Changing channels

Chico ex-pat’s new band, TV Heads, releases debut EP

TV Heads: (from left) Angelica Tavella, Sean Galloway and Vince Gutierrez. Not pictured, new drummer Jessica Lankford.

TV Heads: (from left) Angelica Tavella, Sean Galloway and Vince Gutierrez. Not pictured, new drummer Jessica Lankford.

Photo by Lauren Cassandra Wade

TV Heads perform Friday, July 8, 9 p.m., at The Maltese, with Surrogate and Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy.
Cost: $7.
Maltese Bar & Tap Room
1600 Park Ave.

TV Heads’ Sean Galloway and Angelica Tavella are stuck in commuter Hades, slowly snailing along some freeway or another en route from Los Angeles to Long Beach for a gig.

“LA is just so crazy and spread out,” says Galloway. “So it’s not like, ‘Hey, let’s go down the street and practice.’ It’s like, ‘Hey, let’s drive for two hours.’”

Despite the difficulty, guitarist/vocalist Galloway (a Butte County native who moved to So Cal a year ago to pursue making music), keyboardist/vocalist Tavella, bassist Vince Gutierrez and new drummer Jessica Lankford have embraced their relocation to LA after having been somewhat spread around for the last few years. Sufficiently rooted, the new band’s debut EP, Total Fucker, is being released via Tavella’s OIM Records, to be followed by a West Coast tour this summer, stretching to Seattle and back.

TV Heads was formed just last summer following an epiphany of common sense by the previously solo-identified Galloway (as Ave Grave) and Tavella (as Nyx).

“We did a couple West Coast tours together and ended up playing a lot during each other’s sets,” explained Galloway. “We moved down here and were still kind of doing separate things but were both in each other’s bands, and Vince was also in both of our bands, and it was just like, ‘What are we doing?’”

On “Chin Up,” the first single from Total Fucker (originally a term of endearment between the coupled Galloway and Tavella, then a brief band name before settling on the EP title), Galloway’s typically emotive vocals are complemented by Tavella’s saccharine harmonies, while a synth-splattered mutiny unfolds just below a rumble of moody guitar. The symbiosis of Tavella’s more synth-based foundations and Galloway’s allegiances to guitar-rock and pop hints at a potent alchemy.

“I wanted to definitely mess around with soft synths and hard synths, and have been doing that over the last few years,” Galloway said. “I wanted to have that be an element rather than have it be just straight guitar-rock all the time.”

Steeped in the eye-opening cultural seismology that is living in downtown Los Angeles, Galloway and Tavella’s songwriting crosses both sonic and socioeconomic paths on songs like “Flower District”—an observational track documenting their recent residency on the cusp of Skid Row. As in the real Skid Row neighborhood of LA, which is home to thousands of homeless citizens.

“We moved a month or two ago from that part of LA to Highland Park, and it’s like a different world,” Galloway said. “It’s just weird to see intense wealth and human misery all around. I’m still trying to figure out how to be a person in that mess. I was ready to move to Montana.”

That disparity is mirrored on tunes like the somber “Total Fucker,” which finds Galloway’s dark resilience manifesting in an ascending, incendiary chorus reminiscent—if slightly—to his previous output with the much-loved Chico-based crew The Shimmies.

Total Fucker was produced by Jeff Saltzman, who is also part-owner of OIM with Tavella, and who previously worked with the likes of The Killers and Blondie. Saltzman’s position as a sounding board for the band during recording was a boon to how well the EP turned out.

“There were a number of times when we’d play a show in LA and drive all night up to Oakland, get there in the morning and go right into the studio and start recording,” Galloway said. “I’d have to ask, ‘Jeff, did you get that? I don’t even know what I’m doing.’”