good things coming to those songs that wait. And the set’s title track, premiering exclusively below, is among them.
“I had the rhythm, the initial riff, for a long time and didn’t know what to do with it,” Lloyd, co-founder of the iconic New York band Television and now a resident of Chattanooga, Tenn., tells Billboard. “When I was going to do this record I began to work with it. I got the idea it would be this conflagration of space travel and we did the basic (tracks) and then I had keyboards come in and do some pads and then I did the vocals off the cuff, just ad-libbed.” Once all that was established, Lloyd went after a guitar part that nods to the boundary-pushing experiments of his past.
“The lead guitar is nothing but feedback, which I’ve always wanted to do, and just put all this warpy stuff on top of a fairly simple progression,” Lloyd explains.
During “Countdown” Lloyd also makes the provocative declaration that he’s “had enough of plane Earth now,” but he says it’s not necessarily intended to be a political comment. “No, I didn’t mean it that way,” Lloyd says. “I’m saying I think it would be more exciting to be on Voyager 1 at the moment, in interstellar space. I think that’s the most important event in 2,000 years of human history. The fact that we’ve sent something out of the solar system is incredible to me. I’d like to be on a mission like that.”
The Countdown is Lloyd’s follow-up to 2016’s Rosedale and was recorded in Nashville with a quartet, including keyboardist Joe Bidewell from Lloyd’s ’80s band, getting 11 tracks down in just two days. “It happened very quickly — the basics in a couple days, the overdubs in a couple more days,” says Lloyd, who for the first time did not engineer the recording himself. “I did the vocals for the entire record in basically one morning. I look at some of the songs now and I might have added different parts or different sounds if they’d been allowed to marinate more. But in a way it was very cool to do it quickly like that.”
Lloyd will celebrate The Countdown’s Nov. 2 release with a performance that night in Nashville and is planning to line up tour dates as well. On the same day, his 2017 memoir Everything Is Combustible will be coming out in paperback with a different cover and some added material. “It’s gotten a lot of great reaction,” Lloyd says of the tome. “The people who are in the book who are alive are pleased with it. I don’t think I was too rough on anybody. I’m not a big gossip guy. I just tried to be truthful and stay away from any really, nasty bitter things. I don’t have much bitterness in me, anyway. Maybe some remorse; I always could’ve done things differently, but I didn’t. And I don’t worry about that. I believe in the power of now — and now is good.”